Power resume!

Power resume!

When you put your resume in front of an employer, you are the product.

Six seconds! That's how long-according to a study released by The Ladders - an online job matching service - that recruiters spend reviewing an individual resume. In spite of that, far too many job seekers reflect a naive belief that each and every word will be read by a rational reader.

Rational readers are marked by receptive hearts, detached egos and lots of free time. They are rarer than unicorns. I certainly have never met one.

Whether your resume is scanned for six or sixteen seconds, you've got precious time to make an impression. Power resumes that work are effective because, as marketing brochures, they spark an interest in a particular product - you!

But let's first back up a bit and ask: What is the objective of a resume? If you answered ‘to get a job', go back to the back of the class. A resume has one single goal: to get an interview.

Once you're in the door, you get to fill in the dots, tout your experience and tell (some) of your life story. But you have to get invited in first. That's what a Power Resume does.

Start with a Summary

So let's start our Power Resume by getting rid of an obsolete technique: the "Objective Statement." An objective states what you want and not what the employer needs. Your objectives or aspirations are only of interest to the hiring authority to the extent they correspond with what they're looking for.

Summaries work better than objectives because they emphasize what you offer, not what you want. Focused summaries describe what you did, the skill set you used doing it, and the results you obtained. It immediately addresses an employer's needs and this gets their attention.

Let's take a look Here's one summary style I find particularly effective.

Teaching & Classroom Management

Extensive background in education and academic environments. Experienced in public school teaching, training, art instruction, special education and institutional management. Special Strengths:

This summary starts off with a title-targeted to the specific job opening-and a brief background statement of the types of experience you've had. No specifics yet; that will come.

Talk Skills

Right underneath this are listed eight key skills (put into two columns is a good presentation format) that are applicable to the position. Why skills? Because skills are expertise. They're transferable and they give the best prediction of your future performance to a hiring authority. Here a couple of examples:

Designing Lesson Plans
Formulating Learning Outcomes
Confidence Building

All purchase decisions involve risk. The hiring authority will be "buying you" in offering you a job. You want to reduce any perceived risk they may see.

A skills-based approach is a great technique when you're using experience from other industries to break into a new field...like English teaching.

The next summary section summarizes results. Please note that we rarely use complete sentences in resumes. This is not a book. No one is going to read every word. Use phrases and bullet points to make more impact. The mind...perceives info...and data...better...in fragments. Something like this:

Established record of consistent student progress...obtained consistent positive teacher observations. Achieved academic goals...built lasting relationships...with students, faculty and parents.

Finally below this, the employers will see that you have a degree (if you do) and that you're qualified to teach English as a foreign language, i.e. you have a TEFL certification. Something like this:

BS - Biology TEFL Certification

Again, the details and dates will be shown at the end of the Power Resume. Don't overload the summary. You simply want the employer to see your relevant background, teaching skills, results, the degree, and your TEFL certification.

Check, check and check...6 to 10 seconds. Congratulations. You've survived. You've just been delegated to the second round-the short-list file.

Think of all this in terms of a jous, where your resume is a battleground for a ritual skirmish. If you stay on your horse through the first scan, you get to the second round - an attentive reading. Survive all this, and you get to go to the castle and meet the princess.

The Experience Section

Welcome to round two. Here you list your previous positions, the organizations you worked for, where they are and dates you were with them on one line. Just below, on the second line, tell something about that organization. Typically the employer will not know about the place you worked before.

Here's a couple of examples:

Customer Care Manager, Hilton Worldwide, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2014-2016
Hilton hotels is the largest hotel in the world with hundreds of locations on six continents

Songwriting/Guitar Teacher, Pobal Music School, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2013 - 2016
Pobal supports communities towards achieving social inclusion, reconciliation and equality.

Do you know about Pobal? I didn't. I'm guessing many readers will be like me. You can use any organization's website, Facebook page or their Wikipedia entry to get a great one line description of who they are.

Organization's names are brands. They matter. Use them.

