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Your résumé - It's an ad!
07/01/2002 - Previous | Next | Career Corner Home
Karon Thackston -- You hear it all the time, "Your resume is a marketing tool." So why is it that no one ever asks a professional copywriter for advice when writing the most important ad of all time... the one that could land you an interview?

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I'll tell you from experience, as a copywriter I've landed many an interview based on the successful resumes I've written. Now I'd like to show you the tricks of the advertising trade that make all the difference when promoting yourself.

When writing copy, the first and most important rule is to know your target audience. In order to meet a buyer's need for a product or service you must understand what they consider to be important. Before beginning to write, copywriters always create a list of the problems the product/service solves. Next we list what positive end results the customer will get from using the product/service.

Secondly, we develop a list of selling points. From the customer's point-of-view, we answer the questions, "What's in it for me," "So what," and "Why should I buy from you?"

Third, and finally, we turn all the features of the product/service into benefits. So how does any of this apply to a resume? You are the product! You are selling yourself. Let's apply these tips to the objective and employment history sections of the resume. I'll use myself as an example.

What does my target audience consider to be important? Copy that sells! They want great copy that they can be proud to use, and that brings in customers.

What problem do I solve? No more wasted advertising money. By using my copywriting services, my customers are assured results. What positive end result will they receive? More customers.

The Objective

Let's begin using this information by looking at the objective section of your resume. This section is the most targeted area of your resume. So many people make the mistake of writing something to the effect of, "My objective is to obtain a position as a copywriter with a leading advertising agency." That says absolutely nothing to your potential employer. In this short paragraph, you must convey what you can do for the company. Using the information from our answered questions, I would write my objective this way:

Objective: To provide targeted, sales-oriented copywriting that brings customers exceptional response and decreases their advertising waste.

Not only does this let the manager know I can benefit him/her, but also his customers. Focusing on what results you can provide to both the company and their clients is an excellent way to get the attention of anyone looking to hire.

Employment History

What you usually find in the next section of a resume is the employment history. But what do you find happens in the actual interview? The manager is asking questions about what you did, not what your title was. Remember, we're targeting our audience. Let's give 'em what they want.

Instead of listing your title and responsibilities under each employer, insert a list of past successes. This is where you turn features into benefits. Let's look at an example or two.

Advantage Advertising Agency 3/89 - 6/94
Senior Copywriter
Conceptualized, created and distributed press releases that increased Web site hits by as much as 600 percent.
Wrote Web site copy that produced a customer conversion rate of 50:1.
Created, wrote and designed a direct mailing campaign with a 53 percent response rate.

Notice all these success statements talk about what I did and what end result those actions had. They all list benefits. The feature is that I can write press releases. The benefit is that those press releases increased Web site hits by as much as 600 percent.

If possible, try to focus the success statements toward things relevant to the company with which you wish to interview. Simply list two or three under each employer along with your title and the dates you worked at each company.

Finally, never - ever - mail your resume without a cover letter. Once again, focus on meeting the needs of your target audience. Get specific. If an advertisement states that an ad agency is looking for a copywriter who specializes in press campaigns, play up that fact in your cover letter. You might choose to mention, "My resume provides reference to multiple successes I've had with press campaigns. I will be pleased to provide more detailed information during our interview." This type statement is an excellent way to inform your prospect that your resume is just the tip of the iceberg.

Presentation is also a plus. While a professional-looking resume is important, don't go overboard. Colored paper, several fonts (type styles) and colored text make for a page that is difficult to read. Again, keep advertising principles in mind.

Use good quality white paper with black ink. Use no more than two different fonts, preferably a type style like Times Roman. And, of course, don't forget to include the basic information such as your educational background and contact information.

When you sit down to write, just remember: keep your target audience in mind during the entire creation process, provide a benefits-oriented objective and list your past successes. When you do, you are well on your way to scheduling interviews and landing that new job!

Karon Thackston is Owner and President of KT & Associates.

(c) 2002 Karon Thackston

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal or medical professional.

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