Burn Your Resume, Build a Resume Portfolio

By Don Straits, Corporate Warriors

You might want to consider burning your resume, but that might be a little extreme. You could set your house on fire! But I do want you to stop thinking in terms of the traditional one- or two-page resume. I know virtually every book on resume writing and almost every career counselor and recruiter across the country will tell you to write the traditional one- or two-page resume.

Corporations and recruiters are flooded with thousands of resumes. For all practical purposes, they look alike. Don't be afraid to break out of the traditional resume box. In a competitive job market, you must find a way to differentiate yourself in order to generate interviews. To achieve that end, I encourage you to build a powerful resume portfolio.

The portfolio is focused on the individual's expertise and ability to make a bottom-line contribution to the organization. It requires extensive preparation with many long, hard hours of work. The end result will be an extraordinary set of marketing credentials. Typically, these credentials will run six to ten pages in length.

Initial reaction by some to this approach is that HR people won't read it because it is too long. This is true; it is likely that HR people won't read it. This extraordinary credentials package will not be directed to the HR department. Rather, it will be presented to the key decision-maker-typically the president, vice-president, department head, or person most likely to be your boss. If the organization has a need for someone with your expertise (notice I said expertise, not experience), he/she will read every word. The use of this approach by thousands of CorporateWarriors clients has demonstrated that it generates interviews at a rate far greater than any other approach.

The exact content of the portfolio will vary for each individual. Links to samples are provided at the end of this article. Descriptions of the most common elements are as follows (NOTE: it is not necessary that every item listed here be included. This list is to serve as an idea generator.): The Resume: A two- or three-page in-depth review of positions, responsibilities, accomplishments, education, professional development, professional affiliations and community service. The focus should be on key accomplishments. Quantify the results if possible. At the very least, provide good qualitative results. Most importantly, where possible include a visual. Yes, that's right-you heard me. The visuals may include graphs, tables or charts. People are visually motivated. Powerful visuals are used to stimulate the buyer for every product or service nationwide. Why shouldn't you do the same thing to generate an interview?

Accomplishment Summaries:

One-page summaries of key accomplishments you have achieved throughout your career (one summary per page). These summaries should include a powerful descriptive title, a brief description of the problem or situation, a bulleted list of your actions, and a two- or three-sentence quantitative/qualitative summary of the results. You should develop at least ten of these summaries for use in different situations, but you will typically include three to five summaries in each portfolio.

Project List:

This option is perfect for engineers, programmers, consultants or anyone whose career centers around projects. List all the major projects in which you played a key role. The list should be confined to one page. Each item typically will be limited to one or two sentences.

Field Research Summary:

This document demonstrates to the reader your intense interest in their company and industry. It may include a summary of interviews with customers, distributors, association executives, or employees. For business development people, a review of the competitive marketplace is very effective. This document may also contain data on field surveys you conduct.

Independent Study Summary:

This is an excellent document for people doing dramatic career transitions. It can demonstrate your knowledge and insight into industry key issues, emerging technologies, and products-even though you may not have experience in the industry. Generally this document will contain a summary of the information plus a bibliography supporting your conclusions.

Synopsis of Patented, Copyrighted or Authored Material:

Examples include: A one-page review of a patent, including application and benefit. A summary of a software program you designed including application and benefit. A synopsis of a book or article you published (if the article is not too long, include a copy if the information is relevant to the position for which you are applying).

Summary of Industry or Position Insights:

This can be the most important document you create. In one page, using a bulleted or narrative form, present the key issues relevant to the position or industry you would address if you were in that position. This document demonstrates your insight, industry/position intelligence, initiative, and proactive thinking. It is rare that any individual will take the time and effort to create this document, but when properly used, it typically results in a grand-slam home run for generating interviews!

To better understand the development of a portfolio, here are samples of different formats:

Online Multimedia Portfolio. Placing your portfolio into a Web format is extraordinarily powerful. It demonstrates that you are current and contemporary. The visual impact is striking. You can use photos, sound bytes, and even streaming video introductions. While we don't recommend including a photo in a paper portfolio, visuals are expected in websites. It generates a "WOW" every time. It will knock their socks off! To get it in front of the decision maker, just send him/her a short email cover letter with a link to your portfolio. Click to view a sample: www.corporatewarriors.com/jdoevideo. NOTE: From a legal standpoint, companies cannot request a photograph, but it is legal to voluntarily submit one.

MSWord Portfolio Resume. These portfolios are great as an attachment to an email. However, an even more powerful strategy is old fashioned "snail mail." Print out your portfolio in color. Place it into a presentation folder with the cover letter and resume on one side, supporting documents on the other side. Include a business card in the card slot. Snail mail it direct to the decision maker. To view an MSWord version, go to: www.corporatewarriors.com/sample.doc.

Text Only Resume. When posting your resume on CareerBuilder, it must be in a text-only format. We recommend you only post the resume portion of your portfolio to the search engine. To view a sample text-only version, go to: www.corporatewarriors.com/sample.txt.

A well-written resume portfolio represents a powerful, out-of-the-box alternative to traditional resume strategy. When targeted to decision makers who seek credibility from candidates, it can often open elusive doors of opportunity. Leaders go where others fear to tread. Go ahead and "break the rules" with a resume portfolio. You will be glad you did.

Don Straits, CEO and Dragon Slayer, Corporate Warriors

Don is recognized as a nationwide authority on contemporary job search strategies and technologies. His organization provides coaching and resume portfolio development to executives from coast to coast. More information can be found at www.corporatewarriors.com. He can be contacted at don@corporatewarriors.com.

© Copyright 2003 Don Straits. All rights reserved. This information is strictly for personal use. Any other use of this material is prohibited by law unless permission is otherwise granted in writing by the copyright holder.