Thanks to a major rebound in labor market growth, unemployment has fallen to a 17-year low, according to recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Your company may be one that posts upcoming openings internally to give employees first shot at filling those positions before they are published on job sites like monster.com or careerbuilder.com. How prepared are you to move up in your company? One of the keys to getting a promotion from within your organization is a well-written resume.
You may be thinking, Yeah, I already knew that, but what you may not know is that a resume written to apply for an internal position is a bit different from the resume you would write if you were looking for a job elsewhere. Read through this guide to learn how to take a bland resume and create a powerful presentation of your professionalism and qualifications that will make any hiring manager sit up and take notice.
Scrap Your Current Resume and Start Over
You may think that, to land that new middle management position, all you need to do is dust off your ten-year old resume and add some new information to it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The good news is, if you take the time to sit down and write a first-rate resume tailored to the internal position you’re applying for, you’ll have a substantial competitive edge over the other candidates who only knocked the dust off their resumes.
Don’t throw that yellowed copy away just yet — your old resume is full of relevant information that you will use as you write a new resume that hiring managers will want to read. When you write your resume anew, you must think about the position you’re applying for.
How will you use your skills and experience to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of that new position? In what ways will your work habits and how you fit into workplace culture make you a great fit for the job? You don’t want to convince them of how great you have been at your current position. Rather, you want to show them how you’re perfect for that new position.
Polish Your Professional Profile
Times change, and so must the format of your resume. Take a look at the career objective on your old resume and think about all the time you spent to get it just right. Now, select it and delete it. ALL of it! That is, unless you want to come across as a self-centered employee who is only there for the money.
Even though you have been there for at least a few years, your employer will still want to see how you plan to contribute to the company if you are hired for that position. Make sure to translate examples of what you’ve been doing in your current role to what your new boss will expect of you in the target role, and replace your objective statement with a professional profile.
What’s a professional profile?
Your professional profile is a short paragraph that tells the employer about your skills and how they directly relate to the job you seek. Let’s say you are an account manager who wants to move up into a sales manager position. In addition to emphasizing customer relationship skills, which are important for both roles, you would also want to focus on numbers and leadership abilities, which are the primary concerns of a sales manager.
Additionally, your profile is a great place to mention that you are proficient with any required software and systems that the company uses. Taking all of this into account, here is what a professional profile may look like for our sales rep.
Highlight Your Most Relevant Skills
Balancing an ink pen on your nose might qualify as a useful office skill, but it should probably be saved for sharing somewhere else. Carefully consider the skills you possess and how each one fits the job. You may even want to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least important and 5 being critically important. Rate your skills based on the importance your employer places on them for that position, and share only those skills that are critical for performing the job well.
Better yet, match your skills with precision by giving them the same exact names as the skills in the description of the internal job you’re applying for. This gets the hiring manager’s attention by communicating that you fully understand what that job entails and how you plan to use your skills once you have that job.
If you’re applying for a position in a different department, the hiring manager may wonder what you have to offer when all of your experience is with another job and in another department. You can help him overcome this objective by highlighting your relevant skills right at the top of the page underneath your profile. Create a “Relevant Skills” section that contains four to five bullets explaining what makes you perfect for the new position.
These are not necessarily your most important accomplishments. Rather, they are the skills you posses that speak directly to what the new manager is looking for. You can often obtain a good starter list right from the job advertisement. Locate the primary job requirements and then write a one sentence description for each explaining how you fulfill it.
Define Your Accomplishments
One of the most difficult parts of writing your resume is where you convey your accomplishments. When written with little thought, they are about as dry as the Sahara, each bullet point stinging sand in the reader’s eyes. When you write bullet points keep your focus on the major accomplishments you have achieved. Refrain from writing a self-indulgent chronicle of everything you have done for your employer since the day you were hired. Save that for the gritty memoir you plan to write when you retire.
To make your accomplishments more engaging, write it in the following format:
- What you did
- How you did it
- The benefit for the department
For example, the Account Rep would write something like the following for their accomplishments:
Don’t forget to include all of the tasks that you performed which were not technically part of your job description. Translate these unofficial duties into strong accomplishments that support your ability to meet and exceed the key measurables of the job that you want to get.
Fill In The Gaps
If you are applying for a management role, you must showcase your management skills. Set yourself apart from other candidates by displaying a multi-faceted experience and the ability to take on extra responsibilities. If you’re seeking a promotion into a management position, but don’t have any formal experience, highlight how you demonstrated leadership skills and abilities. Do this even if your job title was in a non-leadership role.
For example, if you have been with the company long enough, you have probably mentored new employees. This can be written in the following manner to best showcase your management abilities:
Don’t forget to include accomplishments that didn’t have concrete, verifiable results. For example, did your manager or another department ask you to contribute your expertise to assist the company in moving forward or in overcoming an internal issue? If so, list the part you played in these discussions and the outcome. By doing this, you position yourself as an effective problem solver who can transform a potential problem into a proactive solution with out-of-the-box thinking.
Brag…But Not Too Much
Your resume is the place to toot your own horn. When done right, talking about your successes can drive home just how effective you will be in that new position. However, it’s important that you remain truthful in what you claim credit for. Don’t get cocky and overestimate your contribution to a project, because the new manager knows what you have done or can easily ask someone down the hall. So, how do you write effectively about your accomplishments? Try writing something like the following:
Putting together everything that we have learned, here’s what the professional profile looks like so far:
Jargon is Good
When you apply for a job at another company, it is almost always best to avoid the use of too much jargon in your resume. However, when applying for an internal position, jargon is appropriate. Listen for terms and phrases commonly used at your workplace and use them in your resume. This makes it clear to the hiring manager that you are one of them. For example, your company may refer to customers as clients or accounts.
Be sure to use the term that is preferred at your organization to get a leg up on your competition. Other jargon to use includes acronyms, software or system names. Truth be told, some of the phrases may even be outdated or corny, but if they are used within your company make sure to include them. Just be sure not to overdo it. You want to convey that you are part of the team, not a smooth-talking car salesman.
Just like inserting jargon can help you, so can name dropping. We aren’t talking about other employee names, but rather large clients and accounts. Remember, as a Sales Manager your job is to intimately know these clients and their competitors in the industry. If you worked with any of them as an Account Rep make sure to include their names in your bullet points. For example, you might write:
Name dropping is one of the largest advantages that internal applicants have over external ones. Often, external applicants can’t really list their major client names, because they are considered proprietary to their previous company. Many have also signed non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from revealing this information. However, as an internal candidate, your resume is safe from prying eyes other than workers at your own company. So, feel free to add in anything that may impress your future manager.
Use Management’s Own Words
As an internal employee, one of the best ways to get that new position is through previous performance reviews. These valuable pieces of job performance benchmarks can often provide many of the powerful bullet points that showcase your success at the company. Even better, management teams are often coached or trained on how to write these reviews. Thus, the wording and style is probably already in a format that will both make your resume shine and speak a language that the hiring manger likes.
Applying for an internal promotion can create anxiety in some workers while creating over-confidence in others. The key to success is to treat the process with the utmost of professionalism just as you would any other external job application. By spending the proper time drafting a resume and including your specialized insider knowledge, you can craft a resume that will definitely make you a serious contender. Just remember to treat everyone respectfully even if you don’t get the job. You never know when another one will come up.
Whether you live in Michigan or around the country, the employment consultants at Vertical Media Solutions can guide you toward a successful career move. Our certified resume writing and interview preparation services are designed to emphasize your professionalism. Learn how we can help today: 616-631-4300.