Monday, November 26, 2012

5 Ways Your Resume is Like a Marriage Proposal

Written by Dani Mattisinko, Career Coach and Resume Expert


Engagement rings are not one size fits all. Your job search strategy shouldn’t be generic either - especially your resume.

When my husband proposed marriage, if the ring he chose didn’t fit, I would have answered “no.” Occupational hazard. Allow me to explain.

As a Human Resources professional, I’m trained to think like hiring managers do. In this case, I’d think if my husband-to-be can’t figure out my ring size, how much effort will he put forth in the marriage?


Here are 5 steps to customize your resume like a marriage proposal

Step 1. Become a detective

Did my husband-to-be sneak into my jewelry drawer and get my ring size? Snooping, err...research, is the key to selecting the right words for your resume.

Research your employer-to-be. Search beyond the “About Us” page on their website. Use sources like Linkedin and Twitter to get clues about your target company, their employees, and even competitors.

Learn as much as you can before you show, in writing, why you’re the best fit.

Step 2. Get help from your best friend

Having the official job description is like having your best friend help select your engagement ring. Both increase the odds you’ll get what you’re hoping for.

Use the job description to match the employer’s vocabulary. Is the job title “Client Services Representative?” Refer to people as clients instead of customers. Voila! Do you have Client Services experience? Of course you do! I bet you’ve used communication skills to resolve conflicts! Make your background relevant.

Focus on the skills and experience that the job description states is desirable.

Step 3. Prove you’re the one and only

Every word on your resume serves the purpose of separating you from the pack. 

Highlight career achievements, such as promotions or awards. Tell a compelling story that resonates with your target employer.

Avoid the phrase “Responsible for...” The tasks that follow are typically implied. Did you save money, make money, or improve something that created value? Did you do your job more efficiently or effectively than someone else? What was the result to the company? Describe what, where, when, why, and/or how. Be specific.

Provide quantifiable evidence about why you are the “the one.”

Step 4. Presentation counts

Not everyone has the budget to purchase an engagement ring for a Kardashian. Work with what you’ve got.

You can’t change your employment history because it is just that: history. However, you can reframe, reword, and reposition your past. Approximately 80% of your resume should match the job description in an obvious way.

What’s included in your resume is just as important as what’s not. Eliminate irrelevant information. Keep it clear and concise. Marry your employment history to your employers’ present needs.

Select the perfect format to accentuate your strengths. Reserve the most visual space for the most important message. Use white space and line breaks generously to make key information easy to find.

Show creativity and effort when you design the resume for your one and only employer.

Step 5. Make it special

Would you shout from a rooftop “Will you marry me?” to nobody in particular?

Yes, I suggest customizing your resume for plan B. Yes, one version per employer. No need to panic. Swapping out terminology and rearranging key phrases may be sufficient. If plan B is completely different than plan A, consider starting your resume for another employer from scratch.

Ensure that each version of your resume is a perfect fit for the recipient. How? Review steps 1 through 4.

Convince your target employer that you’re a match made in heaven. Use a strategically customized resume to get a “yes” to your employment.


Dani (Lerner) Mattisinko is addicted to helping women turn job search stress into success. Her experience in staffing, sales, and social media spans more than 15 years. Dani currently serves as a volunteer career coach and workshop facilitator at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in Phoenix, AZ.

Connect with Dani

Twitter @danimattisinko

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