In our fifteenth episode, Sofie is joined by guest, Emily Kapit, a certified professional resume writer. She shares her expertise on building a standout resume that catches the attention of hiring managers. Emily explains the “Pattern of Excellence” and how to use it to highlight unique skills and strengths in a resume. She also offers practical advice on avoiding common mistakes, maximizing your skills and achievements, and standing out, regardless of limited work experience or career transitions.
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About the Guest
Emily Kapit is a 3X certified Master Resume Writer as well as an industry-leading career strategist and career resilience expert. She is also the founder of ReFresh Your Step, a career advisory firm with clients located around the world.
Emily and her team of highly certified writers and career advisors work extensively with clients on all facets of their career progression and resilience, including their written professional assets, negotiation tactics, job search strategies, mock interviews, career guidance, and more.
Emily’s insights and guidance have been published in Forbes, Recruiter.com, Glassdoor, HuffPost, among many others. She has also been profiled by Forbes, as a Founding Member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and was recently noted as one of the nation’s “10 Resume Experts We Love” by Recruiter.com.
Sofie: Hello everyone and welcome back to Claim Your Potential, the Empowerment podcast. I’m your host, Sofie, and for this episode, we are joined by Emily Kapit to discuss how to build a standout resume. Emily is a three-time certified master resume writer, as well as an industry-leading career strategist and career resilience expert.
She’s also the founder of Refresh Your Step, a career advisory firm with clients located around the world. She and her team of highly certified writers and career advisors work extensively with clients on all facets of their career progress. And resilience, including their written professional assets, negotiation tactics, job search strategies, mock interviews, career guidance, and more.
Emily’s insights and guidance have been published in Forbes recruiter.com, Glassdoor HuffPost, among many others. She has also been profiled by Forbes as a founding member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and was recently noted as one of the Nation’s 10 resume experts we love by recruiter.com. Please welcome Emily Kapit.
Thank you so much for being with us today.
So to jump right in, what is the pattern of excellence? This is something that I know you mentioned and I’m curious as to what this is and how we can use our pattern of excellence in our job searches and resumes and just career development.
Emily: Sure, absolutely. And of course, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
So the pattern of excellence is actually really crucial to all career development. It is your ability to recognize and. The points of impact that you have had throughout your career, no matter how young you are, how old you are, what industry, what level, any of it. Knowing your pattern of excellence, knowing your accomplishments and measurables, both quantitative and qualitative, and then being able to leverage that both within the documents, resume, LinkedIn profile, all of that, but also, every other aspect of your career growth, to know what you’ve done and done well, allows you to make moves within your industry, make moves outside of your industry, be able to negotiate better, converse better, interview better.
I mean, it’s just so critically aligned with every aspect of career growth, and when people start to recognize that, that’s when the beauty starts happening and the magic. So it’s, it’s a pretty critical aspect, that pattern of excellence.
Sofie: And how can job seekers make the most of their skills and achievements to stand out as they’re applying to positions and to stand out on their resumes?
Emily: Sure. So one thing that I always wanna make sure people know right off the bat is that your resumes, and same with your LinkedIn profiles, they should be less of a laundry list of responsibilities and more in recognition of your points of impact, your pattern of excellence, the ways that you’ve made a difference throughout your career. And this is, you know, whether you are, you’re fairly new to the job market and you’re still kind of referencing maybe time in school and projects and extracurriculars, internships, stuff like that, all the way up through the C-Suite, you know, Chief Executive Officer and similar titles.
Knowing and tracking what you have done, especially as you’re thinking about the professional assets. Again, the resumes, the LinkedIn. Tracking what you’ve done, the various ways that you’ve been impactful, either in leading something or playing a critical element on a team with an initiative, knowing that information is so vital. and so what we recommend people to do is to actually track that. On a very consistent basis to know what have I done, how have I done it, what’s been the outcome?
Now we have clients go through a process with us to gather this information. We call it the capitalized process. My last name is Kapit. So it’s a fun pun if you will, but it really helps people to understand what have I done and done well? That I can point to numbers, dollars, and percentages, but also qualitative things. What do I wanna do more of? What do I wanna do less of? And how am I going to utilize that for my job?
