University of South Carolina :: Darla Moore School of Business   the Competitive Edge

by Ross Macpherson, President, Career Quest

  • Tip #1: Think strategically... not structurally.

    When creating your resume, you need to think strategically. The trap is people think structurally and think that filling in the blanks is what makes a resume and so they hope for the best.

    Here are questions to ponder on when thinking strategically:
    • Who am I trying to impress?
    • Who is my target audience?
    • What do they need to know about me most?
    • What do I have that is most relevant to their needs?
    • What is the most compelling way to present this?
    "What's the best, most effective, most compelling way I can show them what they need to see?"

  • Tip #2: Market your value to the company

    Be the candidate that offers the most value for their investment. Sell your education, experience and attributes. Clarify what you can specifically do for the company. Provide a track record. Sell the value and impact for the company instead of just listing stuff. Sell your value so that they can see that you can offer the best ROI

  • Tip #3: Keep it tight, concise and to the point

    Resumes must be concise. Put three lines max per bullet point. No large paragraphs.

  • Tip #4: Grab them on page one

    If you're going to provide a 2-page resume, page 1 must be spectacular. A common mistake is that all throughout page 1, the question of "What is this candidate offering?" is still not being answered. Remember page one is where you sell yourself, where you grab their attention which will compel them to read the rest of your resume. Make sure to grab them halfway down page one.

  • Tip #5: Open with a strong profile or summary

    Put a strong profile or summary after your name and before you get into the other sections like Experience or Education. What you want to accomplish is to really make your case. Say the things that they want to hear. Give them the breath of accountability, experience, track record, and highlight keywords. Brand yourself in this top profile section.

    So here's a screen capture of the top section of Vikram Khandari's resume. This is where I've built the profile. You'll notice that after the name, the first thing I want to draw your attention is where it says "STRATEGIC EXECUTIVE - HEALTHCARE" and then a few bullet points underneath that: Strategy Development, Business Development, Growth & Turnaround Strategies. This is what I call the headline.

    You will know exactly who is, what he specializes and what he can do.

    The rest of the profile we isolated 5 key areas that are relevant to what he really wants to market about himself.

    Ended the profile with a 3 column table of keywords and skillsets that are relevant to where he's trying to go. This is an introduction that clearly identifies what Vikram offers and then the rest of the resume will move in to his Experience and Education.

  • Tip #6: Showcase your MBA

    Leverage your MBA especially when you make a career move.

    Showcase your MBA 2-3x. Put it under "Education", after your name and in your profile.

  • Tip #7: Include the right keywords

    At some point guaranteed, your resume will end up in the database somewhere. Someone may do a keyword search for someone who has specific expertise like you. Find the keywords in job postings. Make sure to include the following in your resume: Qualifications, Skill sets, Buzzwords. The question now is where to include them?

    At the bottom of Vikram's profile, this is where I included the keywords. I made a point of showcasing the keywords in a 3-column table right at the bottom of the profile.

    The benefit of a table is it's quickly scannable and makes an impact. If you get the right keywords in there and showcase them properly and effectively, it really does work to your advantage.

  • Tip #8: Performance and results

    Remember that your resume content is performance and results more than your responsibilities.

    Briefly describe responsibilities. Highlight results.

  • Tip #9: Include measurable results

    If you can include measurable results or even some metric around the scope of your accountability, the numbers on the resume can make a huge difference. Use metrics that fit your role.


    ...increased by _%
    ...generated $ ___ revenue

    …streamlined process by _%
    …reduced costs by $--

    Human Resources
    …supported __ employees
    …across __ locations
    …with a $ __annual budget

    Remember: Numbers leap off the page!
    • Increased sales by 80% within 6 months.
    • Reduced order processing costs by $1.2 million.
    • Supported 6,500 employees across 4 countries and 128 locations.

    Wherever you can, include measurable details, metrics of some kind, and measurable results in your resume.

  • Tip #10: Make it look sharp, distinctive and professional

    How your resume looks can make an enormous difference. Make it look as polished, as professional, as distinctive as you. Make it stand out.

More Examples:

Here's the next section of Vikram's resume. Experience section - Instead of Experience, I called it Performance. Focused on performance. It's highlighted and bolded. Talk about performance and results.

Benedict's resume - highlight performance and impact. Include where this person made a difference.

What you really want to is to market yourself effectively. Make the resume your own and do something quite unique, showcase your value and you'll blow your competition out of the water.

Expert BIO
by Ross Macpherson, President, Career Quest

Ross Macpherson is the President of Career Quest, a Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Certified Online Identity Strategist, Certified Interview and Job Search Coach, and is recognized as one of the best resume writers in North America. With over 15 years experience in the career industry, he specializes in advanced strategies that help senior and executive professionals throughout the US, Canada, and internationally. His work has been featured in 18 career publications. Ross routinely speaks to MBA programs across North America, and is known for delivering powerful and entertaining sessions that teach real-world success strategies. He has also spoken at major career events, global industry conferences, professional associations, and executive networking groups across the U.S. and Canada, and his high-energy style has consistently put him at the top of the career management speaking circuit. Contact Ross at