6 Ways to Make Your Résumé Stand Out

6 Ways to Make Your Résumé Stand Out

Every bullet point on your résumé should fulfill the “VNR” formula.

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Jonathan Rick

March 14, 2018
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  1. THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, College Park, Maryland Adjunct Professor of

    Business Writing, 2014 – Present • Teach the principles of business writing, encompassing subjects from proposals to PowerPoint, from memos to media training to, from branding to blogging. • Earn enthusiastic evaluations from colleagues and students, many of whom volunteer to be my teaching assistant or hire me for subsequent ghostwriting. • Nominated, by students, for a teaching award from the Office of Undergraduate Studies for “gaining and holding the attention of students in a way that few other classes do.” THE JONATHAN RICK GROUP, Arlington, Virginia President, 2011 – Present • Develop crisp and cogent copy that entertains readers as much as it educates them. • Deliver workshops on corporate communication to Fortune 1,000 companies, national nonprofits, federal agencies, and individual executives. • Conduct communication boot camps for AXA, the Food and Drug Administration, Johns Hopkins University, Booz Allen Hamilton, and chambers of commerce around the country. ROCK CREEK STRATEGIC MARKETING, Chevy Chase, Maryland Senior Strategist, 2010 – 2011 Led highly collaborative teams of strategists, technologists, and designers on innovative social media and advocacy projects that won rave reviews from demanding clients.
  2. From Subject Line Time Carrie Bradshaw Applying for Strategist Position

    8:00 am Samantha Jones I Want to Be Your Next Strategist! 6:03 am Charlotte York Please Accept My Résumé Aug 5 Miranda Hobbes Strategist Aug 5 Steve Brady The United Nations Aug 5 John J. Preston Strategist – John J. Preston Aug 5 Stanford Blatch Application for U.N. Strategist Aug 5 Trey MacDougal Strategist Position Aug 5 Aidan U.N. strategist Aug 5 H. Goldenblatt Job Posting #349 Aug 5 Jerry “Smith” Jerrod Aug 4 magda Strategy Aug 4
  3. Résumés are a touchy subject. Because they’re so personal, they

    inspire strongly felt beliefs. Yet even experts disagree about many of the rules. So, if something I suggest conflicts with what you’ve been taught, please say so.
  4. Right Wrong resume résumé

  5. 1. Stages 2. Job Description 3. Achievements 4. Aesthetics 5.

    Rookie Mistakes 6. Pro Tricks
  6. Know the Process 1 #

  7. Stage Purpose Résumé Screening Call Interviews Are you qualified to

    do the job? Can you speak to these qualifications? Do you fit our culture? Cover Letter Should I read your résumé?
  8. “He or she who gets hired is not necessarily the

    one who can do that job best; but the one who knows the most about how to get hired.” — Richard Bolles
  9. Write to the Job Description 2 #

  10. What the Client Is Looking For What I Call Myself

    A ghostwriter. A speechwriter.
  11. None
  12. 5 business development 3 aggressive

  13. None
  14. Résumé #3 Workshops Résumé #1 Writing Résumé #2 Social Media

  15. If I asked you to send me your résumé, what

    would you do?
  16. Transform Your Activities Into Achievements 3 #

  17. V R N N R

  18. V R N erbs

  19. V R N N umbers

  20. V R N N R esults

  21. V R N erbs

  22. Verbs 1. Keep your résumé consistent. 2. Make your work

    sound impressive.
  23. Achievement Activity Held a weekly status meeting Led a weekly

    status meeting
  24. Achievement Activity Maintained a customer mailing list Managed a customer

    mailing list
  25. V R N N umbers

  26. Numbers 1. Provide proof that your claims are more than

    just puffery. 2. Concretize your work, making it specific and real.
  27. Achievement Activity Supervised researchers Supervised 12 researchers

  28. But…  I don’t really work with hard numbers. 

    My job leans more on softer skills.  I don’t have data to pull from.
  29. Achievement Activity Wrote daily summaries of the top news stories

    for the firm’s C.E.O. Wrote daily summaries of the top three to five news stories for the firm’s C.E.O.
  30. Achievement Activity Edited opinion articles for the Diamondback, UMD’s independent,

    student-run newspaper Edited, on average, five opinion articles each week for the Diamondback, UMD’s independent, student-run newspaper
  31. Achievement Activity Spearheaded a volunteer- driven walk to raise money

    for breast-cancer research Spearheaded a charity walk to raise money for breast- cancer research, and recruited 12 volunteers
  32. V R N N R esults

  33. Results 1. Help the hiring manager imagine that you can

    achieve the same results for his company. 2. Transform an activity into an accomplishment.
  34. Achievement Activity Designed ads Designed ads that won over a

    demanding client
  35. Achievement Activity Wrote press releases Wrote press releases that lifted

    CPAC’s media coverage by 20%
  36. Get specific!

