Video Title: Marketing Yourself Through Resumes and Cover Letters
Welcome to the session, Marketing Your Qualifications Through Resumes and Cover Letters. This session includes in-depth content so you may want to print a copy of the PowerPoint slides to take notes.
Before we get started, we would like to introduce this graphic based on concepts from Hermina Ibarra’s book, Working Identity. This visual represents our holistic approach to proactive career management. Our career identities change as we gain new experiences, meet new people, and tell a new story about our academic and professional endeavors. We hope that you find this framework helpful as you progress through your academic program and start your next career chapter. In this session, we will focus on how to capture your story on your resume and cover letter. Keeping this framework in mind
Our objectives for this session are to: Provide strategies to create results-oriented resumes and cover letters And Identify key qualifications to tailor materials toward specific job postings
What is the purpose of your resume and cover letter? They are your marketing tools, and often your first impression. They are also part of the screening process. They screen you in or screen you out. A strong resume and cover letter can help you stand out from other qualified applicants, by showcasing your skills, experience, and knowledge; and how you can add value to the employer. Now that we looked at the purpose of resumes and cover letters, how do we create them? Here is the $20,000 question. What framework can help us develop strong documents that stand out in the application process?
The answer is the CAR framework! CAR stands for Challenge- What was the Problem? Action- What did you do to solve the problem? Did you initiate it? Result- Who or what was impacted and how? Quantify whenever possible. For example: number of people served? Processes improved? Goals met? Money saved? The CAR framework is also a useful approach to take in your interviews, performance reviews elevator pitch (or introduction) and your LinkedIn profile Now, let’s look at the broader process of developing your resume and Cover letter.
These are the major components of the resume writing process that we’ll cover to help you tailor your resume toward specific positions. 1. Review the position requirements, and job description. 2. Research the company. 3. Match your skills to the qualifications of the position. 4. Write strong achievement or skill statements using the CAR framework. 5. Finally, showcase your brand in your resume. When thinking about your brand, ask yourself: what are my strengths? What makes me stand out from other applicants?
Now that we’ve discussed the resume writing process, we’d like to present a sample job posting for a Business Operations Analyst position that we adapted from an actual advertisement on Indeed.com For the purpose of our example today, our applicant, Stella Jones, is a career transitioner who is pursuing her MBA with a specialization in Leadership. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and is currently employed as a Customer Service Supervisor. Her goal is to transition into a business analyst role. Let’s help Stella develop targeted, tailored materials to maximize her chance of landing an interview with XYZ Company! The job posting lists XYZ’s company profile. We learn that XYZ is one of the largest and fastest growing community banks in Texas with over 10 billion in assets, 1200 employees, and 60 banking centers throughout the state. We learn about XYZ’s products and services and its strong focus on quality and customer service. We can also visit XYZ’s website to read their vision and mission, and further research their products, services, people, and clients. By researching the potential employer, we gain insights into what is important to THEM. This helps us provide specific examples of how we can add value and contribute to their overall success.
Now let’s review the job description for duties and qualifications. XYZ is seeking a business operations analyst who will…. • Review, analyze and evaluate business metrics and processes • Resolve problems and improve systems • Design new systems and processes • Perform project management functions
The Qualifications for this position are: • Bachelor’s degree in business or related field; MBA preferred • 4 + years of experience in business systems, processes, and analysis (graduate coursework may meet requirement) • Strong project management and teamwork skills • Banking center operations or call center experience preferred
To further highlight the key skills and qualifications the employer is seeking, we created a word cloud of the full job posting using Wordle.net. Words that appear most often are largest in the word cloud. What words “pop out” on this page? Some of the words are: systems, processes, business, reports, customer, MBA, leadership, management, project, analysis and others. These are all buzz words and keywords to keep in mind as we work to tailor Stella’s resume toward this specific opportunity.
Another effective tool for resume writing is the T-Style skills match table. As an example, our applicant brings many transferable skills into the business operations analyst role from her experience in customer service. She also brings knowledge from her academic program. To help create her resume, we developed a T-Style table that matches XYZ Company’s needs (which are taken from the job description, qualifications, and word cloud) with Stella’s transferable skills and qualifications. Through specific examples we identified a clear match: Here Stella provides a specific example of how she reviewed and analyzed business metrics and processes: “She analyzed and monitored quality service for inbound and outbound calls, and recommended improvements to the quality assurance manager.” Next, she indicates how she improved systems and processes by quantifying her results: “improving departmental efficiency by 20% through training, coaching, and process improvement initiatives.” Stella not only tells, but also SHOWS her teamwork and collaboration skills by indicating that she supervised a team of 23 customer service representatives. Next, she quantifies her 3+years of call center experience and highlights her promotion to supervisor based on her stellar performance, leadership, and collaboration.
Stella provides a specific example of how she handled and resolved customer complaints and issues; and developed procedures and job aids that helped improve customer satisfaction by 8%. By focusing on RESULTS, Stella further highlights her “brand” as a problem-solver. This will help her stand out from other applicants. Stella matches her credentials with those in the job posting, and also highlights her related coursework in dynamic leadership, business performance, managing people, and creating a culture of innovation. Finally, the business operations analyst position requires strong technology skills. Stella lists specific examples of how she used PowerPoint, Excel, Word and SharePoint.
Now that we’ve researched the company, closely reviewed the job posting, identified buzzwords/keywords, and performed a skills match, let’s convert this information into a tailored resume.
