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After years of very high unemployment, things appear to be turning around. But how can you focus your job hunt message to ensure you're one of the next 100,000 people to be hired? Your job as a job hunter is to make it easy for people to understand how you can add value to the company that hires you. Everything about your resume, networking, and interviewing should be designed to strategically further this fundamental message.

How To Focus Your Job Hunt Message

Here are two of the most common examples of off-track messaging and how to fix them:

Situation #1

You are between 45-65 years old, and your cover letter begins like this: “… I’ve got 25 years of experience doing XXX in YYY industry.” You get rejected, and fear that it is due to age discrimination. In reality, that might be the case, but by the way you project your own case you give the underlying message that you are an older worker. Remember you aren’t selling decades of experience. Rather, you are selling the knowledge, skills, and abilities which you happened to attain during your years of experience.

The Fix:

Lead with something like, “In my most recent position as XXX, I provided value for my company by…” Then give a brief story that conveys a situation, how you took control of it/dealt with it, and the glowing results that you accomplished. Sell the story of your experience – not the length of it.

Situation #2

Point after point in your resume begins with the words, “Responsible for…” or something else that describes your prior job description. Such language fails to give any positive message. It doesn’t say anything about what you actually did, how you think, how you interact with others, or the results you produced. Worse, you simply position yourself as one of countless others who have had similar roles and responsibilities.

The Fix:

Make each point in your resume is about something you actually did, and briefly tell the story providing three basic elements: a) The situation or problem; b) your actions; and c) the success/results you achieved. Wherever possible quantify your results in terms of increased sales, decreased costs, reduced liability, potential savings, or increased productivity.


Sales people have the ultimate quantifiable results. The numbers speak for themselves, but they speak even louder when you tell a story about how you achieved your numbers like this:
  • Uncovered and exploited opportunities to increase revenue from new and existing accounts, and rekindled dormant relationships, resulting in year-to-year sales increases of 16-18%.
Of course, not everyone has a job whose results are measured in dollars. Still, you can tell a story and give a “soft” result like this:
  • Achieved customer satisfaction for engineers involved with new product development by organizing seminars on emerging technologies.
Remember this: You have the ability to fashion the impression people will have of you. The words you chose can tell important stories, and convey purposeful messages. One of my greatest joys as a career coach is working with my clients to frame the messaging that builds the case for them to be hired. What’s your story? What’s your message?

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