  37. Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer professionals

    to discuss possible steps toward improving relations among diverse department entities
  38. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing Initiated and oversaw

  39. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer

    professionals Initiated and oversaw a conference of IT specialists
  40. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer

    professionals to discuss possible steps toward improving relations Initiated and oversaw a conference of IT specialists to foster cooperation and communication
  41. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer

    professionals to discuss possible steps toward improving relations among diverse department entities Initiated and oversaw a conference of IT specialists to foster cooperation and communication across 7 departments
  42. YOU DECIDE 1. Profiled local businesses for the newspaper’s “Features”

    section. 2. Reported and wrote articles for the “Politics” desk that routinely drew, on average, 50,000 pageviews. 3. Monitored the general inbox and assembled newsworthy items for the authors of Playbook, Politico’s flagship e-newsletter. 4. Wrote an op-ed about Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court that was tweeted by Kellyanne Conway (2.8M followers). 5. Broke the news that Morgan Ortagus would be the State Department’s new spokeswoman, thus landing a link on the Drudge Report.
  43. There’s an exception to “VNR.” Well, maybe just “NR.” It’s

    the first bullet point for each position. Think of that bullet point as similar to a topic sentence in a paragraph: It can introduce your reader to what comes next. To wit: Most bullets summarize individual tasks or specific projects. Your first should summarize your entire job.
  44. The Jonathan Rick Group President Orchestrate high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns that

    engender buzz, drive public opinion, and motivate people to action.
  45. Orchestrates Orchestrate Orchestrate high-stakes digital- marketing campaigns that engender buzz,

    drive public opinion, and motivate people to action. Orchestrates high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns that engender buzz, drive public opinion, and motivate people to action.
  46. Orchestrates Orchestrate I orchestrate high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns that engender buzz,

    drive public opinion, and motivate people to action. I orchestrates high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns that engender buzz, drive public opinion, and motivate people to action.
  47. Care About Aesthetics 4 #

  48. Does the thickness of the paper you use matter?

  49. What size font should you use?

  50. Is it ok to use colors?

  51. How can you vertically align the dates for each of

    your jobs?
  52. None
  53. 1 2 3

  54. Should you include an “objective” or “mission statement”?

  55. Objective To get a job that helps me pay the

    rent.
  56. Mission Statement To make a lot of money without doing

    a lot of work.
  57. Should you include a “summary”?

  58. Summary An energetic and enterprising digital- marketing consultant. Excel at

    writing crisp, convincing content; fostering a culture of creativity; and turning analytics into actionable insights.
  59. Avoid Rookie Mistakes 5 #

  60. Don’t be selfish.

  61. “The hiring manager isn’t here to make your dreams come

    true. They’re in it for themselves. OK, that’s harsh, but the truth is that they’re looking for an awesome candidate to come in and do a kick-ass job that’ll help them run their department (or company) more efficiently and successfully.” — Lisa Siva
  62. Selfless Selfish Expanded my knowledge of GAAP compliance. Stayed abreast

    of the latest GAAP regulations.
  63. Selfless Selfish Gained networking experience by meeting with other chapter

    presidents. Met regularly with other chapter presidents to swap best practices and coordinate activities.
  64. Selfless Selfish Honed time-management skills. Juggled competing client demands without

    sacrificing the quality of service.
  65. Selfless Selfish Learned the importance of corporate social responsibility. Helped

    define Exxon’s policy on corporate social responsibility by contributing research to the company’s 2018 annual report.
  66. Be consistent.

  67. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Employee of the Month ❌ Served as

    first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls ❌ Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews ✓ Named Employee of the Month for overtime work ✓ Served as first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls ✓ Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews
  68. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Named Employee of the Month for overtime

    work. ❌ Served as first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls. ❌ Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews ✓ Named Employee of the Month for overtime work. ✓ Served as first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls. ✓ Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews.
  69. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Short Hills, NJ ❌ Clinton, NY ❌

    Arlington, V.A. ✓ Short Hills, NJ ✓ Clinton, NY ✓ Arlington, VA
  70. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Human Resources Director ❌ Associate Director of

    Human Resources ❌ Assistant Director of Human Resources ✓ Director of Human Resources ✓ Associate Director of Human Resources ✓ Assistant Director of Human Resources
  71. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ 2015 - Present ❌ 2011- 2015 ❌

    2008 - 2011 ❌ 2005 - 2008 ✓ 2015 – Present ✓ 2011 – 2015 ✓ 2008 – 2011 ✓ 2005 – 2008
  72. How can I show experience if I don’t have any?

  73. 1. Coursework 2. Internships 3. Clubs 4. Sports Teams 5.

