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Marketing Yourself – Writing a Resume and Building your Image

September 25, 2009

Now that you have decided what you want to do, here are some tips to get your “marketing” materials ready. 

1.  Clean up everything people will see about you.  Start with your social networking sites and make sure your MySpace, Facebook and Twitter pages are in good shape.  You do not want a potential employer to see or hear about your wild weekend or your opinions about everything – especially if they are constantly negative, political or religious.

2.  Create an excellent LinkedIn profile and get connected to current and past coworkers, managers, recruiters, college friends, user group friends, etc.  It is important to build a good network so that people can find you and you can find the people you want.  I would make your profile like your resume with good details for your most recent positions (last five years is enough) with responsibilities, technologies, etc.  Try to get a couple of recommendations from co-workers, managers, vendors, clients, etc.  Include your picture – it doesn’t really matter what you look like, it’s just that people like to see who they are working with when they can.  Make sure the picture is professional in nature.  Have someone else read it for mistakes and make sure that your message is clear.  Make sure that you mark your profile that you are open to job opportunities, introductions, etc.

3.  Make sure your contact information is professional – an email address that you check often and a voicemail.  It is cute to have kids on your voicemail, but not when you are looking for a new job.  And your buddies might love your funny email address, but it might not suit everyone’s tastes. 

4.  Create a clean, complete, chronological and informative resume.  Include your professional email, cell/home phone and your LinkedIn link (this is on your profile page).  If you blog or tweet professionally, then include that as well. 

I wouldn’t go beyond three pages and you can truncate positions that are more than seven years old with a short description with the company name, dates, your title and a sentence or two to describe your responsibilities. 

Do not include an objective, but do include a Professional Summary.  This is your “elevator pitch” if someone asks you “what do you do at work?”.  I would keep this to 4-5 sentences and it should be an excellent summary of what you bring to the table.

I like the education and/or certifications to follow the Professional Summary – especially if you have a degree from a good college. 

Each description should show the company (and a brief description of what that company does if it is not a well-known company), the dates (include the months), your title and a description of your responsibilities.  For developers, this would mean what applications you developed, and the technologies, methodologies and tools that were used.  You can include a technical summary after each job description if there were a lot of different tools, but still include the languages, databases, etc. when you describe the application.  If you are a manager, talk about the teams you managed, your responsibilities, the technical environment, the methodologies used and the applications/industry.  Use verbs that show success – built, sold, shipped, implemented, designed, developed, etc.

List your accomplishments – if you can quantify results such as money saved, faster turnaround, etc., then include those first.  Add any projects that you would want to discuss in an interview that shows what you can do and where you bring value.  Include any awards or honors you received.  Bullets are best for this for this section and try to keep to a max of 3-4 for each position. 

Spell check!  Grammar check!  If English is not your first language, have someone else read it to make sure it flows correctly.

Customize your resume.  You may have several versions of your resume that focus on different skills,  projects, industries, applications, etc. that directly correlate to the position for which you are applying.  

I tend to shy away from hobbies unless they are things you are truly passionate about and show something about your work ethic or character like being a volunteer, Eagle Scout, marathon runner, etc..  Although, be careful, some might read that you have too much going on to fully dedicate yourself to the job. 

Develop a strong cover letter for each position.  This is an opportunity to quickly summarize why you are a fit and sell yourself.  Your resume must back up whatever you say in the cover letter.  This needs to be customized and tailored for each position.  

This is a great start and I will follow up with more ideas soon!

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