Not unlike your 90-second announcement, the space at the top of your resume is vitally important to getting folks to “listen” to the rest of your story.
Try to visualize if you will, 200 resumes piled up on some poor screener’s desk. With any luck, they have been printed and collated correctly with the resume on top and email cover letter stapled behind. (Reference is usually made to cover letters only when there is interest in the candidate and there is an unanswered question on the resume.) With a strong cup of coffee (black, of course), the goal is to eliminate as many resumes as possible with what I call the “at a glance” test.
Simply stated, if you don’t tell me who you are and what you do, I am not likely to take the time to find out. If you think anyone in today’s world has time for “reading between the lines,” think again.
The primary cut for any job is 75% based on industry. If you have it, flaunt it. If you don’t have it, make it clear why potato chips are like computer chips. And, in the context of summing things up, make sure that EACH and EVERY company you have ever worked for has a one line summary of what they do. Birds of a feather DO flock together. (Of course, opposites attract, but that’s only when we discuss love, and we will have to save that story for another time.)
When it comes to networking contacts, think about the poor “mailroom clerk” who is trying to decide where to send your resume. Again, guessing isn’t my strong suit, and you can’t count on my imagination. (Let’s not forget I’m an Accountant and I’m not supposed to have one.)
While it is difficult to know exactly what to include in a good summary, it is easy to tell you what to avoid. All words of self-praise should be avoided. Team player, bottom line oriented, results oriented, successful, proven ability, effective communicator, accomplished, adept, motivational leader, honest, loyal, progressively responsible experience, forward thinking, proactive leader, are all good phrases to NOT use. In part, they are trite. I would also encourage you to consider “Matt’s law of opposites.” Team player – I don’t play well with others. Bottom line oriented – find me a CFO who isn’t. Proactive leader – I just let things happen and then I deal with them. I’ll let you have fun with the rest of these, but I hope you see my point.
I also suggest you avoid all lists. Usually there are 6-12 items. I have seen them typed like a pyramid. I have seen them in 3 columns. I have even seen an oval. They all look silly, and there are usually duplications and redundancies. (Different words with no real difference in meaning to the uniformed reader.) And, they always include a few ideas that need more than one line which really makes the formatting of them look silly. Clear writing in sentence form is always better than a list.
What to include? Like a good 90-second announcement, hit them with the facts. Treasury executive – good start. It stakes out your territory. Internationally experienced CFO for NYSE listed companies – another good start. Well versed in Sarbanes-Oxley and IFRS compliance – very specific. The world has a need for specialists, not generalists. Treasury experience includes capital structure, foreign exchange, commodities, and interest rate risk management – strong specifics, if they match the job.
To sum up, you have to go in “guns blazing,” or you won’t make the cut.