You’ve spent hours perfecting your resume. It glows with relevant skills and accomplishments, it’s optimized for keyword-crawling job sites, and it’s been PDF’d in perfectly kerned Helvetica.
Great work. But when somebody visits your website, your resume isn’t the “front door.” Your visitors want to see a few words that describe what you do. And if the first words that greet them are a boring biography (“an award-winning whatever with X years of experience”), you’re missing an opportunity.
You are a brand in the marketplace, and the best brands say what they do in a few concise words. You can identify many companies by their taglines alone. “The ultimate driving machine.” “Good to the last drop.” “What’s in your wallet?” You need a compelling tagline too.
Writing your tagline is like writing a resume as a haiku. Consider your entire career arc. Step back and think about it in the simplest terms possible. Strip away every needless detail. Also think about the person who’s going to hire you–your client or future employer. What does that person need that you can deliver? Now try to sum up your single best benefit in four to six positive, affirming words.
In search of a good example, I looked up the websites of a few dentists in Manhattan. Almost all of these sites have professional graphics, a paragraph of SEO-friendly copy, and basic information like an address and phone number. But their descriptions–the first phrase that explains why you should choose this particular dentist–are quite different. Compare these three examples:
- A leading Dental Cosmetics and Specialty Care practice in New York City.
- A cosmetic and General Dentistry office located in Manhattan’s Midtown East.
- Because a smile goes a long way.
The third example wins hands down. It feels good to think your dentist cares about smiles.
This is a true opportunity to stand out from the pack. You’d expect to see creative professionals with great taglines all over the place, but they’re not common. Spend some time browsing the Mediabistro Freelance Marketplace or Creative Hotlist, and you’ll see relatively few creatives whose websites offer a succinct summary of the benefits they deliver through their work.
I did find one I especially liked, though, on a site by Paul Pelkonen, who specializes in writing about classical music and opera. His tagline? “Critical thinking in the cheap seats.”
Give it a try. Can you write a haiku resume as good as that?