Resumé repair can actually be a very straightforward process, if you turn the resumé writing process on its head.
I know, you dread updating your resumé, but the state it’s in right now is not going to open any new doors for you. I know it’s tempting just to pay someone to do it for you and yes, my team can certainly do that. But it can be a costly exercise and with a little guidance you can repair your resumé yourself, with VERY little pain.
Here’s what not to do, when resumé writing
- List all the things you’re great at (you’ll bore, distract and appear over-qualified)
- List all the responsibilities in every job you’ve ever had (too much effort for you and for the reader)
- Leave it until there’s a job you want (if you only update every 5 years, you’ll forget and leave out the best bits)
This is the normal process for resumé writing though, right? So how do you cut through and change it? How do you find the time to make it work for you?
What role are you after?
Before you get to updating your resumé, get clear on the kind of role you really want. Otherwise it’s near impossible to leave things out – you’ll be worried you might be closing off opportunities. Evaluate what you’ve enjoyed most about the roles you’ve had and the skills that you use. The ones that give you most joy? Those are the skills that align with your values and those are the ones that should make up your dream job.
If you’ve been keeping a Pride Diary, that will help enormously when it comes to updating your resumé. It will show you what achievements have made your heart sing and your boss happy. Missed that one? Check it out HERE.
Your next career move should have some challenge, for sure. That’s what keeps it interesting, what keeps you growing. But your past experience (ie joy) will give you solid insight into where you’re moving for future fulfilment.
When you’re choosing a direction for your next steps, the focus is all on you.
But when you sit down to update your resumé? That’s when the ‘turn it on it’s head’ happens.
The focus at that point is all about them.
The Simple Way to Update Your Resumé
I’ve helped thousands of people to update their own resumés and my team and I have written thousands more resumés too, for those that simply don’t have the time. These strategies deliver results consistently.
Focus on what they want to see, not on what you want to say
If, like most, you start with a list of all you’ve done, you’re emotionally attached to all that hard work and it’s hard to edit bits out. So don’t start with what you’ve done. Start with the key skills they’re looking for.
Ask yourself: What are the core competencies required for this job?
Then list out the examples of where you’ve demonstrated those competencies, in each of your recent roles. These experiences are going to be the focus for your resumé, not the key responsibilities list pasted from your PD. They don’t have to be huge, super-impressive examples. In fact, if the examples you list surpass the level of the role, you’re going to get knocked back before you even get to interview.
Ideally your resumé should show that you can do 80% of the job you’re applying for. You should be able to show signs of being able to do the other 20%, but if you can do 100% of the role before you start, you won’t get the job. It will be assumed that you’ll get bored within 6 months and want to move on.
Make your most saleable asset prominent
Your past experience is most likely a great match for your next role. Many resumés take the reader on a long winding path, so that some of their best stuff is on page 3. Sadly, the reader won’t get to page 3 if you’re not grabbing their attention in the first 3 seconds. So be sure that somewhere on your front page, you have a short list of your most recent / most relevant job tiles, with company and dates listed beside them.
Match your level of creative design to the industry and role you’re targeting
If you’re in a conservative industry, traditional role, then your resumé is going to be very professional-looking. If you’re claiming to be an innovator in any way, your resumé really needs to breathe that. You need to show it, not just say it.
How far do you go? Use discretion. If you’re in a creative job applying for a role with a paint company, you can print your resumé on the outside of a paint can and hand deliver it. A recent mining industry applicant buried their resumé and sent the head recruiter a shovel and instructions. Risky move, but it was calculated, based on the organisation and the innovator they claimed to want. The application absolutely hit the mark for that role and that business. When 99% of applications are received online, the use of physical props and social media can be effective attention-grabbers when used appropriately.
Sounds like you need a new resumé for every application?
A tweak each time, asbolutely yes. But realistically, most of the jobs you apply for will be very similar, requiring the same set of core skills that you have, at a higher level of challenge. While you’re applying for similar roles, your resumé won’t need a complete overhaul.
Choose peak brain – time to update it.
Updating your resumé requires some creativity, and that’s tough when you’re tired. What’s your most productive time of day? Is it 10pm Friday night with a wine, Pyjama Planner? Go to it. But if you’re at your best early morning, then rise earlier to get an hour on your computer for a couple of days. One morning to update, one to review. You’ll do your best work and your resumé will do its job.
Where to from here?
If you’re still stuck- short on either time or inspiration, our team of professional Resumé Writers can certainly help. We can coach you though it, or do it for you. Not sure which is the best way to go? Let’s chat. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start a conversation. We’ll ask you to send your resumé and tell us what sort of role you’re targeting. Then we’ll give you some feedback and make some suggestions for you, moving forward.
Cath Nolan is a Corporate Coach and serial business founder. With over 15 years, several thousand participants, hundreds of global brands and a long list of professional speaking gigs in her experience list, Cath’s focus is helping individuals to become the best of themselves, to achieve what’s most important to them. To see more, including free resources, visit cathnolan.com