Use marketing writing best practices
When my sister was looking for a new job, she and I worked together to rethink her resume.
We applied best practices we already use in our marcomm writing, including:
- Focus on what the reader needs, not on you and your stuff. (That’s right: even in a resume. Especially in a resume!)
- Lift your ideas off the page with display copy. Use headlines, decks, subheads and bullets to position yourself against the competition.
- Use contemporary design techniques. If your resume looks like you typed it on a manual Remington, you’re not presenting yourself as well as you could. And don’t forget color!
- Report outcomes, not inputs. It’s not the job description, but what you did with the job that makes the difference.
- Drop resume 101 approaches. Do you still have an “objectives” section at the top? Your objective is to get the job you’re applying for. Target your objective to that particular job, and put that targeted objective in your cover e-mail, not on your resume.
Here’s how to rethink your own resume with these resume writing tips:
1. Start with a headline.
Your name is not a headline. Nor is it a benefit. It’s definitely not a compelling reason to read more.
Instead of using your name, write a headline that summarizes your most compelling position in the field. Lynn and I used this formula:
- Who? State your targeted position. Sales & marketing executive …
- Does what? What skills and successes set you apart from the competition? … develops creative solutions to meet customer needs …
- To what end? What would your potential employer get from these skills and successes? … to multiply sales to major retailers.
Sales & marketing executive
develops creative solutions to consumer needs
to multiply sales to major retailers
2. Write a deck.
Here, you have a chance to highlight another element or two that might grab a hiring manager’s attention. Lynn focused on her awards, a previous brand-name employer and her two most important skills.
Award-winning Hallmark Cards marketer
combines product development expertise
with proven closing skills
3. Introduce yourself.
Now that you’ve whet the recruiter’s appetite, give them your name and current title. Remember, you and your stuff are way less important to this audience than what you can do for them.
Unless you have your own brand name in your market, your name is the least interesting thing about you. Even if you’re as bright and accomplished as Lynn.
LynnWylie Marketing Vice President | Sales Vice President
a address p phone
e email w website
4. Summarize and synthesize.
Instead of the 1990s-era career objective, offer a career profile. What are the three, five or seven most fascinating, mouth-watering, tantalizing things you bring to this position?
That’s your lead.
- B2B and B2C marketing and sales executive with 25+ years experience in both large corporations and entrepreneurial startups
- Award-winning marketer for Hallmark Cards, Inc.
- New product developer focused on customized solutions for major customers
- Proven closer who’s consistently scored double-digit growth with Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and other key accounts
- Expert in developing new markets/channels; strategic planning; licensing; contract negotiations; serving as national media spokesperson
5. Get to the meat.
A few keys to the body of your resume:
- Develop an information hierarchy for section heads, company names, titles and dates. Especially if you’ve been around for a few years, as Lynn and I have, these headings and their sizes, colors, formats and positions should signal career advancement and also be easy to use and understand.
- Focus on outcomes, not inputs. We know you had the job, but what did you do with it? Name names and number numbers to really sell your accomplishments.
- List your accomplishments. Use bullets instead of paragraph form.
- Make your list parallel. Best bet: In your mind, think “At this job, I …” Then use the rest of that sentence as your bullet. [At this job, I …] Scored double-digit growth in revenue … (Hint: Every bullet should start with a verb.)
- Limit your list. Choose three to seven bullets per job.
Dynamic Confections | Maxfield Candy Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Vice President-Marketing (January 2004-April 2012)
Vice President-Sales & Marketing (April 2012-March 2013)
- As vice president of Marketing, also took on sales to key accounts: Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Aldi
Scored double-digit growth in revenue with these accounts by developing new product formats designed to meet specific retail needs
- Promoted to Vice President of Sales & Marketing — delivering 53% of company revenues with 3% of customers. As top salesperson, sold more than the next two salespeople combined
- Developed custom private-label programs for new customers/markets: Trader Joe’s, Costco, Aldi
- Managed Mrs. Fields licensing relationship and brand in the confections category — a multimillion-dollar confections brand in 10,000+ FDM channels in the United States
- Led product development and retail launch of Mrs. Fields Cookie Dough Delights, the market’s first shelf-stable cookie dough
Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO (1984-2004)
Vice President-Hallmark Licensing (1999-2004)
- Negotiated multimillion-dollar licensing contracts to extend the Hallmark brand and creative content into new businesses and channels, including Procter & Gamble, Hasbro, Fannie May Chocolates
- Responsible for $54 million in wholesale revenues
- Led cross-functional team of 14 marketing, creative, finance, sales, operations, and business services professionals
Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Collector’s club (1995-1999)
- Doubled club membership to 250,000 through consumer loyalty marketing programs — making it the largest collector’s club in the United States
- Helped drive ornament revenues from $169 million to $255 million a year
- Promoted ornament sales in collectibles industry through TV/radio appearances as national corporate spokesperson
- Received two “Homerun Awards” — annual honor recognizing Top 10 Hallmark marketers for significant business contributions
6. Wind down.
I’ve been in the workplace for 30 years. I see my age and experience — and yours and Lynn’s, as well — as a benefit, not as a handicap to hide.
That said, some of those early jobs may not be that interesting.
Instead of hiding them, I’d just taper off like Lynn does here. She starts by summarizing eight years of product development positions into one heading and three bullets.
Product Development –
Various positions in Hallmark Greeting Cards & Gift Wrap
(1987 – 1995)
- Developed new ribbon format (Curl Cascades) that delivered $16 million in new business — representing 40% of total bow/ribbon sales in launch year
- Named marketing lead to develop and launch first-to-market line of personalized greeting cards — launch year sales reached $10 million, exceeding plan by 10%
- Developed and launched new greeting card line (Just How I Feel) that exceeded $25 million in launch year revenues.
- Managed overall product development of 587 SKUs
Then, just list those early, not-very-interesting jobs. They show progression and fill in the timeline.
Product Manager – Gift Wrap
Product Manager – Greeting Cards
Product Development Strategist – Greeting Cards
Sr. Product Planner – Greeting Cards
Promotions Planner – Licensing
Special Events Coordinator
7. Cover the basics.
Unless you graduated summa cum laude or have a Phi Beta Kappa key or learned to speak Mandarin (or are a recent graduate) just list your school, degree and date.
No details necessary.
Kansas State University
BA, Journalism (1983)
The result should be a simple, two-page resume for even the most accomplished job searcher.
Good luck with your search.
Lynn not only landed a job with this resume, she landed three. (And accepted two!)
Here’s wishing you the same success with your job search.