And a lot of information is absolutely meant to be integrated into those professional assets. Again, the resume, the LinkedIn profile, and so when people track that information, they are perhaps noting it for themselves on, a quarterly basis. So a few times a year, four times a year, they better be able to, understand their value in various different ways and then point to in the documents, but then also in, in informational discussions, interviews, as well as performance reviews at the end of the year. So identifying the ways that you’ve been impactful, whether it, you know, and again, this is cross-industry, so it’s gonna be different per person, but always applicable. You know, but key ones that, that, that tend to be transferrable, are going to be, you know, relationship building, communication process, streamlining project management, strong interactions with team members and executives in, you know, internal and external stuff like that.
And of course, things that are relevant to one’s career. So tech-specific, if you’re in the tech. Marketing specific in the marketing field, whatever it might be, but there’s always going to be some much, some transferrable skillsets as well that the points of impact tied to those are what people wanna see.
Sofie: And you mentioned this earlier with laundry listing, and I think that’s something that a lot of us who weren’t educated on how to create resumes, that’s what we do, right? We list out, okay, I worked here, you know, here are my 15 different skills.
Emily: Right. That’s exactly what we don’t want people to do.
Sofie: Exactly. Yeah. And so along with laundry listing, what are some other common mistakes that people often make when they’re creating their resumes? Yeah,
Emily: Sure. I mean, we see lots of laundry lists. We see sort of the death by bullet point where it’s just so many bullet points, but it doesn’t say anything. We see people who have absolutely no idea about the importance of branding on a document.
Look, it’s a sales piece. The thing it’s selling is you, so no alignment with the industry you wanna go towards or are in and want to grow in, no alignment with the particular level that someone wants to be at, that lack of information means that people are missing out on who you are, what level you’re at, what industry you’re in.
Critical information that a recruiter or hiring manager should be gathering within just a few seconds of looking at your document. And so I always want people to understand that how someone looks at your resume is, is important.
You know, keep in mind that someone’s gonna look at your resume essentially twice before they talk to you. The first time is a general cursory review just to know what level, what sector, and does this person have anything remarkable about them. If we can let them know exactly the level and sector that you’re aiming for and indicate that you have a strong record of achievement, again, back to that pattern of excellence. Not all of what they are, but so that they are on there and you do that through formatting and, and some, you know, pointing to achievements very quickly that people can just scan, and know that there’s a ton of achievements. Then they can pick up on all other information, level, and sector that you have a pattern of excellence for in a matter of seconds, if it’s done well, they will pick that up very quickly.
And then when they go back to review the document again ahead of speaking with you, perhaps like in an interview, then they’re gonna take a deeper dive into that document, and the content doesn’t change, their time with it changes, then they can really see the various points of impact, right? So keep in mind the two times they’re really gonna review it before speaking to you.
Cursory review to the level, sector, and that you have a strong pattern of excellence. And then they’ll look at it again before they really interview you to get a deeper look at who you are and what you bring to the table, knowing that you’ve been an asset before and you’ll continue to be. And so making sure, of course, that’s in there.
But again, back to, your question. If people leave out the level and sector within the branding piece at the top, then you know they’re doing themselves a disservice. In addition to that, not including a LinkedIn url, you do wanna make sure that that’s on your resume so people can jump to see that as well.
And I should note that your resume and your LinkedIn should work in tandem with one another. They should not be duplicate content pieces for a couple of reasons, and I’m happy to go into that, but they should work hand in hand. Both of those pieces of content should point to you as having a strong pattern of excellence, but done in different ways.
So yeah, those are just a few ways that that, you know, in addition to including a laundry list of responsibilities, other ways you can be hurting yourself on the resume as opposed to helping.
Sofie: And then you mentioned that you wanna be showcasing ultimately your, your pattern of excellence and how you have, you know, succeeded in other roles and really highlighting your experience, specifically how you’ve succeeded in those roles.
But do you have any advice for individuals that have limited work experience or for career transitions and how that may affect their way of doing that pattern of excellence, way of resume building?
Emily: Yeah, no, absolutely. And so let me, I’ll start with someone who has sort of limited work experience and then I’ll switch to someone who, who has, who’s sort of transitioning to a different sector industry because it’s, it’s similar but a bit different as well in terms of advice.
Somebody who has limited work history, whether they are, you know, still in school or just graduated or wherever the case may be. You still have relevant experience, it’s just in a different capacity. So say we have a college student and we work with plenty of college students or grad school students who, you know, they’re, they’re just getting outta school.
They’re planning, you know, graduation coming up in a couple of months, and they’re like, okay, now what? And it’s like, let’s, let’s look at coursework that you’ve taken, group projects within the relevant coursework to show that you work well on a team. And also listing out relevant coursework because that’s gonna, you know, indicate.
