Few feelings are worse than the gnawing fear that your resume just isn’t cutting it.
Here are some common culprits:
-You send the resume out for job postings which you KNOW you’re well-qualified for….and hear nothing back.
-You initiate dialogue with a hiring manager or a potential boss at a company, they request the resume, you send it over with high hopes…and radio silence.
-Your resume is actually generating some interviews and hiring activity…but instead of smoothly moving towards an offer, you get trapped in an endless cycle of defending your work history and perceived shortcomings.
The phrase, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe” is absolutely true when it comes to the hiring process, and critical to understand about your resume. Your resume needs to establish BASIC CREDIBILITY and FIT for a role, while also providing a line of sight into the UNIQUE VALUE only you can provide…and that’s it! It’s not meant to be a carbon copy of a job posting, it’s not meant to be a lengthy recounting of every job you’ve held, and it’s definitely not something which needs to be reinvented every time you apply for a position!
Here’s how to fight back the fears and regain perspective when it comes to your resume.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR CORE BRAND
Leading off with your experience, as 99% of job seekers do within their resume, is fundamentally ineffective. Look, no employer cares about your experience unless you first give them a reason WHY.
Ask yourself the following: how can the strongest skills I possess be used to move things forward for an organization?
So for example, it’s not about how deep your digital marketing skills are, but the fact that you can help a company establish a strong “voice” and brand presence across both traditional AND digital platforms, and generate massive demand and excitement prior to product launches.
It’s not about how strong your project management skills are, but the fact that you’re the one who’s routinely tapped to bring at-risk hardware and software initiatives to completion on a global scale, while also putting in place the continuous improvement and data analytics measures which will support the organization in the long-term.
I’d recommend replacing a catch-all Summary or Profile section at the start of the resume for a few bullet points which highlight some of these forward-thinking aspects. Not only will it help you generate more hiring activity, it will also help to DE-COMMODITIZE you- which is essential if you’re serious about avoiding the whole, “How do you stack up against…” train of conversation during interviews.
Also Read: How to Create an Age-Proof Executive Brand
STEP 2: ADDRESS KEYWORDS ACROSS MULTIPLE FRONTS
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have gotten much smarter. It’s not enough to just list the major keywords that are being sought after, but also demonstrate them contextually within the Professional Experience section of your resume. Here’s a “fast path” towards addressing this:
-Hop over to LinkedIn and spend some time pulling up the profiles of people who have the job titles you’re currently interested in, and work in the industry (or industries) you’re focused on. Pay close attention to the most frequently endorsed-for skills and jot down those which you are also strong in. This is your “cheat sheet” for identifying the most relevant keywords to highlight within the resume.
-Distill it down to as many keywords as you’re comfortable with. While you can add up to 50 skills on a LinkedIn Profile, I’d recommend going WAY more conservative with the resume and sticking to somewhere between 10 and 15. Remember: you also have to DEMONSTRATE these contextually! Create a section near the start of your resume, AFTER highlighting the core branding points in Step 1, with these keywords.
-Finally, go through the major positions you’ve listed within the Professional Experience section of the resume and make sure you highlight either an accomplishment (preferred) or a major responsibility at least once for every major keyword you’ve listed. For your strongest capabilities, feel free to highlight over and over again at different points within your history.
STEP 3: WEAVE A CAREER NARRATIVE
Randomness is kryptonite to a resume. Avoid it by looking at your ENTIRE work history and asking yourself: what’s the overall journey? How did these successive roles grow me as an individual and professional, and why do they set me up in a uniquely powerful way for what I’m currently after? Mix it up, boldly highlight those successes and areas of expertise which are non-obvious, and tell your story. It’s the greatest asset you have in a job search, and it’s the best hidden-in-plain-sight secret to a successful resume.