Resume Writing – From the Beginning

I recently participated in a resume review where a mid-career business manager presented me with a 6-page resume. It was obvious he was proud of his effort, and I had to commend him on the thoroughness of the document, as it detailed jobs, activities, successes, awards, and other achievements starting from his first part-time college job through his last position.

However, returning to our “wardrobe” analogy from a prior post, it was like he was trying to wear every piece of clothing he owned all at the same time! So, I had the delicate job of helping him try to shed the many, many unnecessary layers of history and get to a reasonably attired resume. This “disrobing” of an over-dressed resume is not without challenges, for most people have a real attachment to their work history!

The point I start from is explaining that a resume is not a document where you journal of all the work you’ve ever done…that’s what a diary is for! A resume is a document that helps someone else envision you working in their office. Let me say that a different way–your resume should be a document that I can use to see the potential of you working with me to help solve my problems.  And no, I don’t want to waste my time reading 6 pages of your career history…I want to know, in 2 minutes or less, what talents you have that I can use to address my issues and solve my challenges. Your resume needs to be about me, not you!

So, let’s cover the “big picture” points of resume writing so we can get you focused on your new writing approach to creating an effective, brief, targeted resume.

Your purpose for writing a resume is to:

  • Help you focus on and articulate your career achievements, awards, and successes
  • Build a marketing document used to sell you and your talents to a chosen audience
  • Assemble a tool that can help you land an interview when placed in the proper hands
  • Allow you to leave a lasting impression with the interviewer after the interview
  • Provide a structured document that interviewers can use to facilitate the interview

Your resume is NOT:

  • A complete history of your life or work career
  • A mere description of tasks performed in prior jobs
  • A job application where you must list all work experience back to your first job after High School
  • A substitute for face-to-face networking or attending career-related functions
  • A vehicle to express your dissatisfaction with prior jobs or managers
  • The same document that you wrote and used 10 years ago
  • Ever finished!

Bottom Line: Get your priorities in line…write your new resume as if you were trying to detail how your activities and successes in your prior jobs relate directly to issues I need you to address in my firm. Write your resume to essentially answer or demonstrate that your resume answers all the needs that I’ve put into my job posting. Write it for me…not for you!

. . . .

For a full list of my Job Hunter articles, see the Index on my Backlog tab.

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