Use Your Strengths to Your Advantage

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Use Your Strengths to Your Advantage – Michelle was apologizing to me because she could not write her resume, “I feel so stupid. I don’t know what Recruiters and Hiring Managers are looking for, and I don’t know how to present it on a resume. It’s embarrassing.”

Michelle and I had just started our conversation around her personal branding strategy. The goal was to align her resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile with her spoken branding messaging. Michelle is a great communicator. In her late twenties, she was promoted into a Pharmaceutical sales support role and discovered she loved selling, especially selling products that impacted people’s lives. She was smart and successful. Michelle was embarrassed because she had paid for somebody to write her resume. As someone who communicates for a living, she “should” be able to write her own material.

“Well, when’s the last time you wrote a resume?”

In 20 years, Michelle had three positions. She had been promoted within her company and had accepted a position with another company offered to her through her network. She had not written a resume from the ground up since she graduated from college. She had updated her old resume to meet formal HR requirements. But now she wanted to shift her career to a new level. She was trying to move from drug sales to Healthcare software sales. In that role, Michelle would be selling to executive decision-makers within large healthcare organizations. She knew this would require a different kind of resume.

“Michelle, helping you refine your spoken branding message and capturing that message on paper is what I do. I’ve been a recruiter 25 years. Over that time, I have observed the ability of individuals to write their own resume steadily decline. About 15 years ago, 5% of the self-written resumes sent to me were written extremely well. That percentage over the years has gone down. This is not because people are less competent now. It is because job searching has changed. Fifteen years ago, having a good resume meant having a resume that would capture the attention of recruiters on job boards such as Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and CareerBuilder.”

“That dynamic has changed. Today resumes must capture the attention of Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and networking contacts. In the past, we wanted your resume to “pop out” in a database. Now we want your resume to speak to Recruiters and Hiring Managers. The market has shifted and continues to move away from applicant tracking systems. Yes, of course, all candidates must be in the applicant tracking system to be hired, but currently, applicant tracking systems are not working well.”

“Is selling something you enjoy?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Are you good at it?”

“Well, I think so.”

“Are you not the top salesperson in the Northeast on of the top salespeople in the company?” 

“Yes.” 

“So, selling is a strength. What about writing your resume? Is that a strength?”

“No, not at all.” (laughing)

“Would it serve you to reframe your feelings around having your resume written for you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Cater to your strengths, don’t focus on your weaknesses. You are a very successful salesperson. Keep selling. It’s a better use of your time and emotional energy.”


Use Your Strengths to Your Advantage