Crafting a resume that stands out from the masses

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein

Dear Niche Doctor,

I’ve been out of college for two years and am ready to move on from the entry-level marketing job I got right after graduation. The problem is, I’ve been sending my resume out to anyone and everyone with no bites at all, and I’m hoping you can give me some direction that will get some callbacks and interest so that I can get to an interview where I shine.


Based on my experience with scores of clients seeking to advance their careers, I am confident that by considering the following observations and suggestions, you can telescope your own success path.

First off, a big red-flag immediately jumps out with the statement that you have been sending your resume to “anyone and everyone.” The fact that you have been getting no response is not surprising. Frankly, anyone and everyone doesn’t care about you. Those interested in what you are about come from a specific target audience. The question is, who are they? Just as if you were selling any other product, you have to narrow your target audience and talk directly to them. Generic resumes are useless.

Potential employers don’t just care about what you did (or are doing) in your current job, they care about results; your impact and the difference you make. For example, one of my client’s early resumes simply listed “oversaw social media marketing” among his experiences. That alone, would stand little chance of getting any notice from a hiring manager. Add, however, the impact, “resulting in an increase of 1 million unique interactions during a six-month period” and voila! You get noticed, which is exactly what happened.

Once you have listed some of your most relevant experiences and their impact, you are ready to identify the skills it took to accomplish that impact. In other words, you are going to “back out” what it took for you to accomplish that result.

A great resume separates you from the masses quickly. It identifies unique and/or special features that you may bring to the party. For example, one of my clients had lived in Mexico for a year, was fluent in Spanish and had a great interest in Hispanic culture and tradition. This quality made him especially interesting to companies with global interests. Moral of the story: Think about yourself as a whole person, not just an employee. What does your total package look like? As with my client, you may find some experiences and/or skills you never imagined would be relevant, much less desirable for your resume.

A great resume is a strategic document. In many ways it is less about you and more about the prospective employer. You need to get inside that person/company’s shoes and look at the world from their point of view. They are looking for someone who will help them be more successful. This means that every word – every line – is geared to that goal. For example, another client’s goal statements read “To contribute strategic, analytical and creative skills that will help your organization achieve its most important marketing objectives.” Simple, but a strong reminder she is not just in it for herself, but to advance the organization’s goals. The moral of this particular story? Once again, know who you are applying to, including the culture, the goals, the problems, the tenor – in other words, everything you can find out about the organization. The good news is that information is readily available. A few clicks of your mouse can nearly always take you far enough inside the organization to give you valuable insights about your resume’s emphasis and direction.

While other factors can certainly influence whether you get that “call back,” I am confident that by implementing these few suggestions, you will greatly up your chances of getting on the “A-list” for interviews. Do your homework and enjoy the results!

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein is a business consultant and author of NICHECRAFT: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market, and Make Customers Seek You Out. To contact her with questions or comments, email or call 503-781-0966. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal and Dr. Niche reserve the right to publish your letter or an edited version in all print and electronic media

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