Certain areas of knowledge. Say you’re in the, you know, in the tech space or you wanna be in the tech space and you’ve taken a bunch of tech-based courses. We want to include those along with tech skills, but we want to look at class projects that you have done. Relevant internships if you have done them if you’ve worked with professors on anything.
So stuff that’s within the academic world, but they also wanna see leadership in other ways. So extracurriculars are really, really good, you know, it’s an opportunity to showcase, “Hey, I was involved in this club and I led or played a key role in this project and we grew this over here”. You know, if people, even people, they have worked in restaurants, they have been babysitters, they have been nannies, anything along those lines as well. It’s still showing a growth of skillset and so people will often forget that that’s relevant work and we just wanna show the strength of it in a different way, and for students especially to show that they can balance timr.
Because that’s a tough skill sometimes when you’re making your way into the true working world. But to show that you’re able to do that and be a leader or a critical team member in various other capacities, again, group project extracurriculars, working in a restaurant, whatever the case may be, those are all going to actually go a really long way.
And in each of those roles, you’re able to pull out that, this person made a difference and that it wouldn’t have happened without this person. They recognized a major challenge. They were able to bring it around to somebody so it could be resolved. You know, every time I’ve talked to a client who’s been concerned, they don’t have enough, I started asking these questions and all of a sudden the floodgates open. It turns out they have a lot more than they originally thought.
So again, for those who have a little bit less career experience, because they’re younger, we’re definitely able to look back on the last few years, and certainly some people, even as far back as their later years in high school, you know, showing that they were super involved in teams, team sports, that they were highly involved in the dramatic arts or whatever the case may be, to show that they were doing leadership things even back then, that’s still a pattern of excellence.
It’s, you know, as they get further into their career, that stuff will fall off their resume and the LinkedIn profile, but it creates a foundation and then, oh, and did that, does that answer that question for that particular group?
Sofie: Absolutely. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I was thinking in the back of my mind and thinking back what I heard my freshman year of university, and we had this whole resume and cover letter building session, and they pretty much said, look, you don’t need to have an internship under your belt right now.
It’s okay if you don’t. There are ways to talk about what you’ve been doing at university, even some volunteer work you might have done in high school. There are plenty of different things that you can include on a resume, where you’re still communicating that you can do an internship, you can do a job, that you have time management expertise, that you understand maybe more in the tech sector or that your interests are more on the tech sector, your interests are more in the nonprofit sector or whatever it may be. And so, yeah, thank you for sharing that and solidifying that. No matter what your age is, no matter where you are in your career, whether you’re beginning your career or you know, you’re towards the end of your career, you can still build a resume that’s going to be successful and hopefully get you an interview.
Emily: Exactly. Exactly. And so, you know, for our, our students that we work with, that popul. You know, some are coming to us with every internship, every externship, study abroad, leadership at the wazoo. They have that. Others come to us and they’re like, so I fritter away my time in college, but I had fun. And you know, it’s a, it’s a slightly different approach, but we’re encouraging them to, even now.
Wherever they are, go get involved. Go get involved right now and be able to show that experience too. So it’s different per person, but a lot of times just having the good advice freshman year, early on in college. To think through, okay, working towards an internship, working towards working with a professor on research or whatever the case may be, and doing some select extracurriculars.
I, you know, I remember getting the good advice when I was starting college. Don’t get involved in everything. You’ll have no time for anything, and I think that’s also solid advice. Pick the few things that you really care about. And be really good at those. And I think that’s actually good advice for the working world too.
Sofie: No one wants a jack of all trades. Everyone thinks that everyone wants a jack of all trades, but in reality, right, it’s, it’s kind of like, well then what are you actually really good at? If you’re throwing your time into this field and then you’re doing volunteer work here in a completely different field, and have all these different side projects going on. It’s kind of like, well, what is your specialty?
Emily: Exactly, exactly. And so, you know, it’s, it’s always interesting to see sort of the trajectories people have taken in the first few years of school, but as long as they’re working towards something and sort of uncovering what their interests really are, they’re generally doing a good job.
And, and most people are now, You also asked about people who are, who are sort of switching industries, and so I actually had a, I met with a client this morning who’s, who’s doing exactly that? That’s where the pattern of excellence takes on. I would, I would argue an even more critical place because if you can show that you’ve done great work up to this point, then you are putting yourself out there as I am the x factor.
