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Your resume is your key branding document. Don’t just document your work history, promote it! Your resume is your sales brochure – for you. Follow the same guidelines that make for a good ad: directly address readers’ needs, present key selling points first to keep the reader’s interest, and use strong, promotional language that is concise and easy to read.

Think strategically.

As you work on your resume, think strategically. Consider what your pitch is to the employers you are targeting and craft a message that conveys that clearly, quickly and thoroughly. Does each item on your resume help sell you to future employers?

Make it easy for employers to see the value-add you would bring to their team by keeping your message in mind as you craft each section of the resume. Don’t simply recount projects, duties and tasks. Instead, consider what you want each item to convey about you and be sure to state that directly.

Identify your target audience.

Before writing or revising your resume, consider your goals. The resume should directly address the needs of employers in your market, meaning your target industry, function, and level. If you are not sure what you want to do next, it will be time well spent to work on gaining some clarity in that area first. It will be that much more challenging to craft an effective message if you do not know your target audience!

It is possible to write a reasonably good general resume simply based on your experience. After all, the key themes of your professional life are what they are. However, a targeted resume will involve consciously considering which of those themes to highlight for a particular market and which to de-emphasize.

Assess employers’ needs.

Gain insights into what employers in your target markets are looking for.

  • Read jobs ads: Review those that match your goals to note key themes that emerge. What skills, industry experience, knowledge areas, or even personal traits seem to be appearing again and again in the ads?
  • Create a word cloud: Use a free online word-cloud tool, such as, to determine which words appear most frequently in the ads, and then create a word cloud of your resume to see if the themes match.
  • Use your network: Ask a few trusted contacts in your target field/industry for their insights on the skills and experience they think are critical in today’s market.
  • Leverage recruiters: If you will be working with headhunters or recruiters, seek their opinions on what employers are currently seeking.

Resume Tips