Your Resume: Opening Doors or Sealing Them Shut?

Cassie, a veteran bank branch manager, lost her job due to company cutbacks. At the time that I met her, she’d already begun applying for positions using the resume she had updated on her own.

Job opportunities, however, were not forthcoming.

Cassie is a dynamic professional whose genuine caring for her customers and proactive leadership in her role were evident in our conversations. Her colleagues recognized her to be a conscientious contributor. Knowing what she had to offer, she was bewildered and frustrated as to why she wasn’t getting measurable responses to her resume.

Having completed career assessment exercises, Cassie was able to articulate her skills and strengths very well when speaking. So, her verbal skills weren’t the issue. Upon examination of her resume, I quickly discerned a disconnect between what she verbalized and what was written on paper: Cassie’s resume was undeniably the weak link in her job search.

Our discussions focused on transforming her resume from task-focused duties to accomplishments-driven results. Our plan of action was to scrutinize each bullet point, asking the question ‘So what?’ to define and demonstrate the impact of what she did in each position.

We then strengthened the message of her Summary/Profile section that was substantiated by the new accomplishment statements listed in her Professional Experience section. What is she adept at? What is she known for? What is her Wow!  factor? We included in her Summary/Profile a listing of her core competencies. This serves as a resume’s “benefits and features” statement and contains keywords associated with being a knowledgeable and credible banking professional.

Cassie and I met regularly to refine her resume using a step-by-step editing process. It is often a challenge to convince a job seeker to write career accomplishments rather than list work tasks. Job seekers are typically reticent to embrace accomplishments for what they are, mistakenly thinking that it’s bragging, or they simply don’t see the value in the work and skills that they have come to view as ‘a given.’ (For more on this, read my article Modesty Can Be Seen as Weakness on Cassie fell into that category. Overcoming the mental hurdle of embracing one’s career accomplishments is a crucial part of the process toward creating a compelling marketing tool.

With the changes we made, Cassie reported an immediate and dramatic increase in the response rate to her resume. She began attending networking events and, with her easy-going personality and effortless communication style, generated ongoing discussions with industry colleagues.

Reaping the results of such effective job search principles, Cassie’s confidence and natural enthusiasm rebounded. She regularly noted that the positive reinforcement of our consulting partnership reassured her that everything would be okay. And so it was. Within months Cassie was offered a position as a branch manager at a major banking and trust company.

By: Charlene Holsendorff