Hopefully, you have already decided on your objective and drawn up your marketing plan by now. You should have a good 20-30 second “elevator” speech, a self-description sharing what value you offer (with concrete examples) and what you are looking for. NOW, it is time to think about a resume.
The resume is a key component of you marketing plan, but it has only one specific purpose and one general purpose.
The specific purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. That’s it. It is to sell yourself sufficiently on paper so a person wants to talk to you. You want your reader to react like Will Smith in the movie Independence Day when he first flies the alien craft into the sky. He shouts, “I got to get me one of these!” But remember, no resume ever got hired. Only people get hired. And in that sense, the resume is not necessarily better than a business card. But it is what many people will look at first. You want to make an impression.
Generally, you also want to leave an impression. A resume is a selling tool, and the thing you are selling is yourself. You want it to hook your reader and be memorable. The general purpose is to hook long-term, to sit in the mind of the prospective employer. When they start judging all of the other resumes on their desk to yours, you know you have a winner.
You know the basic format: objective/ profile, work history, education, interests if they relate or add value to what you have to offer. I am not going to detail all of that. There are people who do that for a living. They will even write it for you if you want to pay them. The only thing I will say here is the most common expectation is a chronological resume and without any serious unexplained gaps in your history.
Again, these notes are culled from a vast variety of experts who have spoken to my transitional ministry group at church, sharing every other week for over two years. I don’t claim to be the expert, myself. I am merely the reporter. With that said, let me share these thoughts:
1. You don’t need 20 different resumes. You need one. (The why and when to tailor the basic one I will cover at another time). But if you have done your homework and are focused on your objective, any up-front tailoring should point at that objective. You should have identified the companies and job or acceptable jobs that you are after. Point yourself in that direction and make a resume that supports and promotes you in the direction you are pointed.
2. KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). You would be surprised (or maybe not) to know how many resumes say way more than necessary. They ramble, sort of like blog posts, and never seem to get to the point. EDIT. As my father used to say, a good writer knows what to put into a story. The best writers know what to leave out.
3. Keep everything quantifiable: % and #s talk about results, not necessarily skills and experience. Skills and experience are best shown by results. As we say in the writing business, show, don’t tell. And please, oh please don’t give an ingredient list: Problem solver, good communication skills, excellent customer service skills, etc. Save the ingredient list and those incomprehensible ingredients for the back of the Cool Whip tub.
After all, what sounds better? I have excellent customer service skills, OR, In ten years at XXX I never heard about one complaint, but I got seven hand-written letters thanking the company for my service, care for the customer and dedication to the task.
4. Having said that, it is important that what you put into your resume be verifiable Be honest. You will be found out.
5. And this may be most important: Create your brand on your resume (the value you bring to them). This is your one opportunity to control how you are perceived. Paint yourself in the most positive light and focus on the benefits they will get if they hire you (as opposed to their 300 other resumes).
6. Consider resume cards. You can carry them easily so when someone says, “send me your resume,” you can give them a card while you write down their e-mail to send the full enchilada. Also, you never know when you might be on that elevator. Giving your elevator speech is nice but follow-up with a card is better.