So, let me know if this sounds familiar. Either you’ve decided that you want a new job or someone else has decided it for you. First few days, you try to get it together. And then you pull out your old resume. Fun times, right? Exactly how you imagined your Monday...then Tuesday...then Wednesday...Then maybe "I’ll just do this next week".
OK, so then now back to Monday....Your papers are stacked, your laptop is charged, you’re geared up and ready to go. OR...maybe not, but either way, thought I'd share a few pointers.
1. Ditch the "Objective" and use a headline instead
Doesn’t “Highly-qualified writer and trainer, specializing in leadership and career development" sound so much better than: “Seeking a position where I can use my strong writing, training, and interpersonal skills”? Your headline is like a preview of coming attractions – the spotlight that helps draw people in.
2.Create impact with a strong list of "Highlights"
Again, you’re selling what makes you unique, and what better way than painting a picture? Maybe you’ve created new programs or spearheaded some really huge projects. Maybe you’re known for quota-shattering sales. Maybe you were promoted in less than a year. Maybe you have a particular track record or quality. It all depends on the position you're targeting. Managers, for example, may mention strategies (or solutions they delivered) that improved or helped feed the bottom line. Or perhaps programs or methods they developed to mentor or inspire their employees. The key is for them to see you as a specialist - someone who can stand out and shine, while also being part of their team!
3. Make sure your format is clean and consistent
Most recruiters scan through hundreds, maybe thousands, of resumes a day. So it’s important to make their life easier. Whatever format you use, be consistent.
4. List the accomplishments you acheived in each position
This is extremely important – because the thing is most candidates (at least the ones that pass the machine) are presumably qualified for the job – at least they are on paper. It’s expected that you can all do the work. The question is: Why you and not him or her? What unique brand do you bring to the table? What makes you become the buzz in the office (in a good way)? In other words: How can you help keep the ship up and running - and relieve a little stress from the crew?
5. Highlight your overall impact, not just your worth to a particular company
Yes. You may list your work history, but make sure it translates across companies. If you use a method exclusive to a particular company, be sure to include the contribution or impact you delivered. For example, if you say: “Conducted 500 DSR reviews (yes, I just made that up),” that might not mean as much as saying “Directly impacted internal and external performance, conducting over 500 DSR (product efficiency) reviews, significantly enhancing customer and client satisfaction and increasing operational efficiency". Instead of looking like you did what you were told – just like everyone else – it highlights your ability to make bold contributions.
6. Don’t be unarmed by your "demons"
If you’re worried about something, address it. For example, if you’re worried about ageism, attack the likely root of the problem (not your age, but their perception of it). Maybe they think you lack new and innovative ideas. Maybe they’re worried about your comfort with technology. This may also apply for job gaps. They might wonder if you can hit the ground running or if you've lost a little bit of your edge. This can also be addressed. When I lost a year for medical reasons, I highlighted my involvment with groups, fundraising, and events related to Crohns and Colitis. I also did freelance resume writing and attended workshops and telephone seminars. Whatever the gap or the fear of perception, build in accomplishments that help prove them wrong. If they're not wrong, start finding new ways to change that. Maybe you can start your own blog or do something that will show your initiative (take a class, volunteer to help sharpen your skills). Also, as for the age thing, and this may seem like a contridiction, there’s no need to put your graduation date, if it happened over 20 years ago.
7. Consider a visual CV or direct link to your LinkedIn Profile
People like making connections. Instead of just submitting a resume, consider creating a visual CV – or online resume. You can include the link in your paper resume. It can include everything from an introduction video to samples of the work that you do – essentially your online portfolio. Check out: www.visualcv.com
8. Pay attention to key words and phrases
One thing about keywords: the machines have gotten hip to the game. You have to do more than throw in a few words. You actually have to use them in context. They can tell if you’ve been doing it for 1 year or 25 years. Pay attention to the context you're using.
9. Show your understanding of the industry you're in
One great way to do this is to check out some trade magazines. Also check out groups and associations in your industry. Most of them have their own websites, and most have their own group (page) on LinkedIn. Start to pay attention to topics, conversations, and skills that customers or employers seem to like. This is a great way to start jogging your memory - to remind yourself of what you have done. Another great resource is continuing education catalogues. Course descriptions have their own hidden treasure. They not only showcase common industry terms, practices and innovations, but they do a great job of putting it into words. Again, become familiar with the language and terms. You'll often find a name for a skill you've been using, giving you and your brand extra polish.
10. Keep in mind that you're talking to people!
I know that I mentioned machines, but don't forget about warm-blooded people. Don't strip your resume or yourself of personality. If you're an advid rock climber, include it. If you run a marathon every fall, highlight it. It adds variation and depth. It also helps you to maintain your life balance. And perhaps it leads to a program you can bring to the company - a great way to position yourself as a leader, even if you already are!
...OK, so these are just a few tips. Feeling better? Relieved? Or perhaps you're still staring at papers. I hear you! Enhancing your resume is challenging. But here’s the good news: I am also a resume writer, with quite a wide range of experience. So, of course you can do it all on your own, or you can call me and we can work on it together! I can also walk you through some interview strategies and ways to start expanding your network. It's a simple step that can make your life easier! Visit www.innersparkcoaching.com to request a free 30-minute consultation.