Create an Unsinkable Resume

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Alicia Arenas’ recent TalentCulture post, Business Leaders: Go Niche or Go Home resonated!

Arenas says that entrepreneurs must “choose a target market.” Similarly, job seekers must zero in on their target reader, and then laser-focus their words and actions on attracting that audience.

As a resume writer, I only write for careerists who are targeted! And by this, I mean, you know what position you wish to attract with your resume, cover letter, biography, social media profile and the like.  Ideally, the position upon which you are concentrating is one that can be articulated with a title such as, “Marketing Director” or “Accounting Manager” or  “Information Architect,” or some combination thereto.

This position must be a genuine role that companies are, or should, be filling with YOUR type of credentials. Companies must have a present need to invest in folks like YOU who uniquely are qualified to step into vacant shoes–and create traction.

How you begin shaping your value story to appeal to that audience is this:

  • First, think about and get quite familiar with your target audience’s areas of pain – write those down. In an earlier blog post, I listed multiple Internet resources you may access to research companies; you can click HERE to access those. For your assistance, a few of those sites include, and
  • Second, craft a compelling message that shows how you can heal those pain points. Identify performance stories that prove you’ve been there and done that and include not only the basic, “I built a product plan, then built the product, then rolled it into the market in 8 months,” but also illustrate ‘the how’ including your thought processes, leadership idiosyncrasies, and creative way of developing and executing your plan that led to a profitable outcome. Describe your initiatives in great detail initially so that a glistening facet of what makes you UNIQUELY you doesn’t get dulled by ruthless initial self-editing.
  • Edit later, polishing and shining a spotlight on the most interesting and relevant story points that will entice your reader.
  • Next, reread your stories and ensure you are demonstrating business savvy and sensitivity as if you already were working at your desired company. Do this by connecting the dots to show how what you did at your past company helped not only your immediate team reach their goals but also aided the organization as a whole do bigger and better things and ultimately, grew the bottom line.

Funneling these career stories through a filter based on your target market’s (e.g., company’s / industry’s) needs is the only way to clear the clutter and create clarity that captures attention! Otherwise, if you try to build a resume that is all things to all audiences, you will, as Alicia says, “sink your business,” which in this case is, “You, Inc.”

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Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Since 1997, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Chief Career Writer and Partner, CareerTrend, has collaborated with professionals in career transition, or those individuals who have a desire to ignite their existing careers. One of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) in the world, Jacqui has a BA in Writing and 15-years’ corporate experience.


  1. While targeting can be effective, and goals are important, the best resumes are the ones that get the prospect to say, “tell me more…” Jobseekers who laser-focus on one role or company can be disappointed when economic conditions don’t support their blueprint. While it’s important to know what you want, knowing how to get there is even more vital. To simply say, “be compelling” isn’t enough – that’s like saying, “be funny”. Well, how do you do that? I agree with your point about finding a pain point. But job seekers have to understand that finding unique and unprecedented outlets for their talents is the greatest requirement from today’s market.

  2. Hi. Of course the resume should entice the reader to want to know more; this fact does not preclude the resume having a targeted message, one that speaks to the candidate’s unique areas of value as they wrap around certain types of positions, companies, industries — and their specific areas s pain.

    While I never suggested targeting ‘just one’ company or role, I DO assert that job seekers should find tangible, real-world position descriptions that have the look and feel for the type of role that their attributes would fit (and for which they qualify). Finding ‘unique and unprecedented’ outlets for careerists’ talents must start with pragmatic action steps that include researching actual companies exhibiting opportunities for market share and revenue growth and to which these careerists’ talents may then pitch themselves as viable solutions.

    As to the reference to ‘being compelling,’ as you suggest, sometimes leaving some questions unanswered — leaving the reader ‘wanting more’ is an effective marketing strategy. I don’t give all of my trade secrets away in this post. However, I have openly shared a few resume writing strategies over at my blog, here:; and here:


  3. I think the other point that you advocate, Jacqui, which goes without saying but may not have been detailed here, is to customize the resume to the audience. Agree with both that the “pain points” are critical … knowing what’s not getting done, where money is being lost, where productivity or innovation isn’t happening, where competitors are beating up the target employer, etc. is critical. Thanks for your wisdom! @ValueIntoWords

  4. @SusanWhitcomb Thanks for expanding, Susan. I was nodding vigorously reading through each example ‘pain point.’ I appreciate your further detail – the reader (audience) is the focal point of the resume; ‘their’ needs come first. Thank you!

  5. Great article, @Valueintowords (Jacqui) and valuable additions from @SusanWhitcomb ‘s and @Westfallonline’s comments. Put simply, do not start developing a resume with a list of responsibilities. Rather, think about what you did, how you did this and quantify the results of the process to show who you are and what you do best and how this will benefit the prospective employer. Impress hiring managers by proving that you are credible and have the skills needed to get THEIR job done successfully the first time. Your story should demonstrate that you have both strategic and tactical knowledge to overcome their challenges. Being able to problem-solve as well as perform will differentiate you from other potential candidates, make you memorable and move you to the top of the list. The idea is to reassure employers that not only can you follow instructions, but that you have the drive and the know-how to create effective, high ROI solutions.

  6. @Debra_Feldman@ValueIntoWords@SusanWhitcomb Hear Hear, Debra. I couldn’t have said it better. In particular, I like your point about reassuring employers that you can do more than following instructions, using drive and know-how to ‘create’ solutions with a return!

  7. Valuable advice. There are too many generic resumes and cover letter templates floating around HR inboxes that candidates often run together. Even more so, job seekers need to represent themselves well not only through a first impression (if they get it) but also afterwards, on multiple social platforms. And that’s all before any kind of face-to-face interview.Cachinko, Job Matching & Career Networking on

  8. @cachinko Agree, Cachinko that multiple social media platforms extend the message. The value of a well-thought-out resume process is that its message extends “beyond” the first impression into these social platforms and even throughout the interview phases.

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