Resume Rules Have Changed

There are three crucial elements to a strong self-promotional packages: your self-promotional sales letter, your writing samples, and your resume.

Today, we're going to talk about your resume – how to write it effectively, and how to prepare it so you can send it to a potential client either by snail-mail or email.

Not long ago (maybe five years), no one was sending self-promotional packages by email. It just wasn't an option. But has that ever changed!

According to Freelance Work Exchange, only 4% of employers in 1999 said they preferred receiving resumes by email. In only one year, that number skyrocketed to 48%. And now, it approaches 80%.

But you should NOT send your resume to a potential client as an attachment. So this means you need to write a resume that's not only eye-catching, easy to read, and effective in selling you … but is also easily pasted into email as unformatted text. (Even if your software accepts formatted HTML text, you can't be sure your recipient's does. So use plain text regardless. Boldface, italics, underlining, centering, and color are lost during the cut-and-paste process.)

Here are a few tips from AWAI's Resume Writing Program to use when preparing your resume. (These are some of the same ideas AWAI recommends to students who are learning how to write resumes for other people as a profitable side business.)

While reading these ideas, never forget that a resume is an ad – a prospecting ad. Its purpose is to get your potential client's attention. So, to be effective, you must write it with the same mindset you have when you write an ad for a business.

  1. Remember "The Most Important Lesson in DM": KNOW YOUR PROSPECT .

    In this case, your prospects are probably marketing directors looking for someone to write a DM package that will get the most attention or bring in the most money.

    Your potential client wants to know what YOU can do for HIM.

    So put yourself in his shoes and think like him. Ask yourself what he wants, how you can give that to him, and how you can make yourself stand out and look unique.

  2. List articles or successful sales packages you've created. Don't forget to include pro bono (unpaid) work you've done. If you don't have anything yet, list successful AWAI assignments you've completed.

    If you're sending your resume by fax or snail-mail, you can include copies of some of them. If you're emailing it, include a brief sample of a package with a Web link to the complete piece.

  3. List any impressive education or training you've had (like the AWAI copywriting course). Include relevant things you've learned and any awards or special recognition you've received.
  4. List any additional recognition or awards you've received for marketing-related work. If, for instance, the local SPCA gave you an award recognizing the work you did to promote its annual fundraiser.
  5. Keep your job objective focused. If you want to write or design for a health or financial publication, say so. If you list too many different interests, you cannot be considered an expert in any of them.
  6. Use bullets to zero in on your accomplishments and achievements. Specific numbers and details like these will add to your credibility:

    • Increased XYZ company's sales by 53%
    • Authored 5 published articles in ABC magazine on hidden European hot spots
    • If you're snail-mail/faxing, it's OK to use the bulleted-list function of your word processor. But if you're sending the resume through email, don't do it. Instead use asterisks (*) and indent each bullet with your space bar (not a tab), as we did, above.
  7. Put your contact information (name, address, phone/fax/email numbers) at the top of the page. Center it if you're sending your resume via snail-mail or fax.
  8. List your most impressive or relevant accomplishments first.
  9. If you feel you don't have enough experience for an impressive resume, don't worry about it. Experience isn't a "must" to land a job. However, don't try to fill your resume with irrelevant items. Instead, structure it this way:
    • Objective
    • Summary of Experience
    • Accomplishments
    • Professional Background
    • Education
    • References
  10. Never, EVER put the following things in your resume:
    • salary expectations
    • personal data (age, sex, marital status, etc.)
    • cutesy gimmicks
    • your photo
    • reasons for leaving your previous job

Make two versions of your resume, one for snail-mail/fax, one for email. Use the formatting capabilities of your word processor for snail-mail/fax – BUT, still keep it simple and easy to read.

Format your emailed resume using plain text and saving it as a "text only" document. After you've saved your document as a text file, close it and then reopen it. Check to make sure that all the plain-text formatting you wanted – like asterisks for bullets (*) or indentations using the space bar – look right. Fix what doesn't. Resave the file (as text only). Then copy/paste it into the body of your email.

Next week, we're going to tackle what's probably the most important component of your self-promo package – the letter – when we talk with copywriter Michael Dongilli. Michael developed a sales letter after listening to Bob Bly's "Selling Yourself" online teleconferences that not only got him noticed … it landed him a very lucrative contract.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: September 27, 2004

1 Response to “Resume Rules Have Changed”

  1. All of this information is good for those of us who have not sought work (a.k.a. from a new employer) for a number of years. What I am wondering is how to present the same information on social medial sites, our websites, and LinkedIn. I understand that potential clients look to these sites when choosing copywriters and that these are essentially our business cards.

    Nora King


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