    Personal Projects
  74. Account Executive, Advertising Sales Yellow Book Seriously: I sold phone-book

    ads. Right when smartphones came out. In the Detroit area. The joke just writes itself. What do phone-book ads have to do with my current copywriting calling? Only everything. As a salesman, I hit the streets and talked every day with small-business owners about their passions, their dreams, their challenges. I realized that the smartest entrepreneurs have a deep appreciation for the power of marketing and a heightened BS detector. So, I learned how to shut up and listen, how to unearth hidden emotional pains and triggers, and how to convince people to buy with their hearts. This B2B knowledge now informs every project I take on.
  75. Barista Latte Larry’s On the weekends in high school, I

    was an entry-level, minimum- wage barista at the campus coffee shop. Not the most glamourous job, but nonetheless a critical one. Really? What exactly does the experience of serving cups of Joe have to do with my career in journalism? Only everything. Let me explain. Dealing with people, especially on a campus as big and as diverse as that of the University of Maryland’s, is tough. Some customers are belligerent; others struggle with spoken English; others are exactly the entitled narcissists whom society has come to associate with Gen Z. Yet whatever the situation, I found a way to defuse it. Sometimes that meant giving away a free scone. Sometimes that meant adding an extra shot of expresso on the house. Sometimes that meant saying “sorry” (even when I wasn’t wrong). As a reporter, I’ll encounter sources of all varieties. Some of these folks will be weird; others will be wonderful. Yet in order to succeed, I’ll have to cultivate all comers. I’ll have to be humble, adaptable, and welcoming — three traits that I mastered as a college barista.
  76. How long should your résumé be?

  77. None
  78. None
  79. Should you list your references?

  80. In the “heading” space for each job, how many identifying

    details do you need?
  81. 1. Your Employer 2. Your Title 3. Your Location 4.

    Your Dates
  82. 1. I worked at ________, 2. where I was a

    ________, 3. located in ________, 4. from ________.
  83. Samantha Jones PR Founder New York, New York 1998 –

    2004
  84. Master the Tricks Used by the Pros 6 #

  85. Is it ok to change your job title?

  86. Résumé Business Card Senior Consultant Senior Consultant, Alumni Affairs

  87. Elevator Pitch Contract Lecturer Adjunct Professor

  88. Describe any employers that your audience might not recognize.

  89. Clear Unclear Susan Davis International Account Executive Launched and led

    the digital department. Susan Davis International Account Executive Launched and led the digital department of this boutique PR agency.
  90. Clear Unclear The USMCA Coalition Executive Director Founded this nonprofit

    to lobby for congressional approval of the 2018 North American trade deal. The USMCA Coalition Executive Director Founded this nonprofit, which consists of the top business trade associations, to lobby for congressional approval of the 2018 North American trade deal.
  91. Should you include a “skills” section?

  92. Embarrassing ❌ Word ❌ Google Docs ❌ Windows ❌ Social

    Media
  93. Useful Useless ❌ Excel ❌ Photoshop ✓ Created sophisticated pivot

    tables in Excel to track inventory in real time ✓ Designed images and ads, in Photoshop, for clients’ Facebook and Twitter accounts
  94. Uncommon Common ❌ French (fluent) ❌ Spanish (fluent) ❌ German

    (conversational) ✓ Speak and write in three languages (English, French, and Spanish), and converse in a fourth (German)
  95. Uncommon Common ❌ Swimming ✓ Swim five days a week

    with a local Masters team, and have been competing in meets since I was seven
  96. Common ❌ Google Ads certification, 2016

  97. None
  98. 5 Reasons Why People Think They Need a “Skills” Section

    on Their Résumé — And Why They’re Wrong JONATHANRICK.COM
  99. Should you call the section for your job history “Experience”?

  100. Uncommon Common ❌ Experience ❌ Work Experience ❌ Job History

    ✓ Leadership Experience ✓ Editorial Expertise ✓ Analytics Accomplishments
  101. How should you present numbers?

  102. With Context Without Context Grew sales to $5M/year Grew sales

    by 66%, from $3M/year to $5M/year
  103. #5 $12,500 #1 $12,329 #2 $12,000+ #3 $12,300 #4 ~$12,500

  104. #5 255 tickets #1 254 tickets #2 Over 250 tickets

    #3 300 tickets #4 250 tickets
  105. But never, ever lie.

  106. None
  107. None
  108. None
  109. How do you account for time off?

  110. Multitasking Might Stay at Home Mom, 2008 – 2018 ❖

    Raised 3 young children, instilling in each the values of hard work, honesty, and excellence. ❖ Managed household finances, creating and adhering to a budget for a family of 6. ❖ Implemented HR procedures by resolving all manner of complaints and arguments.
  111. RECAP 1. What’s the purpose of a résumé? 2. Name

    a website that identifies key phrases in a job description. 3. Each one of your bullet points should ideally adhere to the “VNR” formula. What’s “VNR”? 4. Name one rookie mistake. 5. How can you align dates? 6. Should you include a “summary”? 7. Instead of calling your job history “experience,” what might you call it?
  112. LET’S REVIEW YOUR RÉSUMÉS! hi@jonathanrick.com