Improve Your Resume By Thinking Like A Marketer

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Clients often feel overwhelmed when it comes to writing a resume or cover letter. They don’t know where to begin or what to include. This part of the job search is one of the first steps, but it can also be the most difficult. 

I’d like to provide a framework that could help you start to see your job search efforts differently. It is a job search strategy that I use when writing resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn bios.

The next time you apply for a position try this. 

Approach your job search as if you were marketing a product, because you are – YOU!

What does that mean? It means you want to think about and include only the things that truly highlight your skills and experience. What will “sell” you to an employer?

When marketers think about marketing their products, they have to ask themselves a few questions:

  • What problem does this product solve for people?
  • What sets it apart? How is it unique?
  • What are the benefits or features of the product?
  • What proof can we offer that the product works?

You want to ask yourself the same questions about how your experience relates to the position you are seeking.

And just as marketers must identify their “target audience” or ideal customer, you need to identify the ways your skills are a perfect fit for the role–and then illustrate that for an employer. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into what this looks like.

Tailor Your Resume To Align With The Job Posting

Sally is currently a teacher in a public school. She has found a job she would like in a local nonprofit organization. The role is a community educator that represents the organization in the local community by making presentations at community events, local clubs, schools and libraries. 

Her work experience is as follows:

4th Grade Science Teacher, Red Lion Elementary School, (2010 – present)
4th Grade Math Teacher, Johnstown Elementary School, (2001 – 2010)
Retail Supervisor, Brown’s Department Store (1999 – 2001)

What should she include on her resume? Most experts say you only need to go back 10 years. However, in her case I’d list both teaching jobs for two reasons:

  1. It shows she has a long job history at each.
  2. It shows she has been teaching (aka presenting information) for many years.

Let’s take a look at the job posting Sally found. (Note organization names and locations have been removed.)

Position Summary

ABC’s Cooking Program is a project in partnership with ProgramX, a national anti-hunger organization. The project is a community-based education program which teaches healthy cooking, nutrition, and food budgeting. This position is the primary educator for adults and families for the Community Food Education (CFE) program of ABC Organization, leading classes, workshops, and events designed to strengthen communities’ ability to navigate their food environments.

Classes: Facilitate cooking/nutrition classes, workshop and events with adults and families using the assigned curriculum at community sites in the local area. Support youth and farm-based education as needed.

Planning: Perform administrative work to support classes – order class materials, groceries, class dishes, administer survey assessments, enter and track data, complete reports in a timely manner.

Community Involvement: Support partner sites in ongoing health and wellness through participant-led activities including cooking clubs, wellness clubs, cooking demonstrations, etc.

Collaboration: Coordinate with volunteers in delivering class lesson materials in alignment with the organization’s anti-racism approach.

Teamwork: Participate in program, department, and agency meetings, as well as anti-racism work.

If we were to identify the employer’s needs, our list would look like this:

Employer’s NeedSkills Required
Teach healthy cooking, nutrition and food budgeting– Public speaking
– Teaching
– Presenting Information well
– An understanding of nutrition (or willingness to learn)
Lead classes, workshops and events using the assigned curriculum– Implement a standardized curriculum
– Facilitate learning in a group environment
– Classroom management
Perform administrative work– Order groceries and other materials
– Administer surveys
Support partner sites in activities like cooking clubs, wellness clubs, and cooking demonstrations
– Track data and complete reports
– Facilitate club meetings
– Assist or lead cooking demonstrations
Use the organization’s anti-racism approach– Understand and implement the organization’s communication and teaching methods

How does Sally’s experience match up?

At first glance, she felt like it wasn’t a match at all. She loves to cook, but has never cooked professionally or taught cooking. She has only taught children, not adults. 

But Sally is overlooking the fact that at its core, this role is about presenting information and fostering learning. That’s what she has been doing for her whole career! Yes, she has been teaching children about subjects other than food, but the core skills are the same.

What I haven’t told you is that Sally not only loves to cook, she does it all the time. She has won several awards in local cooking contests, and she recently launched a cooking YouTube channel as an outlet for her favorite hobby. 

While you usually should not list hobbies on a resume, this is an instance where her hobby is relevant to the job – so we are going to include it. 

How Do You Format Your Resume To Highlight Your Best Skills?

