If I told you that one word can change your resume and dramatically improve your job search results, would you think I was nuts?

Let me explain why I’m not.

One of the keys to a successful resume is to ensure that it clearly communicates your unique value proposition - what makes you different from all the other job seekers out there? This value proposition should be the focus of every word of your resume, so that employers can’t help but get the message you want them to get.

One of my favorite strategies to do this is to distill the client’s value proposition into one word (or sometimes one brief phrase). Doing this helps me create a focus for the resume, which in turn helps me choose what content to highlight and what content to leave off the resume all together.

How Do You find Your Word?

I choose the word or phrase based on two things:

First, I define the blend of skills, experiences and personality traits that make my client unique.

Then I look at what’s important to the companies who are hiring for this type of position and identify what they will MOST like about my client (they may like lots of things but I am looking for the most important aspect of their experience).

Then I come up with a word or short phrase that encapsulates that one thing.

How it Worked for One Client

So to give you a specific example, one former client was a senior tax executive. He was unusual because he had a breadth of experience that spanned all aspects of taxes from having worked at the IRS, to being a tax lawyer, to working for a top consulting firm providing tax guidance on highly complex issues. He worried that his background was too diversified - he was shooting for a position as the top tax executive in a large corporation but he felt that because he had never held such a role before, employers would dismiss him.

In reviewing his goals and his experience, I felt that the one key word for him was “expertise.” His broad-based background gave him unique insights and experiences. He hadn’t just worked on tax issues for one company, he had worked on them for many companies. He hadn’t just viewed them from the inside, but from the outside as a tax attorney andas a consultant. Having decided that ‘expertise’ was the core concept for his resume, I then focused on gathering the data to support that concept so that we could lead his resume with a strong statement and then support that statement throughout the document.

You can see the end result here (opens PDF).

This resume got the desired result within 3 months, which is a relatively short time for such a senior-level position. The staff at the Fortune 500 company where Peter now works told him that his resume was the best one they saw and given that it’s message was so carefully crafted, this is no surprise.

In Summary

Knowing your one word is a powerful way to transform your resume from a collection of facts into a cohesive marketing document that clearly positions you for success.

So what’s your one word?

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