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3 Tips to Spice Up a Bland Resume

You wouldn't serve an unseasoned or under-cooked dinner to your house guests. So why send a bland resume to a hiring manager?

You wouldn’t serve an unseasoned or under-cooked dinner to your house guests. So why send a bland resume to a hiring manager?

Spice your resume up and give hiring managers a feast for their eyes with these three tips.

Admit you need help.

Many careerists consider the resume a check-box item requiring only a computer keyboard and a couple of hours. Then, whoosh, tick this task off your list and move onto more important matters. In fact, the idea of seeking out help – and actually embedding yourself into the process – may feel foreign, daunting and even unnecessary.

However, resorting to easy-bake recipes for your resume will result in unsophisticated results that are flat, tasteless and uninteresting to the hiring decision maker’s palate.

Research to unearth strategic tools.

To improve your resume, you will need to dive deeper than dumping a few leadership strengths, responsibilities and metrics into a Word template.

Consider: what word seasonings will you need to intensify the aroma of your message? What tools can you use to warm up the thought juices? For starters, you want to employ some sort of worksheet tool in which to brainstorm your focused career brain dump. Find one that helps draw out your challenge, action and results stories, as well as the takeaway strengths and learnings from those stories. How did what you accomplished in your recent, or past roles make you prepared for your next breakthrough opportunity? You must be specific, creating palpable stories that the hiring executive can not only see, but also feel.

The worksheet, used well, will help create a focused intensity about your message that elevates your story above the typical, buzzword-laden resume. The truth is most executive resumes start to sound alike because they rely on copycat words and phrases like, Profit Growth, Change Management, Negotiation, Strategy, Cutting Overhead, Visionary, Relationship Management and so forth accompanied by a mash-up of metrics. While these words, in context, are important, the lack of meaty context flattens the story.

As well, you might want to consult a resume book and other corporate communications resources from which to stir up more flavorful words. You may then wish to research designs and strategies – without ‘stealing’ ideas, you can browse through websites that display sample resumes, gleaning ideas and converting them into your own special sauce. Or, research and hire a resume writing professional qualified to partner on your unique professional story.

Roll up your sleeves and get writing (or collaborating) on your executive resume story.

Once you have invested time and energy in building your career resume toolkit or researching a writing partner, you will realize how complex the process is for a robust resume. It is not comprised of a single ingredient or a simple process step. Instead, it requires time, concentration, finesse and a bit of je ne sais quoi.

About the Author

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a career storyteller and owner of She is hired by executives, entrepreneurs and organizations to build game-changing portfolios and is a sought-after blogger whose work is published and quoted in Fast Company, TIMES, Forbes, FOX Business, WSJ, Glassdoor and U.S. News.