I’ve been helping people fulfill their working potential and achieve success throughout a long career in advertising. I’ve worked with thousands of people and with hundreds of different types of employers, and I’ve learned through experience how to coach and train all kinds of people in career management. And nothing gives me greater satisfaction than being here at Home Office Careers, helping people benefit from the growing trend among employers who are hiring more employees to work from home.
So let’s get started with today’s subject: What can advertising teach you about how to create a more effective resume? This will make sense once you realize that your resume is really an “advertisement for you.” Advertising is all about persuasive communications, so let’s treat your resume in that context, as an advertisement that would impress Madison Avenue, and that would be proud of.
First, I want to make sure you understand the importance of having a good resume – because it’s something you will definitely need as a work from home job seeker. A resume is a summary of your relevant education and work experience and you should see it as a demonstration of your potential for work-from-home positions.
You probably already know about resumes, or CVs as they are called internationally. Most online job applications will request that you attach your resume to the job application, or in some cases, they’ll instruct you to copy and paste the text of the resume directly into the application. Either way, your resume is being requested because it’s the single best way an employer can make an evaluation of you, the job applicant.
Now, since the resume is going to help the employer learn about you to decide whether you are qualified for the job being offered, doesn’t it make sense to make sure that the resume is doing its absolute best to present your strengths and personal qualities? Even more to the point, don’t you want your resume to make the employer say “This person is perfect for the job?”
So if we agree that the resume has a big job to do for you, that brings us to the question: What can advertising teach you about how to create a more effective resume? As I just mentioned, your resume is really an “advertisement for you.” A good resume is key to landing a great work-from-home job, because the recruiter has to be “sold” that you are a viable and desirable candidate. That’s the job of the resume! In fact, since the employer probably will not be able to meet you in person, the resume has a big job to do in attracting interest in you, and in presenting your qualifications for the posted job. In other words, your resume has to persuasive, and persuasion is what advertising is all about.
I’ve spent over 40 years in advertising, and while most of the ads and commercials I helped develop was for products like Clairol Hair Color, Zest Soap, Borden’s Dairy, Iams Pet Foods, Revlon Beauty, Hershey Foods, Miller Beer and Schweppes Tonic, the principles of “what sells” a brand carries over easily to the challenge of “How to present a job candidate in the most favorable way.” So here are 5 principles from advertising that can become your 5 secrets to a powerful and persuasive work-from-home resume.
Advertising Principle Number 1: Impact
Impact is the immediacy of making an impression that stimulates interest – in this case, interest in you. You may have heard the expression “Elevator Pitch,” which refers to the few seconds you might have with someone in an elevator to sell an idea – or sell yourself. The term “Elevator Pitch” was originally used to describe someone with an idea for a movie script who gets on an elevator with a move producer or director, and is trying to sell the movie idea to the producer in those few second before he or she exits the elevator. You may not be in the movie business in Hollywood, but the same principle applies to the “quick pitch” of a resume. The employer whose job application you have submitted may be seeing hundreds of resumes, so how long do think the recruiter is going to spend with your resume? You may have spent hours or days writing it, but if your resume does not instantly get the reader’s attention, it goes to the “Not Interested” file.
You’ll know what I’m referring to because you have probably had the same experience with a billboard on the street or a magazine ad. How long do you look at it or read it if it isn’t immediately of interest to you?
So let’s apply the principle of impact to your resume. Imagine the first section, Job Objective, which is the first part of the resume, are all the reader may read. What can you say in 1 to 2 sentences that will be the “showstopper,” to encourage the employer to keep reading, to get to know you better? I recommend using this short paragraph; right at the top to summarizes your best qualities and experience. It will take some discipline for you to say this briefly, but, just as in advertising, less is more when it comes to grabbing someone’s attention.
Advertising Principle Number 2: Distinction
Distinction means setting you apart from other job applicants. In advertising we call it a USP, a Unique Selling Proposition that helps a brand distinguish itself from competitors. I once worked with Zest, a Procter & Gamble bath soap that is the only soap that lathers in hard water. A cereal brand might have its USP as being all whole-grain and organic, or a new laptop computer may offer a longer lasting battery and faster start-up speeds. The point is that advertising is persuasive when it gives the potential user something to think about, something that says, “wow, that’s different, that’s better!”