I suggest that your resume begin with a professional profile and a list of highlighted qualifications. You want to call attention to your best “features” right from the start!

This is what this looks like for Sally.

Sally Jones
Phone,  email, linkedin address

Experienced educator with a passion for food and helping others learn strategies to improve their lives.

Highlighted Qualifications:

  • Compassionate educator with 20 years of experience teaching in multiple settings.
  • Skilled relationship builder with proven ability to form bonds with both adults and children.
  • Award-winning cook who enjoys teaching others the value of good nutrition and budget-friendly meal planning.
  • Experience presenting lessons in person, on video, and through online platforms like Zoom. 

From there we move on to listing her work experience, highlighting the accomplishments that matter most:

Professional Experience:

4th Grade Science Teacher, Red Lion Elementary School, (2010 – present)

  • Taught an average of 30 students per class while adhering to local and state curriculum standards.
  • Founded a student science club that has grown in membership from10 students to 50 over the last five years.
  • Conducted hands-on workshops to help students prepare for annual science fair competition.
  • Awarded teacher of the year for school district in 2018.

4th Grade Math Teacher, Johnstown Elementary School, (2001 – 2010)

  • Created and presented lesson plans based on local and state curriculum standards.
  • Achieved highest passage rate (89%) in the region on state end-of-year assessments.
  • Coached teams of students to compete in annual math competition, winning first place at the state level for the last three years. 
  • Recruited to train new teachers on best practices for parent-teacher conferences because of a high number of good reviews from parents.

Related Experience:

YouTube Cooking Demonstrator, (2022 – present)

  • As a way to combine my passions for both teaching and cooking, started a YouTube channel that has grown to 1,000 subscribers over the last year.
  • Present on-camera cooking demonstrations and offer tips for healthy meal preparation.
  • Provide strategies for meal planning, altering recipes, and cooking on a budget. 
  • Engage with viewers through comments and polls to learn more about them and answer their questions.
  • Invited to provide a cooking demonstration for local Girls and Boys club which led to helping the organization form a student-led cooking club. 
  • Placed first three times in local cooking competition sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

Notice that we didn’t bother to include the retail job she had early in her career. We also listed quantifiable accomplishments under each teaching position. 

Obviously, there are more things she did in each role – taking attendance each day, serving on school committees, chaperoning after-school activities – but we chose to highlight the ones that would “sell” her experience the best FOR THIS POSITION. That’s important! If this were a corporate trainer position, we would write the resume slightly differently. You need to customize your resume for each position you apply to. 

Let’s go back to our marketing example. How would Sally’s answers look if we ran them through our set of marketing questions?

What problem does this product solve for people?

The employer needs someone who is good with both kids and adults, who can present information well, keep students engaged and wanting to learn, and who can also complete the administrative tasks involved in the job.

To demonstrate these abilities on Sally’s resume, we’ve highlighted her rapport with both students and parents. We’ve also highlighted her ability to teach classes or workshops and lead clubs–along with mentioning how her students have gone on to master the material and perform well in competitions.

What sets it apart? How is it unique?

While nutritionists or chefs may apply to this role, Sally has been an educator for 20 years. She is adept at following a standardized curriculum and finding ways to make it interesting for students. With a background in education, she understands the way people learn and digest information. Others may share her passion for cooking, but her extensive experience as an educator is something that sets her apart.

What are the benefits or features of the product?

We’ve mentioned that both the clubs or teams she started and the YouTube channel she began have grown quickly, which shows she is engaging. Others are attracted to her presentation style. 

What proof can we offer that the product works?

We’ve demonstrated Sally’s effectiveness by highlighting awards she has received (teacher of the year, cooking awards), as well as honors she has been given (good parent reviews and chosen to train others on parent-teacher conferences). I would also suggest that on her LinkedIn profile she seeks some reviews from parents and former students stating how much they like her teaching style. 

We will need to take this same approach when writing her cover letter, which we will cover in part 2 of this post.

The bottom line:
Your resume and cover letter are both marketing documents that should be designed to sell you to an employer for a specific position. Think carefully about what experiences and accomplishments will best present you as the ideal candidate.

Published by Career Coach Belinda

I’ve helped job seekers of all ages and career levels develop résumés, craft cover letters, and approach job interviews with confidence.

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