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Tailoring Your Resume for Creative & Marketing Jobs

As a creative professional, you know how important it is to develop a strong brand image for a product. It’s what you do all day long. But when applying for jobs, are you doing the same to sell yourself? Successful job candidates tailor their resume and cover letters to highlight pertinent experience and skills, even down to the keywords used in the job description.

Step One: What Work Do You Want?

But before you begin reworking your resume, spend the time to define the work you want to do and how and where you want to do it. What work have you enjoyed the most? What would you like to learn? What size company and in which industries? How many hours per week? Remote or on-site? Scan job openings and just pluck out phrases and bullet points that excite you. Look past the job title for the moment, or the rest of the job description. Just focus on the job duties that interest you. After doing this research, you’ll probably start to notice job openings that include more of these responsibilities. Jot down the job titles of these interesting positions.

Step Two: Tailor Your Resume

Next, parse your skills into three or four buckets. What job titles would fit these skill sets? (Keep in mind the research you just did into interesting positions.) As an example, if you’re a writer, some typical job titles might be content marketer, reporter, storyteller, technical writer and others, depending on the industry. Define the job titles that both fit your skills and experience and that interest you. Now it’s time to create multiple resumes, each tailored to the area you want to pursue.

Let’s say you’re a financial writer, but you also do digital copywriting. You’ve worked across a lot of industries. You do finance, healthcare, tech. You’ve even done nonprofit work. Depending on your focus, you can develop different resumes for different roles or even industry specific. Even a resume for a full-time role is different than for a contract or freelance job. The key is to speak directly to the hiring company, using language that mirrors the skills and experience that they want. Different employers can give the same role different titles. This is where your staffing firm can really help. They know the current buzzwords and what’s hot in the marketplace, the language that employers are using.

The end goal is to have several resumes, each focused on a particular job title, industry or position, ready to go at your fingertips. I’ll use myself as an example. I call myself a recruiter, but I’m also a career coach, a mentor and a social media guru. But the title of recruiter doesn’t express those skill sets. So, it’s all about the story that you tell in each resume and making sure the story lines up with the job that you’re applying to. And taking those extra steps to edit it and have those resumes ready to go.

One side note. Make sure your LinkedIn profile and resume(s) match! For instance, job start/end dates, job titles and descriptions. Employers and hiring managers will look at both. If there are discrepancies, it’s a big red flag.

Step Three: Review Your Experience

If you’ve been in the workplace more than a few years, you’ve likely accrued a variety of experience – in different industries, types of software, products, creative, as well as full-time and gig work, etc. Take some time to review all the work you have done down to every last detail. It won’t all go into your resume or LinkedIn profile, of course, but you want it at your fingertips.

Gather samples in a Dropbox file or a Google drive link to match your different skill areas. Sometimes the client wants retail experience and email designs. Well, not all designers think that’s sexy so they might not put it into their resume. I have a product designer job where they want SaaS experience, and that’s pretty niche. I have a grocery store that wants a loyalty manager. That’s niche. Somebody might have that, but maybe they didn’t add it to the resume, or it was a freelance engagement. So, know what you’ve done and keep it handy to show employers that you have what they’re looking for.

Step Four: Work with Your Recruiter

One of the many benefits of working with a staffing firm is that they know what’s going on in the marketplace – and things in the creative market are crazy right now. There are more jobs than candidates, which is great for you. But employers want the right people, right away. They’re also asking for very specific, niche skills. It used to be, “Send us a couple of marketing candidates.” Now it’s, “We need people that can design for mobile, tablet and web. And we want to see their iOS and their Android designs and their user flows and their wire frames.” Or they want experience in a specific industry (e.g., luxury fashion) or software. So, if the employer doesn’t see this experience in the resume or samples, they’ll pass.

As the recruiter, however, we can bring these key items to their attention. We know the most current keywords and can help reinterpret your resume. Maybe you have the skills but need to do some rewrites. The bottom line is that the recruiter needs the candidate to do the work ahead of time so that the resume is ready, already customized to the job and industry. In this fast-paced market, we need to get the resume to the employer as soon as possible. A couple of days delay could mean the difference between getting the interview or being passed over.

With this tailored resume in hand, and some selling points from you, a staffing company can pitch you to an employer, focusing on the experience and skills they want. For instance, what are the two or three bullet points that make you a best match? Sometimes that’s not on your resume and we can’t articulate how you’ve done that at another company the way you can.

In the end, it’s all about the story that you want to tell and your brand. Working together, we can craft the best presentation, so that when we send your resume to the employer, you’ve got the interview.

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