One of the real issues with resumes today is that they often only reflect a rather small portion of a person’s true skills and talents. With just 1-2 pages it’s clear that you can only say so much about yourself before you run out of room. The content of resumes today are more sterile than in years past when you might have included hobbies or family information to give the recruiter a chance to see beyond just the minimal details of your jobs, accomplishments, and education.
Your resume is one of a thousand that a recruiter might be sorting through to fill a job opportunity. And assuming that you’ve done your best with formatting, creative writing, use of keywords, and focusing on your successes and achievements, what can you do to give your resume the edge over the others? How do you make your resume stand out so the recruiter gets a more insightful view of you and your talent? What might inform or entice the recruiter to pick your resume over others?
One answer is to include information on your resume that expands your image beyond your job history and lets the recruiter see you as a leader, a facilitator, a thinker–and not just at the job place, but in life! These are your actions and responsibilities outside of the office (no, not hobbies, but you’re getting the idea) that help you to excel and to grow. These are the “hidden qualities” that might give your resume the little extra something that puts it not just in the prospective resume stack, but puts it on top of the resume stack.
Pursue that Next Degree
In today’s job market the employer can cherry-pick through hundreds of resumes. Many job postings are upping-the-ante by requesting advanced degrees even if the position doesn’t truly need one. If you don’t have an advanced degree (or any degree, for that matter), then sign up for a degree program with a local or on-line accredited university. This way you can put something like “Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Big University, Somecity, Mystate – 2013 (estimated)” in the education line. The software that scans for degrees will see the degree listed in your education section and will pass the resume along to the human…they can then assess if a “degree in progress” is enough to warrant an interview. But without that extra education entry on the resume, it may never make it to the human for consideration.
Provide a Link to Your Blog
Do you have a particular skill that would be of interest to a prospective employer? Does your resume not give you a chance to showcase your skills? If you could get recruiters or interviewers to read a few of your better technical papers on a specific topic, would it help? Well then, start blogging!
You can set up your own personal blog where you show your expertise by writing on your topic or you can contribute to other public blogs on the topic. Personally, I think posting your complete thoughts on your own blog site and providing links back to it when posting on others’ blogs is the best way to show off your talents. Yes, if you’d rather do this with a static web page, you could, but that limits showing off your “discussion” talents, which might interest the recruiter. Once you have about 20-25 unique, well written posts, put the link to your blog in your resume in the “Other activities or memberships” section (or even mention it in your cover letter). Oh, make sure this blog is strictly business…no personal discussions here!
Organizations and Activities (Social and Professional)
Over the last many years the resume has lost its personal touch (years ago we used to mention our favorite books, hobbies, travel, etc.) and it now shows strictly the “business you” with nothing much from your personal life. And while listing things such as political organizations, religious groups, or personal hobbies is still taboo, there is currently a push to have resumes show how you choose to professionally develop and personally enrich yourself.
If you volunteer with any organizations that have social, economical, self-development, or environmental benefits, such as ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, Toastmasters, or Scouting, then list these activities. Even better, find a way to get into a leadership position (treasurer, events coordinator, etc.) in these groups — this is a definite plus with recruiters and hiring managers. Of course a professional organization is even better, so make sure you join, attend, and take on a responsibility with professional or industry groups so you can list 1 or 2 of them on your resume.
And for those of you that are unemployed, here’s the great thing about these activities. Unlike your accomplishments at the job which are mostly “past tense”, these are things you can actually start at any time (employed or not) and get them on your resume. For example, it was during my last job search that I started on my advanced degree and began attending Toastmasters…and these two points often came up during my interviews.
Bottom Line: It’s not just your past tasks, accomplishments, and successes that prospective employers want to read about, but also how you have become a more talented, well-rounded person — someone they want to interview and possibly add to their staff. Make sure your resume lists your continuing degree pursuit (or at least coursework), organizations that you have taken a leadership role with, and how you are sharing and honing your professional skills through publications or discussions (online or even in print) in your area of expertise.
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