Marketing Yourself Requires a Future-Thinking Mindset

October 25, 2021

For more than three decades I’ve been reading marketing resumes- tens of thousands of them.  Many are excellent, many need to be totally re-written, and many are mediocre.

Many are mediocre because those candidates think their resume is actually better than it is. No surprise there because, after all, we’re talking about marketers. They are expert at marketing products and services so they should be pretty good at marketing themselves, right? Not necessarily. Marketing your own self requires a different mindset, and sometimes it is difficult for marketers to make that switch. 

Write to the Future

Most resumes I see rehash the past. They tell me what someone did. That’s OK, but that may not get you to where you want to go. Think about it: your resume needs to be written with an eye towards supporting your career goals. 

You’re a Director of Marketing who hopes to become a VP of Marketing someday. Your resume should paint a picture of a marketer who, although currently a Director, is qualified for a VP level opportunity. It should showcase your “VP-like” skills.

That may not be as hard as you think because chances are, as a Director, you are already taking on duties and responsibilities that apply to VP’s. As an example: VP’s think “bigger.”  They typically sit on committees comprised of the senior-most members of the executive team. They ask each other: What are you and your team doing to move the business forward?

Your resume could talk about outpacing industry trends, spearheading new domestic marketplace initiatives or meeting and exceeding certain business growth targets. Always remember this: Your future goals should help drive the resume writing process.

Use Headlines

I love it when I see a resume with a headline at the top (DtoC Ecommerce Leader, Transformational Marketing Leader, etc.) and then an executive summary underneath it. The headline tells me the kind of role you are seeking, which makes it easy for me to identify the resumes I should be paying the most attention to. If you’re looking for something different this saves both of us a lot of time. 

The executive summary tells me why you are qualified for such a position. In 20 seconds, I can tell from your headline and summary that you are someone I either need to know about, or your career goals and experience are simply not the right match. This top one-third of the first page of the resume is mission critical. Practically every word is read, and this helps the reader determine in a matter of seconds if you are a viable candidate.

Spend a lot of time polishing these two sections until they shine like a jewel. Be concise and avoid worn out phrases and terms that tell me nothing. Telling me you’re a “proven performer” says zero. As opposed to what, an “unproven performer”? Other terms to deep six are “team player”, “self-motivated”, “excellent communication skills”, I could give you two dozen more.

Information About the Company

Most resumes don’t include this, but when I see a listing for the Acme Company and I don’t know who the Acme Company is, it is nice to see a one-line summary of what they do, their geographic reach, number of employees, essentially a short 25-word one line description that you might see in the “About” paragraph on a press release. And by the way, you can customize this so that it aligns with your current objective.

If you like, reach out to me directly and I’m happy to review your resume and let you know what I think. 

Jerry Bernhart
Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC-Since 1990. 
Author, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon.
As seen on AdAdge, Bloomberg, Internet Retailer, Forrester, MarketingProfs, SeekingAlpha, Target, CMO Council, B2BNext, many more.