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Ask the Headhunter/ Branding & Communications

Is Your Resume Content Marketing?


by Nick Corcodilos
Contributing Writer

See More by this author >

You market your company’s products and services using marketing content. Do you use content marketing concepts in your resume to promote yourself when you’re looking for a new job?

Let’s take a look at whether—and how—your resume fits the bill. In “What Is Content Marketing?” the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) gives us a useful definition of content marketing:

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

“Profitable customer action,” in this case, is getting a job offer from an employer. Does your resume meet the definition of marketing content?

  • Creating and distributing. You write up your credentials and send them out. So far, so good.
  • Relevant and valuable. Is the material in your resume relevant to the employer you’re sending it to? Not if you’re sending the exact same resume to every employer. The challenge for a job hunter is that every employer’s specific needs are different. Company A might be struggling with its Web analytics. Company B might suffer from a lopsided ad spending strategy. You can mention both topics in your resume, but how valuable is that without a business plan to address one employer’s specific challenges?
  • Attract, acquire, and engage. Most employers I know receive far more resumes than they can read. So they process resumes using ATSes—Applicant Tracking Systems. Does that engage the employer you want to work for? A job hunter on an forum complains that, 23 minutes after submitting an online application, a rejection e-mail arrives. It’s not trivial to point out that a resume being matched against “keywords” by a machine is not attracting or engaging anyone.
  • A clearly defined and understood target audience. You might send your resume to a specific employer you know a lot about. But if you broadcast your resume via “job aggregators” (like SimplyHired or Indeed) using “criteria” to select employers, you probably understand little or nothing about those companies. Define and understand before you target, and your content marketing is likely to be more successful. But you’ll have to write a new resume for each employer, right?
  • Driving profitable customer action. Is that what your resume does? If you think so, take your resume and the list of companies you’ve sent it to. For each company, describe how the job you want is set up to produce profit in that particular company. Then look at your resume. Where does it explain how you will use particular skills to produce profit in the way the company wants that done? If your resume does this, then it might drive a profitable job offer.

CMI says, “Consumers have simply shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising.” That’s why employers own ATSes: to skip your resume. It’s not because they hate you, but because they simply cannot engage with every resume—just as you can’t engage with every TV commercial. 

CMI’s dictum about effective content marketing tactics can be readily applied to your resume: “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.”

Your resume might be interesting, but I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that it doesn’t make the employer reading it (if it’s read at all) more intelligent.

When I did the keynote presentation for an association of professional resume writers, I suggested that “Resumes Should Be Illegal.” After trashing resumes as a job-hunting tool, I pointed out to the audience that they could get rich by writing “relevant and valuable” business plans for their clients—one for each employer to be approached.

I’m sure the editors of CMI didn’t intend to address resumes as content marketing when they wrote: “Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That's the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you ‘stuff.’” It’s also the difference between a garbage resume and intelligent content that gets you hired.

So, do you think your resume qualifies as content marketing? What relevant and valuable information could you put in there? Join me on the Discussion Forum to knock around some content ideas. 

About Nick Corcodilos

Nick Corcodilos writes "Ask The Headhunter," a weekly blog on in which he shows you how to tackle the daunting obstacles that job hunters and managers face when trying to work together. From time to time, Corcodilos also will provide feature stories offering insights into various management career strategies, In addition, his newest books, Keep Your Salary Under Wraps, How to Work with Headhunters and How Can I Change Careers?, are available as PDFs.