How Organized is Your Resume?

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Organization may seem like a dull topic that is unrelated to the success of your job search. However, the thought you put into the message in your resume is critical to gaining positive attention from hiring managers. Everyone knows that the resume has become the calling card of the successful job candidate, a comparison that highlights the importance of brevity and careful consideration in all choices related to pulling together this crucial document. Consider the organizational structure of your resume to chart your own success!

What is your central message?

Typically the message you want to convey to the potential employer is the value of your skills in meeting their needs. Think about the problems you can solve. Research the company to find out challenges recently faced or forecast in the coming months. Then position yourself as the go-to person who can effectively address these challenges, including the potential cost savings or profit you could realize for the company. Even if your skills are more people-oriented, a cohesive team or strategies to retain staff can potentially save millions for the organization. Take a careful analysis of your skills and package them in a way that is irresistible to the hiring manager who is facing very real problems as a result of the open position. Remember, your central message answers the question of “what can I do for the organization?”

How do your skills and experiences support your central message?

Consider organizing your messages in hierarchical fashion, similar to a company’s organizational chart, suggests Jay Block, Executive Career Coach and author. Begin with your central message and then construct a hierarchy of messages that filters down to more details at lower levels in the same way as the traditional organizational chart is used for businesses. The first level of supporting messages typically contains the broad aspects of job responsibilities and typical duties or challenges you solved.

Your central message is at the top of the hierarchy. An example might be “Multimillion dollar sales producer.” As a central message, this phrase conveys your ability to expand sales and produce revenue. Now visualize how a typical organizational chart is laid out from this central message. Most charts have three or four supporting messages linked to the central message. You may organize these supporting messages as specific positions, skills, or achievements, but always try to answer the question of “what can I do for the company in this position?”

How do your achievements support your central message?

Include specific examples of achievements or accomplishments in the third tier of the organizational chart. In your resume, these are typically listed as bullet points that follow your job description. Be certain to use action verbs to convey how dynamic and action-oriented you are in addressing problems and concerns. Examples include “directed” or “inventoried” as compared to “responsible for” or “took inventory.”

How does your experience add value for the company?

Adding value is the key to the success of your resume in doing its job of getting you the position!  Although this question should undergird every organizational aspect of your resume, you can demonstrate your diversity and breadth of experience by including Board memberships, professional associations, or development activities that strengthen the message of your value to the company. In terms of the organizational chart approach, these value-added activities would be included in the third or fourth tier of the chart. Provide this additional detail with specific examples that build on the achievements list in the previous levels of your “chart.”

By having a well-organized resume, you demonstrate clear thinking and goal-oriented behavior. In addition, this level of organization helps drive home your strengths and value to the hiring manager by presenting a well thought out answer to their problems. It’s you! Draw up your own organizational chart to create a winning resume!