Tailor your resume for job search success

Hone your application by telling your unique story.


Filed to: Job search, resume

Man sitting outdoors and using a laptop

The No. 1 question I receive from GCSAA members who are looking to advance their careers is, “How do I set myself apart among many qualified candidates and land that next job?” Although we could go in numerous directions to unpack responses to this important question, in this month’s Career column, we will discuss the key overarching theme that will get you on the winning path: Tell your story.

Mindset: Conducting a job search starts by viewing your job search documents and message as an opportunity to communicate your story — your unique story — and how it leads to the particular golf facility you are targeting. Why are you different, better and uniquely the best fit with its leadership team? Beyond your experience, education and skills, what do you offer as a person, leader and team member? 

Cover letter: Send a memorable introductory letter. This is a letter, not a list, so the primary goals are to introduce yourself, express why you want to be part of that organization and give insight into you as a person. When I receive a cover letter and it jumps right into experience, facts and figures, it doesn’t draw me in as a reader. Give the hiring committee reasons to see you as a valued and supportive member of its leadership team first, and then move on to your career highlights and wins.

Résumé: A résumé is a marketing tool, not just a list of job titles and tasks. First, I encourage you to create a section at the top of your résumé to highlight what you, and uniquely you, offer to a prospective golf facility that directly connects to it. What are you passionate about? What are your standards? Why do you get up every morning and head to the golf course? Go beyond the experience and skills the other qualified candidates will possess. Give a glimpse into you as a person and professional, not just a turfgrass expert. Characterize your career, leadership qualities and ability to provide an outstanding golf experience for your customer/golfers/members.

Interview: This is the most critical phase to tell your distinctive story during the job search process. First and foremost, realize that all the candidates being interviewed are qualified and can do the job well. To tell your story and be memorable, start with your answer to the first question. You will probably be asked an open-ended first question, such as, “Tell us a little bit about yourself,” or, “Why did you apply for this job?” This is your chance to give them insight into you as a person. Articulate high points in your life and career, and then end your answer by bringing it back to the audience and how your story has led to that golf facility. Express why you want to be part of that particular organization and how you would be a great fit with its leadership team.  

Portfolio: An effective way to tell your story and stand out amid a crowded field of candidates is to supplement the traditional career documents with a portfolio. This can take a variety of forms, but basically it is a way to provide context and additional insight into you as a professional and person. Most candidates interviewing for high-end golf industry jobs will present a portfolio as part of their job search message. Additionally, you can list LinkedIn, a personal website or a blog on your contact information to enhance your story. 

Bring your story to life in your portfolio with narratives such as how you got your start in golf, what you love about the game of golf, why you are passionate about your job, and what is important in your life, such as family and community involvement. Focus on the key qualities golf industry hiring managers seek, such as teamwork, communications, attitude, integrity and leadership. I cannot emphasize enough that a portfolio is not all about turf projects. Yes, one or two pages can highlight agronomic projects, but beyond that, a portfolio should be about you and how you will operate as part of the leadership team to drive business success for that organization. 

The next time you conduct a job search, go ahead and tell your story — your unique, compelling story — and let yourself shine through.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, has been a career consultant and speaker with GCSAA since 2005 and specializes in golf and turf industry careers. Rau is a frequent speaker at national, regional and local GCSAA conferences and teaches GCSAA webinars.