Working at McFly's Software Heaven is not the same as working at Microsoft. Look at how we treated Hilton Hotels above. Such references can make an enormous difference in how you're perceived and the quality of your achievements. If your organization is more unknown, link to its website to give it greater credibility.

The complete entry for this experience point could look like this:

Songwriting/Guitar Teacher, Pobal Music School, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2013 - 2016
Pobal supports communities towards achieving social inclusion, reconciliation and equality.
Taught songwriting and guitar to promote the use of Irish language through music. Student enrollment levels increased in second year.

This guy is trying to land his first teaching job after completing his TEFL certification. If you were hiring an English teacher, do you see any transferable skills? Hmmm...he's used music to promote a language. Hmmm...he's taught both songwriting and a musical instrument. Are you starting to see something relevant here?

One more thing about experience. It's not just the things you got paid for. Volunteer experience can also be highly relevant. How many new teachers list their "practicum' portion of the TEFL training on their resume? They should!

Talk Results

This candidate taught at Pobal and enrollments levels increased. Do I smell the scent of success? He's put the results in bold typeface. People that have success somewhere tend to repeat it elsewhere. This employer's buyer risk is decreasing.

Numbers talk in ways words can't. They are quantitative and they show magnitude of achievement. So a teacher's resume could note that students' test scores went up 22%. When results can't be quantified, qualify them, like this: "built relationships with parents." Since parents are the real customers at most any school, most would-be teachers might want to find a way to include success bullets about them.

No Laundry Lists

Far too many resumes are just a list of what-they-did. For every action there's a reaction, so tell us what happened? If there are no results for a least some of your actions, you don't have a Power Resume.

When you detail your experience, use power verbs to strike a blow for action and achievement: Manage. Execute. Analyze. Create. Organize. Let the other wimp be the one who "aided," "participated in" or "helped bring about."

Most resume writers know that self-marketing resumes should not exceed two pages. Many, however, take this limit as an excuse to load up those two pages like a rush hour train. Using the first person, they try to cram in a detailed personal history, replete with pronouns, adjectives, and dependent clauses.

Please, don't do that. And you don't have to list every-single-thing-you've-ever-done. If you have a college degree, no one wants to know that you've survived the sixth grade. While you'll need to fill in any obvious gaps, your experience should be like the rest of this document: targeted. Keep it focused on that new teaching position you're dreaming of.


Finally the third and final section has the bio-data details. It's at the end for a reason. Your summary had to get the employer's attention in six seconds. Now that you've survived that first cut, and are now in the "re-read more carefully" phase, your bio-data details backs up the skills in summary and the results in your Experience section.

Here, in this final section, you're going to put details to your qualifications.

Pesky Personal Data

I tend to think anything that can be used to eliminate you as a job candidate should be excluded from a resume. Remember: our single objective is to get an interview. Anything that you believe would result in you getting screened out, should probably be left off.

Having said that, in consideration of Thai traditions, you can see how we put those pesky personal details for one candidate.

Age: xxx
Sex: Gender
Nationality: Country
Marital status: Single

As to having a photo, you can simply embed one next to your name at that top. But please...have one that makes you look professional. Look like you're arriving for your first day of work. After all, this is a brochure about you.

Now it's Your Turn

Ready to put pen to paper? This is pretty easy to understand, but not so easy to do.

However, once completed, think of your new Power Resume as the master template. Then you can make new Power Resume hybrids with new titles and specific skills-targeting a specific job.

Want to see a sample?

I realize all this may be a bit difficult to visualize. Seeing a real example will make it all come together.

Just email us and we'll send you a copy. Put "Power Resume" in the subject line.

Kevin Cullen is the Jobs Coach at Vantage TEFL Certification. His Power Resume has helped take him into diverse roles as a teacher, an oil executive, a corporate banker and a business owner.


Great suggestions, Kevin, on what should be included on a power resume! Your article already has me thinking about the changes that I need to make on my resume to be able to compete for a position next time I'm in the market. Thanks for your powerful insight!

By Mike, Phuket (10th May 2017)

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