What if you never have to worry about getting a job ever again?
Fresh out of college, I was scared out of my wits. I discovered that finding a job is emotionally exhausting, physically tiring, and wallet-draining.
I really wanted to become a full-time freelance copywriter, but my nagging parents insisted that I find myself a ‘real job’.
Like a good son, I dutifully obeyed my parents and walked into the horrifying world of job searching while clutching my HR degree.
A few months went by and nobody’s calling me. I can already see my diploma withering like a poor leaf. My parents are now making snide remarks that their son is a freeloader…
I knew I had to do something. So I took out my copywriting skills and went to work.
The next day I was hired.
Why should you listen to me?
First, I’m an HR-degree holder. I know what to write and say because we were specifically trained in college how to select the best candidates and weed out the bad ones.
The training was brutal. We had to unlearn everything my parents, good-intentioned strangers, and online articles have taught us about writing resumes.
But even then, it wasn’t enough…
Next, I’ve held 4 different jobs that are not relevant to my HR degree.
I had no relevant skills and experience when I got these jobs (in exact order):
- Product Development Coordinator (Procurement/Logistics)
- Community Manager (Marketing/Advertising)
- Writing Consultant (Writing/Consultancy)
- Data Analyst (Math/Statistics/Programming)
I’ve also been shortlisted for other irrelevant positions as well: Stock Analyst, Marketing Executive, Systems Engineer. And when I say shortlisted, I’m saying I was bombarded with calls and emails.
I owe all of these opportunities to my copywriting skills.
This resume copywriting (I made up that term) skill I acquired and refined is so effective that it feels like a sin not to share it with other people.
Are you ready?
Here we go:
Tip #1: Use The Job ‘Matrix’
Making your own Job Matrix is simple:
- Draw 2 boxes.
- Read the job description from top to bottom and list the skills, experience, and traits they look for in an ideal candidate. List all of these in the first box.
- List every skill, experience, and traits that you have. Everything.
- Match everything that fits between the 2 boxes with a straight line.
- Highlight the matching skills, experience, and traits on your resume.
This is how I approach customer research and writing headlines.
This approach works for me because I’m actually matching the customers’ goals, pains, fears, and desires with what my client’s business can actually offer.
This way, I won’t be forced to make exaggerated claims or come up with vague promises. I’m hitting the spot that resonates with my client’s intended audience.
Tip #2: Keep it to One Page
When I see resumes with more than one page, my HR instincts tell me 2 things:
The candidate has more than a decade of experience, or
The candidate is lazy
Sad to say that it’s always the latter.
Why did I say lazy?
Because the candidate never took the time to be direct with their resume. They compensated for their laziness by pumping their resumes with fluff and BS.
They list irrelevant skills, experience, seminars, and certifications thinking it will look good on paper. It won’t.
Remember this: 1 page = 10 years of experience.
What’s funny is that I sometimes encounter candidates with 20-40 years of experience and they still managed to keep it to a single page.
Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter: Do you really think you’ll go through every single page of a resume when you’re receiving tons of it every day?
There’s no hard rule whether your copy should be long or short. You just write copy as long as you should.
The point is to always think from the perspective of your customer. When you’re looking for a job, your customer is the recruiter.
Another point to understand is that being direct speeds up the sale. A 2-page resume filled with BS and fluff will only distract the reader and will make it harder for you to sell yourself.
When your reader didn’t get your point immediately, they’ll put it in the ‘For Consideration’ pile which means you’re not getting a call from them.
Tip #3: Don’t State Your Objective
Coming from the heels of removing fluff and BS from your resume, stating your objective on your resume is painfully redundant.
Your objective is to get hired and it is already implied the moment you hand over your resume.
It wastes the precious space of your one-page resume.
Besides, nobody’s buying that crappy ‘to gain experience…’ line.
In copywriting, customers go through a buying process called the sales funnel.
In every step of the sales funnel, there’s an appropriate message that keeps the customer’s buying process smooth and consistent. If you used an inappropriate message, it creates dissonance within the customer. They will leave and you’ll lose a sale.
The same goes for writing objectives. It’s redundant and the BS creates dissonance within the recruiter.
What do you write instead of objectives then? The answer lies in Tip #4.
Tip #4: Always Lead With Your Strength
There are no concrete rules on how you should organize your resume.
Exploit this fact by always leading with your strength:
- Came from a top-ranked university with excellent GPA? Lead with that.
- Have a relevant working experience with performance rating to match? Lead with that.
- Have relevant skills and interesting projects to show for it? Lead with that.
Your biggest strength should replace your lousy objective…
Then you write your resume from your strongest to your weakest.
recruiters tend to focus on the upper section of a resume. Like normal people, their focus dwindles down as they move to the bottom section of your resume.
It creates more impact and compels the recruiter to read more about you. You’re increasing the chances of being on top of the ‘For Interview’ pile.
In copywriting, experts always say “Fire your biggest cannon first!”.
