The dreaded resume! Every job seeker desperately needs one but no one wants to write one. Why? Because it’s agony.
The irony is that we fear our resume—the very thing that is our entry ticket to the job we want. Since we resist the things we fear, we put off writing it or suffer major distress when we must. Our concern: “What if my resume isn’t good enough!”
Our “resumophobia” has three main causes:
• Frustrating uncertainty about what recruiters/businesses want
• Doubt or confusion about the value of what we’ve done
• Lack of confidence in our ability to write it “right”
These are legitimate and paralyzing reasons. But we cannot succumb to them. Why? Because—no resume...no interview. No interview...no chance.
The resume is a rite of passage in nearly every job search.
There are lots of great books and experts to teach you how to craft a great resume. What I’m offering are insights that will unfreeze your thinking, so you can get started.
Your resume is packaging.
It is not a biography, a job description, or a sales pitch. It’s your box!
The content of a good resume showcases concrete results that you have achieved in other jobs. It contains the products (results) that you created. So when you write your resume, make sure it is about important outcomes you delivered. Not everything you ever did—just the most significant results.
Your resume is a picture.
A resume is art and you want the viewer to be absorbed by yours.
Great artists control the eye of the viewer. Great resumes do that too. The screener’s first scan needs to spot something of interest. That means you need to:
• Position important facts where the eye falls.
Don’t make screeners struggle to find what they’re looking for. When they come to your resume, they will scan down the middle. So make sure that their eyes will land on the words, job titles, and achievements they are looking for. Highlight in bold the words that link what you accomplished to the duties listed in the job posting.
• Create white space so the eye has relief.
Wading through resumes is visually exhausting. White space is relief so use a font size that isn’t too small. Avoid dense copy since it sends the message that you couldn’t identify your priority accomplishments and don’t know how to write concisely. Use bullets, avoid paragraphs.
• Include interesting information that keeps the eye reading.
Everyone brings their own uniqueness to their jobs. Capturing that in a resume differentiates us from other candidates. So be sure to mention a fresh approach you may have taken to a routine work process or to an initiative that you led.
The sections called “interests,” “activities,” and “affiliations” are your big finish. Interesting tidbits there often turn out to be the “big opening” during an interview.
Your resume is your voice.
The tone of your written words becomes the sound of your voice. That’s the only glimpse of your personality that the screener will get from your resume. When your words are clean and clear, precise and easy, they create a sense of your nature, your confidence, and your approach to work.
• The screener is your audience
• Your purpose is to provide an honest, factual story about your work life
If resume writing still intimidates you, if you are having a difficult time sorting through all that you have done, or if you have some unfortunate “wrinkles” in your work history, investing in some professional assistance may be in order.
The bottom line is that it’s always a good idea to have an up-to-date resume on file, especially in these times. Enough said!