So now for your resume, that leads us to ask, “what’s your USP? What makes you distinctive? What sets you apart in a positive way?” Take some time to think through this when you’re working on your resume. Do you tend to come up with original ideas? Did you fix something that no one else could? Did you reach a goal, or even better, did you exceed a goal? – this is especially important if you work in sales. If you want to find work in Customer Service or Customer Support, what have you done that makes it clear that you are good with people? Maybe you are bilingual – you speak a 2nd language; that’s not something everyone can do. Or, maybe you are a good writer and can demonstrate creative skills. So test your resume by asking this question: Does my resume make me seem distinctive, unique, not like everyone else?
Advertising Principle Number 3: Problem-Solving.
Effective ads and commercials do more than just get your attention and tell you about a product or service. They solve a problem that the potential purchaser has. For example, someone with a large family will be impressed if a car advertisement demonstrates its extra-large passenger capacity, or for someone who hauls a lot of stuff, a larger trunk may be the solution to his or her problem. Most of the personal care products you see advertised are focused on the problems they solve – wrinkles, spots, frizzy hair, blemishes – and then after showing the problem, they present their solution in a convincing way.
You resume needs to do the same thing; it has to solve a problem for the employer. If you think about it, every employer who is recruiting employees has a problem – that’s why they need to hire someone! Say the company or organization needs help with Data Entry or Transcription? If you have experience that makes it immediately clear that you can take that Data Entry or Transcription problem away from the employers, you will be interesting to that recruiter. Imagine you want to find a work-from-home job in Healthcare –and an employer needs someone with your experience to solve the problem of “Who is going to handle our medical records,” for example. By the way, we have hundreds of Healthcare job offers here at Home Office Careers. As long as you are showing your competency and capabilities, your resume can provoke that “Aha moment” when the employer sees you as the solution to his or her problem. Ask yourself, “Could my resume make an employer say, “How quickly can you start?”
Advertising Principles Number 4 & 5: Benefits & Supports
These last 2 principles go together, because to be persuasive, advertising has to do more than the first 3 principles. It has to be more than impactful, more than making you unique and more than solving problems. It has to be convincing, and advertising can be convincing by making a “promise” of certain benefits that the brand will provide, and then providing the supportive “proofs” that the promised benefits are believable. Let’s pause for a moment to think about some examples, so you can understand what I mean.
Your toothpaste advertises that it prevents cavities; okay, that’s a benefit; it’s a tangible, important benefit because just about everyone wants to prevent cavities. But then the advertising then goes on to assure you that it contains a high level of fluoride – that is the supportive point that helps reassure you that the benefit is real, they’re not just making it up. Here’s another example: An advertisement for pet food tells you that the brand is preferred by more pets – that’s an important benefit because pet owners want to be assured that their cat or dog is eating enthusiastically – no pet owner is happy when their little friend walks away from a bowl full of freshly served food.. But to make that claim believable, the advertising goes on to illustrate that the pet food contains fresh fish or fresh meat and fresh vegetables – these are the supportive points that reassure the viewer that yes, you pet will really appreciate this brand.
Okay, then how do the principles of advertising benefits and supports apply to your resume as a seeker of a work from home job? Remember at the beginning I told you about that important first little paragraph that sums you up in a few seconds? What will come next are the two other most important sections, Experience and Accomplishments.
Let’s think first about your benefits. These will go into the Experience part of your resume. Let’s use Customer Support as an example. Say you have handled complaints for a retail store and you list that under Experience, with the name of the store and some specifics about what the job required. That type of experience is easily recognizable and will “raise the eyebrows” of an employer who hopes to find someone who has the skills to manage customers who may be upset or angry. So the employer is definitely interested in you, but now the employer wonders how good you were at that job?
The answer comes in the next section of your resume, the Accomplishments. In our little example, here is where you would tell how you handled 20 customers a day and received letters of appreciation for your polite and effective handling of their situation. Or it might be that you were able to discourage customers from returning merchandise.
Okay, Let’s Wrap Up
I know I’ve covered a lot of information, but as long as you think of your resume as “an advertisement for you,” and make sure it:
Then your resume can become persuasive and effective in getting you the work from home job you want.
After you have completed the essential Job Objective, Experience and Accomplishments sections, be sure to complete the Education section, and the Special Skill section – this last section is optional but try to think of things you do or have learned that an employer may appreciate – something more to distinguish you from all others!
Resume Builder Is Ready For You
Every member of Home Office Careers has full access to our Resume Builder service, with templates for 30 different career categories. Download a template, follow the Resume Template Instructions provided, and keep these advertising principles in mind. Remember, you have just seconds to catch an employer’s attention. So try to limit your resume to one-two pages in length and make sure every line counts.
Do you have questions about your resume, or suggestions you would like to share with the members of Home Office Careers? We’d like to hear from you, so add your comments below.