Putting your biggest benefit on the top of your copy makes it easier for your readers to slide down all the way to the ‘Buy’ button. You have to hook them right away or risk losing their attention altogether.
A lot of expert copywriters and marketing agencies have already proven this: In a single page, most people will only read the first paragraph. With 10 pages, most people will only read page #1.
Tip #5: Focus on Accomplishments, Not Responsibilities
Don’t write on your resume what you’ve done.
Write on your resume what you’ve achieved:
Don’t: Write that you’re the best.
Do: Write that you’re the employee of the year 3x in a row.
Don’t: Write that you field calls from customers.
Do: Write that you’ve serviced 1,200 of them and that you have a customer satisfaction rate of 90%.
Don’t: Write that you help your company achieve its goals.
Do: Write that you have proposals that are implemented and improved business performance by 10x.
Don’t: Write that you coordinate clients and suppliers.
Do: Write that you raked in $20 million in 6 months as a result of coordinating clients and suppliers.
Don’t be squeamish about it. If it’s true, it deserves to be known. Otherwise, the recruiter will have no idea of what you’re actually capable of.
Vague copy generates a vague response.
Every business wants to claim their the best, the fastest, the biggest, or the most trusted. It’s your job as a copywriter to make that clear to your client’s intended audience without resorting to superlatives.
Being specific and direct with your writing pumps up the clarity and persuasiveness of your copy. When customers understand better, your clients sell better.
Tip #6: Talk in Figures
You already noticed this: Figures are easier to understand.
Look at the difference:
Amateur Resume: Helped teammates significantly improve their performance.
Pro Resume: Developed an open-source web tracker that reduced team errors by 90%.
Putting in figures make a world of difference.
90% is a lot. And the recruiter will immediately see how ‘significant’ your contributed efforts really are.
You won’t get a significant response by merely writing ‘significantly improved performance’.
Here are more real-world examples from me:
- Generated P20 million in 6 months from 1 sourced product.
- Handled 6 brands and Increased total social media follower base by 10x in 12 months.
- Processed 10,000 datasets in 12 months. Analysed 2,000 suspicious data sets, 85% confirmed anomalous data.
If you look closely, you’ll find that I put the duration as well.
That’s because generating P20 million is nothing if it took you 10 years of product sourcing to do it. Binding your accomplishment with time amplifies the impact of your accomplishment.
Putting in figures in your copy boosts clarity and persuasiveness because specific figures make your claim easy to wrap around the head of your intended audience.
That’s the exact reason why your favorite toothpaste claims they’re ‘Recommended by 8 out of 10 dentists’ instead of just simply saying they’re ‘Recommended by dentists’.
Tip #6: When to Include Seminars and Competitions
There are only 2 instances where you’re allowed to include seminars and competitions in your resume:
When you gave a talk in that seminar
When you won in those competitions.
Seminars and competitions only matter when they work as proof of authority or skill. Otherwise, spare yourself from a bloody chunk of useless text.
Recruiters won’t care.
When it comes to copywriting, It’s easy to fall into the trap of throwing everything you have.
But to most clients, you’ll look like an overeager person who speaks only because you have nothing to say.
You’ll have to be incredibly selective about what you’re going to offer and use as proof. Else, you’re risking dissonance and distraction.
The last thing you want a customer to think is ‘Why the hell did the copywriter include that?’. That means your copy is so off, even an average reader noticed.
Tip #7: Don’t Go for Fancy
Stick to the typical fonts, colors, and designs.
Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri in black — on a white background.
I know, I know: You’re unique and all that.
But there are better platforms where you can show your colorful personality.
Your resume isn’t one of them.
Don’t distract your readers.
Using weird and strange elements in your copy isn’t smart or funny. Readers don’t like this and pro copywriters will immediately notice. They’ll either think you’re a complete amateur or desperate for a crutch.
Think about it:
Would you buy a fish-flavored toothpaste or a mint flavored one?
Why the hell am I teaching you this?
Once you start freelance copywriting, some employers might ask for your resume.
Weird… but it happens!
Taking your resume game to the next level helps you stand out from the pack and impress clients who are sick of seeing the same old, boring template that nobody bothers to improve.
A resume crafted like a pro copywriter screams that you know what you’re doing. Plus points!
The best reason of all is that you can use all of these tips to improve your LinkedIn profile copy, one of your most powerful weapons as a freelance copywriter.
LinkedIn is the default site for professionals and business owners (basically your target market as a copywriter) so it makes a lot of sense to bring your A-game on this site.
Plus, LinkedIn profiles tend to rank high on Google.
If you’re on LinkedIn, try to search your full name on Google. You’ll find your LinkedIn profile at the top 3 search results.
Some of the best clients can be found on LinkedIn and they’ll definitely check your profile, especially when you don’t expect it.
So better be armed and ready!
Do you know someone who needs to read this blog? Share it with them!
Which resume copywriting tip did you like the most?
Author: Ches Roldan
Ches is a freelance copywriter who loves reading crime thriller novels and watching sci-fi films.