As I have mentioned before, we receive and review thousands of resumes each year here at the Barrett Group. It is rare that we see resumes that we cannot improve.
Firstly, there is the structure of the resume. Then there is, of course, the targeting. And perhaps most importantly, there is the quantification of the candidate’s qualities.
Let me illustrate this last point with an anecdote from my past.
At one point in my career, I felt I had a strong business development track record in one industry that I wished to apply to another industry (not to mention continent). So, I pulled together a slender binder of isolated, black and white charts, each highlighting some specific and highly quantified achievement.
For example, (these are only illustrative numbers, and remember, this was quite some time ago) I grew revenue for my division by more than 330% from $300,000 to $1,000,000. I expanded the client base by a factor of 5 from 400 to almost 2,000. I dug the publishing division out of a deep red hole, turned it around, and grew revenue by more than 600%… etc.
The binder was perhaps 20 pages long with each page devoted to one chart illustrating some quantified achievement on behalf of my then employer.
I picked out a handful of companies in Europe using a directory from the public library, selecting the targeted executive carefully, and sent each of them a binder and a cover letter by airmail.
Within two weeks I received a call from the Belgian office of a NYSE listed company. It was the European HR VP who had a few questions for me. He and I got on well, and I was then invited to the NJ office for an interview with a VP charged with European business development. It seems that the opportunity in Eastern Europe was just opening up and they needed someone who spoke a relevant language with sufficient entrepreneurial fervor to get things done on the ground with relatively little support.
The VP and I met and also got on quite well. He had my binder and asked me about it, leafing thoughtfully through the whole thing as we talked. At the end of the interview he shared that the name of the company (CPC) was jokingly interpreted on the inside as “the Chart Producing Company” because the whole organization communicated largely by PowerPoint. My resume in chart form fit absolutely perfectly with their culture.
I got the job, doubled my salary, and moved to Europe.
But the lessons here are at least two for today’s job seeker:
First, quantify your achievements. Turn them into numbers and percentages. This makes them transferable from industry to industry. Summarize quantitative results toward the top of your resume and don’t bury them in lots of extraneous explanation that no one will read.
Second, notice how perfectly in this case the unpublished market worked to my advantage. My future employer did not even know they were looking for someone like me, let alone from another country, until I showed up, packaged in the right way—the right person at the right time.
Certainly, there was a lot of serendipity at work in this case, however, the Barrett Group takes a lot of the “luck” out of the equation because we have helped our clients do this literally thousands of times.
So remember to quantify your quality if you want people to absorb it quickly, and consider teaming up with an experienced career change professional such as the Barrett Group if you want to move more quickly and leave less to pure luck.