Help, I’m trapped in a nut shell!

Published on May 23, 2023 by Matt Bud, The FENG
Interviewing Resume Writing Standing Out From the Crowd

There is no greater challenge in this world than summing yourself up in 90 seconds or writing a proper summary for your resume.

As many of you know, I was CFO of an advertising agency in the 1980’s. Initially, I used to wonder why the creative folks got paid so well. As I got more and more into who we were and what we did, it became a little more obvious how difficult it was to create the essence of a product or service in a 30 second commercial or in a print ad.

Here you are a product and/or service with 20+ years of work experience. There are so many delightful aspects to who you are and what you do that you honestly don’t know where to begin. What is it your “audience” is looking for? Do they want to know that you were “born at an early age?” More than likely, beginning at the VERY beginning is not going to leave you much time to explain your most important features/product benefits that have occurred in the most recent 10 years.

If you start your thinking with the idea that “This is you in a nutshell,” you will be well on your way to structuring your thinking about the limited amount of time or space you have available to explain the unexplainable.

I tend to think of myself as an advertising and publishing guy. I do have some retailing experience, but it was very early in my career and I only did it for 2 years. What I want to accomplish in my 90-second announcement is to give those listening a sense of who I am and how I perform my magic.

And don’t kid yourself or be modest. All of you as members of The FENG have accumulated great talents and skill sets that those out in the world who have problems are willing to pay good money to acquire. All you have to do is think like your customer.

The problem we all face as we begin our job search process for the first time is that we typically have had very little need to “explain ourselves.” Members of other professions who traditionally don’t have such long service with their early firms are quite practiced at selling their services.

An art director I knew in my mid-40’s once told me that he had worked at 25 different agencies, some of them twice. If you are an art director, your bags are always packed. I guess even when you are working you tend to work out of a suitcase.

So, as you begin writing your 90-second announcement and the summary for the top of your resume, know that it is a difficult and challenging task. And, one you need to work and rework.

To sum up your working career in a way that won’t leave you “trapped in a nutshell” isn’t easy.

Some suggested approaches include eliminating all trite phrases such as team player, bottom line oriented, innovative, etc. Actions speak louder than words, but in spoken terms, specifics about what you do speak louder than trite phrases. “10 years of International experience” says a lot about you. So do descriptions of the range of firms you have worked for such as public and private firms.

What you hope to achieve is to create a context that others can use to digest the information to follow.

Tell me what you want to tell me then tell me. In this way, even I will be able to remember it and pass you on to the right people.

Regards, Matt