In the next few slides we will provide examples of 4 core sections to include on our resume. These are: Contact Information, Summary of Qualifications (also often called a Career Profile or Summary), an Education section, and an Experience section. The contact information includes her address, phone number, a professional or academic email address, and a link to her LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site which many employers and recruiters use to find qualified candidates. The summary of qualifications is the most important section of the resume. This section is used to “sum up” relevant experience, highlight greatest strengths, and showcase her “brand” (or what makes her unique and stand out from other qualified applicants). The first sentence of Stella’s summary section “brands” her beyond her current job title of Customer Service Supervisor. Here, she describes herself as an “efficient quality improvement leader and MBA Leadership student with 3+ years’ call center experience in financial products.” The following sentences taken from the Skills Match Table highlight her key accomplishments. In the last sentence, she includes graduate coursework topics that relate to her job target. Finally, she lists competencies that incorporate keywords/buzzwords the employer is seeking.
The Education section lists Stella’s degrees and colleges/universities in reverse chronological order. Degrees are bolded and graduation years are listed on the right. Since she is currently completing her MBA, she would list the year she is expected to graduate from her program.
The last core section is Professional Experience. Positions are listed in reverse chronological order (with the most recent job first). We can see here that Stella advanced from a Customer Service Representative position to a Customer Service Supervisor at ABC Corporation. This sample provides a nice, clean format to organize positions within the Professional Experience section. To create strong accomplishment statements under these positions, we referred to the Skills Match table and incorporated the CAR framework. Let’s look at the first bullet. Note how the three parts of the CAR framework-challenge, action, and result are used: Supervised 23 customer service reps in a fast-paced environment, building a team that consistently exceeded departmental performance goals by 15%.
Now that we’ve created the core sections of Stella’s resume, let’s find out how we did. Words that “pop out” on Stella’s document are: quality, customer and leadership. Other words that stand out are reports, improvement, initiatives, and specific computer skills in PowerPoint, SharePoint, Excel and Word. This word cloud helps us think like an HR recruiter. Does this resume match? In Stella’s case, she may want to place even more emphasis on words such as systems, processes, and business, since those were the strongest terms in the job posting word cloud.
Now that we’ve discussed core resume sections, let’s explore a few additional sections you may want to include on your resume. Add technical skills such as software applications, and list any honors or awards you may have received. If you belong to professional associations, create an “Affiliations” or a “Memberships” section. List professional development activities you’ve attended, and community service or volunteer work. Do you have specific certifications in your field? If so, create a Certifications section. If you’ve presented at conferences or other professional events, you may want to create a Presentations section. If your presentations were more informal, you could label this section “Workshops Delivered” or “Training Delivered.” If you have formal publications, list them on your resume! What about articles you may have written for blogs or newsletters? List those in a section titled “Articles” Additional sections can also be added based on your specific skills, experience and involvement.
Your resume is your marketing tool so put your best foot forward! We recommend that your resume be 1-2 pages in length. In most cases, a one page resume is appropriate if you are just starting out in your field. Create a two page-resume if you are a mid-career professional. For a professional look, we recommend using 1 inch margins on all sides. Choose an 11 to 12 point font that is easy to read, such as Arial or Times New Roman. Your font needs to be consistent throughout the document. Organize your resume in sections as we’ve done in our sample; and use simple, concise language that maximizes keywords and buzzwords in your industry. Use concise phrases instead of full sentences and avoid jargon or slang and abbreviations. Always use spell check and proofread your document to eliminate all typos and grammatical errors. Now that we’ve created a quality resume, let’s shift our focus to cover letters.
Now, let’s add a stellar cover letter to Stella’s application….. The 1st paragraph should state the position of interest and how the applicant learned about the position. Stella states that her application is for the Business Operations Analyst position and that she learned about the position through the company website. If she was referred by a mutually respected contact or employee, she would include that information. The 1st paragraph should also state why the applicant is interested in the organization and the position based on the applicant’s research and knowledge. She states that she is impressed with the array of financial products and services and the employer’s commitment to community development and customer service. Her next statement is a transition to her qualifications for this specific position. She states, she has the combination of education and three years of experience in building efficient and quality driven customer service teams. Also, note that she uses standard business letter formatting and includes a link to her LinkedIn profile.
In the second paragraph, Stella highlights her key accomplishments using the CAR framework and quantifies where appropriate. For example, The Challenge is to: resolve over 12 hundred customer complaints and issues per week. The Action is: Collaborating with the quality assurance manager on analyzing metrics, improving processes, and strengthening training programs, The Result is: Improved departmental workflow efficiency and reduced customer complaints by 12%.” The third paragraph highlights her educational qualifications and how they relate to the qualifications for the job.
The last paragraph highlights her enthusiasm for the position and her interest in connecting to further discuss her qualifications. She states, “I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success and growth of XYZ Company. My resume is attached for your review. I look forward to further discussing my qualifications with you.”
To recap the sections of the Cover letter: In the opening paragraph, state the position of interest, and how you learned about the position, and why you are interested. In the second and third paragraphs, state how you are qualified for the position, what you can do to solve the employers problems, and quantify where appropriate. In the closing paragraph, show your enthusiasm for the position and your interest in connecting further. Keep your cover letter to no more than one page. Next, we are going to look at some helpful resources on the Career Services website.
The Career Services website can be accessed from your myWalden portal, under the Academics tab, or by going directly to the website at careercenter.waldenu.edu. On the horizontal navigation bar, you will see the resume and CV’s tab. Here you can view tips for tailoring your documents.
Also on our website, I want to highlight our webinars. Every month we deliver several live webinars. If you are unable to attend live, you can view them in the archived webinars gallery. A few to highlight are: Crafting Effective Resumes, Creating Your CV, Building Your Professional Brand, and the Job Search Support Series.
We invite you to join Walden’s Career Services LinkedIn Group, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, access our YouTube channel, explore OptimalResume, and read student success stories on our blog. Thank you for viewing this session on Marketing Your Qualifications Through Resumes and Cover Letters.