You’ve probably read in numerous career blogs and articles that in the digital age, you need a personal brand not just a resume. As we embark into the new decade, it’s truly time to convert that outdated resume into a compelling story that reflects a clear marketing strategy of who you are, the value you bring, and what you can do (and have done) through key facets and examples.

Resume writing is formulaic and there are must-haves that should always be included: a branding statement that uniquely qualifies the job candidate, a professional summary that highlights the candidate’s key skills, professional experience that is supported by real results and actions, and a layout that is aesthetically pleasing, modern, and adequately organized. 

In each section of your resume, consider the outcome of each aspect of your work – who did you impact, how did you create the impact, and why was it impactful? Think about it from an objective standpoint:  what would a recruiter or CEO consider to be most impactful in your work and your unique value? Think about how your career has progressed into larger responsibilities across business segments, industries, and organizations.

If you’re an executive, you’ll want to show how your leadership has influenced organizations while including details about the teams you’re built and led, and you’ll want to discuss how you’ve imparted transformational growth through new processes, procedures, and systems.

Here are some tips to get you started and focused on these main areas:

Branding Statement. I’ve reviewed dozens of resumes in the hiring process for lawyers and I’m a trained, multi-certified executive resume writer. In my 10+ years of experience, I’ve seen a lot of wasted real estate from people who write “summary” or “profile” at the top of the resume. Instead, create a branding statement that focuses on your biggest areas of value in your industry and targeted roles.  Branding statements are key areas of concentration or unique value statements that evidence your skill sets.

An example of a simple value statement is: “Leveraging strategic business development with high-impact client results.”  In analyzing this branding statement, it’s clear that “business development” and “client results” would point to someone who’s a VP of business development or a director of client services. You can also opt for a more low-key approach and list your self as a VP of Business Development and then include core areas of focus such as “Client Relationships, Sales and Marketing Strategy, & Business Growth.” 

Need some inspiration? Reflect on old performance evaluations and compare them to recent ones to see how you have grown as a leader in your current role and company.

Professional Summary. Keep the objective out of your resume (your objective is to find a job).  Instead, focus on writing a professional summary that includes the high-caliber skill sets you offer.  Think about industry specific words, core areas of focus, and soft skills that you bring to the table. Review job postings or ask a recruiter about the key focus areas of the idea candidate. Match the skills found in a job posting to your resume so that they are industry-specific.

If you’re searching for a project management role, review multiple job postings for project manager jobs. You will begin to see a common theme of words often used in the postings.  Highlight them and make a list.  You will know what to include in your resume based on repetition of those words.

Craft Responsibilities Around Accomplishments.  Consider how you have improved the infrastructure of organizations and individual departments. Think about the 3 P’s: profitability, productivity, and process. Write down how you’ve contributed to all 3 elements in each organization. Think about the promotions you’ve earned that make your career progressive and consistently advancing into new markets. Also, consider the types of awards and recognitions you’ve received.

Education and Continued Training. Consider adding relevant coursework if you’re new to an industry or seeking to break into another industry. Factor in the continuing education and training you have undertaken and consider how you can highlight any expansion of your educational opportunities. If there is a new certification out there, consider embarking on it to show a commitment to your continued growth and knowledge. If you’re trying to break into an executive leadership role for the first time, you may want to look into an executive leadership program that offers rigorous training and courses. Many of these can be done online in as little as 2-8 weeks. Think of them as a mini MBA that you can leverage in your executive resume to show you’re starting with a foundation in your executive training.

Resume Style. Minimalist resume design is something I actively promote. While I love infusing color in headers to give the resume some pop, I don’t believe in all of the pomp and circumstance of fancy graphics, especially in conservative professions like law and traditional business. The design should not detract or derail the reader.

Think about your industry, your role, and the types of organizations you will be applying to. Consider the audience who will be receiving and reviewing your resume. Creative professions and fields may allow for the more creative resume styles. However, keep in mind that if you’re applying online through ATS software systems, graphs, charts, and tables will need to be modified.

As you begin your 2020 job search, keep in mind that beyond the skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments, employers want to know your personal mission and what propels you to move forward. Finally, don’t forget to build a LinkedIn profile and build that active network.


  • Wendi Weiner

    Personal Branding & Career Expert

    Wendi Weiner is an attorney and award-winning writer who has been featured in over 75 major media outlets (including CNN, HuffPost, Money, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Business Insider) as a top authority in personal branding, social storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. As a solopreneur and owner of The Writing Guru, her trademarked namesake company, Wendi holds 6 certifications in resume writing, personal branding, career coaching, and a pioneer certification in LinkedIn training and usage. She is the country’s only Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) who is a licensed attorney, and she holds a pioneer certification in LinkedIn training and usage.   Wendi has been credited with more than 10 honors and awards for her ability to create powerful career and personal brands for attorneys, top executives, and C-suite leaders for their job search, LinkedIn presence, and digital footprint. She additionally provides high-impact content writing for corporations and major publications, and speaks on the global level about personal branding, resume writing, business professionalism, reputation management, and social networking.   Wendi's own career background includes serving as a college writing professor for 7 years while simultaneously practicing law for almost 12 years, both in big law and in-house for a Fortune 200 company. Wendi is an active member of the Florida Bar since 2004, and she holds a J.D. from Stetson University College of Law and an undergraduate degree in English from Florida State University.