No matter where I am and what I do, I always do great work. Here are clear examples of that. And here’s what I’m looking to do next. And so actually I have a, we have a client right now who she, you know, this is a little bit different, but she, she was an attorney for many years and she decided she wanted to go back into marketing.
She had done marketing and communications work before she went to law school. But, she was a lawyer for many years. Now she wants to go back into marketing and communications. And so the documents we’ve put together for her definitely position her as being successful as a lawyer. But then we also went that one step further, and this is where it really makes a difference.
We went that one step further to pull out the achievements that are most transferable to what she wants to be doing next. So it’s not just that I’ve done great work. Here are some clear examples of that great work, in addition to the ones that are most transferrable to marketing and communications. So we pulled out a lot of like ways that she’d worked with clients on coming up with these very creative strategies that are gonna be most successful that other lawyers wouldn’t have thought of.
That’s a transferrable skill set. A lot of communication work internally and externally. You know, project management, things like that, that would speak to the world that she’s looking to move into. And so that just goes to show that yes, that pattern of excellence is going to be critical no matter where you are in your career and what you want.
But as often as you can, show that you are the X factor and then show that transferability of skills with the achievements tied to them, the better off that you’re going to be making a transition into a different industry. And that also is, brings up an additional point here, which is a lot of times people will get very, very stuck in, I have to apply to 50 roles per day.
You know, all day, every day. That’s all I’m doing is applying to roles online. And we try to tell people, It’s less about the number of applications and more about your strategy of applications. All right, so, and this is especially true for someone who’s making a transition into a different industry.
We wanna be very mindful about, once you have your great polished, fantastic resume and LinkedIn profile, we wanna be incredibly thoughtful about how are we utilizing them? Just applying is certainly, you know, a way to go about your job search, but it’s not the most effective. And so we suggest people really leverage their network in order to get your resume to people.
And so, and some people are better at building their networks and leveraging their networks than others, but learning how to talk to people within your targeted industry, learning how to ask questions about what they’re doing, what they’re working on, what’s going on within that industry, being able to speak to their own achievements that are relevant. These are all really critical for interviews. So even if you’re just doing it informationally to build out your network., targeting certain companies and organizations that you may be interested in goes a really long way. So we have clients who will build out entire roadmaps of this is, these are the main companies or industries or both that I wanna be in.
These are the people that I already know at these places. There are ones that I’ve no contacts at, but I can get them. Here’s how I’m building the strategy to get my network a bit wider. So that if I do see an open role, I’m not just applying online, I’m getting it to someone, and that actually leads to a lot more opportunities faster.
It takes more effort per role, but yields a higher return in terms of conversations and, and then eventually interviews and, and opportunities. And so I think can be a misnomer, especially for younger clients who are like, well, my mom said that I have to apply to all these jobs in my PJs all day, every day, and this is what I need to be doing to get a job.
And it’s like, your mom means well, but she’s wrong. You need to be far more strategic with your job search, much more targeted, leveraging your network, and having real conversations with people outside of there being an opportunity at a place. Which for a lot of people, you need to be proactive with your job search early on just to start knowing who to talk to in certain industries and going to networking events and just getting used to having those conversations.
And so back to that client who’s switching from law to marketing communications, I was very clear with her that hey, we can make that polished set of documents that are gonna show that transferability, but you’re gonna wanna get it to people, not just apply online. That is, especially true for making a transition, so you are having conversations with people who see what you bring to the table above and beyond an applicant tracking system that just looks for keywords because a well-done resume will get you past an applicant tracking system better, but you still want a real person to look at it because a person is always going to understand nuance and skillset in a much deeper way than even the best computer systems out there.
So I wanted to mention that as an important element of general job search, but also making sure to leverage and expand your network if you are looking to transition to a new industry as well.
Sofie: And speaking to your network comment, a strategy that I have found to be decently helpful when applying to positions is going through my LinkedIn network and people that I’ve connected with. And looking through, okay, where are they? What are, what company are they at? Is this a company that I’m applying to, that I’m thinking of applying to?
Yeah. Maybe I should be reaching out to this connection. I mean, they’re already in my network. I mean, yeah, might as well.
Emily: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and it, and it’s, you know, I think what people fail to understand or struggle to understand sometimes is your network is there for a reason. You may not get a hundred percent response rate because people are people and life happens.
