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This Is the Best Way to Make Your Resume Stand out

January 21, 2016, 3:25 PM UTC
Courtesy of Monsanto

The Fortune 500 Insider Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Steve Mizell, executive vice president of human resources at Monsanto, has answered the question: How do you make your resume stand out?

Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out in your work life, getting noticed in a competitive job market can be tough. So I encourage people to think about how they market themselves from the perspective of the companies they’d like to work for.

What’s the big challenge many of these businesses are facing? Change.

I’ve seen this in my own career at Monsanto (MON). When I joined the company back in 2004, we had just become 100% focused on agriculture, a decision made based on our strengths in seed breeding and biotechnology. Today, we’re transforming into a total agricultural solutions provider, harnessing the power of big data and predictive analytics to help farmers get better harvests while using resources more efficiently.

This type of shift in focus is hardly unique to Monsanto or the agriculture industry. Technology and other market changes are fundamentally changing the way businesses everywhere function. That means job seekers have to dig deeper to understand the companies to which they are applying. So as you prepare for your resume-writing process, first find out what obstacles the business has overcome recently. Look for clues in annual reports, organization publications, and business news, and then reflect on aspects of your own experience that relate to each specific organization.

No doubt about it, change can be tremendously exciting. But it’s also incredibly challenging in a number of ways, including from a human resources perspective. For instance, when my talent acquisition team evaluates candidates for an open position, they’re not only considering immediate business needs, but they’re also thinking about the skills or aptitudes we might need as our business continues to change.


This means the days of applicants presenting themselves as long lists of past accomplishments are over. Sure, what you’ve done in previous roles is still important. But as EVP of human resources at a dynamic, fast-changing global company, I’m more concerned about what you can do right now and what you’ll do next.

That’s why I encourage all jobseekers, regardless of career stage, to think of themselves as the solution to a particular challenge. Don’t leave this to chance. Whether you’re preparing a printed resume or an online profile, you have to be absolutely clear about what you want to do and why you can do it.

So be very specific and concise about your background and most relevant skills. And demonstrate your longer-term upside by emphasizing your ability to learn, be coached, and grow into new roles and responsibilities. At change-driven companies, successful employees are expected to have many different careers within their careers. At Monsanto, for instance, that might mean starting your career in sales, then moving into strategy, and then into a corporate engagement position. Agility needs to be evident on your resume.

Positioning yourself for the job market is a process that should begin long before you launch your next job search. In every role, you should be thinking about how you can increase your marketability. Seek out opportunities to grow. Take on stretch assignments. Join cross-functional teams. Take advantage of the employee resource groups your company offers. And build stronger networks—internally and externally.

Businesses that do the best in this era of change are the ones that can anticipate needs and then develop effective solutions before their competitors. The same is true for jobseekers looking to land the most sought-after positions.

Steve Mizell is executive vice president of human resources at St. Louis-based Monsanto, an agriculture company committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world.