If you are truly targeting some places and you’re like, oh, I know someone there, reach out and just indicate, you know, I, I, I’m looking to strategically expand my network. I saw that you work at, you know, a, b, C company and this is a place that I’m really interested in learning more about. You know, if they’re local to you, I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and see, you know, kind of pick your brain about it. f they’re not so local to you, say like, you know, if you have five, 10 minutes, one day, I’d love to ask you some questions about your experience, about your time there, what you see in the industry pipeline.
You’re making this less about you and more about that person. When you, and this is psychology 101, when you ask people their opinions and you show that you feel they are important and that you value their opinions, they wanna be responsive that’s human nature.
Again, not a hundred percent of the time because people are people, but a lot of times people like to feel valued in that way. So we definitely recommend reaching out to people and asking them questions about their background, their thoughts on the company, their career trajectory, what they think is happening in the industry right now, what they expect for 2023 or whatever the case may be, and seeing how that leads.
Further discussion and sort of an advanced skillset in that way is when you hear people talking about the industry and what their expectations are, listening for ways that you could be an asset to them and, then sort of plugging yourself in and playing up your skillset, that, again, could be an asset to them.
That’s an incredibly useful skillset. We call that the plug-and-play strategy. You ask open-ended questions to that person. Asking their opinion on a very variety of matters related to the work that they do, and then listen for ways that you can find you would be helpful to them. And, by showing that you’re listening and showing that you’re being responsive and, strategically plugging yourself in, actually starts to build out that opportunity sort of reservoir very quickly.
So we see that happen quite a bit. And, again, that’s a little bit more of, of an advanced skill, but, but we’ve had some younger clients grab a hold of that strategy real fast and uh, it, it has sent them very well for opportunities.
But yeah, absolutely. Targeting organizations and companies within your network, thinking about the industries you wanna be at and, also keeping in mind as one’s thinking. you know, the next sort of phase of their career growth, thinking through what’s important to them. This also goes back to that pattern of excellence idea where when you can think through what’s important to me in a job, do I want a job that’s a fully remote position, a hybrid position in the office position? So much has changed since covid. These are real questions. Do I want, a position that has a little bit more flexibility? I can telework as needed. Do I want a company where it’s very top-down bureaucracy? Some people thrive in that, while others don’t want it.
So, really, Thinking critically about those elements can help people better understand ultimately where they wanna be, and then look for the companies that essentially fit that profile. And I think all too often younger clients don’t think about that cuz they’re like, must make money, must make money. Mom and dad kicking me off the, you know, the doll.
But when they, when they spend an extra little bit of time thinking through the profile of the company in conjunction with a stronger set of documents in conjunction with networking, in conjunction with the pattern of excellence. All of these things work together to help that person actually land in a good place that makes sense for them and their career growth.
Sofie: Actually, thank you for mentioning that because that’s something that I, thinking back on now, I have probably failed way too many times than I would like to admit. I was just doing that whole bulk application, applying to everywhere in my industry that I am semi-interested in the specific area that the organization’s covering.
But I don’t think about, is this a remote position? Is this hybrid? What’s the company culture like? Am I going to thrive in this company culture? How long has this organization been around? Are there still dinosaurs leading this organization? Is it a younger organization?
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, these are real questions and you know, we’ve had clients who they saw the red flag in the company and they were coming to us saying, well, I see the red flag, but I, you know, I gotta start paying my health insurance. Like these are big adulting questions, right? And so they saw the red flags. They ignored, ignored the red flags, they took the job, and then they were coming back within a few weeks, a few months, saying this was the wrong opportunity. I should have listened. So if you can. Check in with yourself on, okay, this is the profile of the company that I want, but I also need to look for those red flags that my gut is saying, “do not go for this, you are going to regret this”.
You’re gonna save yourself actually a lot of time on the backend from having to redo another job search, to having to explain why it was a short duration in a particular role. Listen to your gut and surround yourself with a team of support. I mean, that’s, that’s sort of the beauty of the career industry being what it is these days. We’re here to be helpful. We’re here to make sure that you’re not dependent on us. We don’t want that, but we wanna help you know how to lead your own job search and be, and to do so in a way where you’re in charge, you’re making good decisions, you have a team of support to back you up and sort of call you out as needed, but then also make sure that you are prepared for all stages of that job search and that career growth.
Sofie: On that note, thank you so much for coming onto the podcast, and for sharing your wisdom, and I definitely learned quite a bit in this conversation, so next time I apply out to positions, I will be sure to keep all of that in mind. And thank you for the absolutely wonderful tips and for your time.
Emily: No, absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, and I will, I’m sure we’ll chat soon. Thanks again.
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