The Purpose of your resume
You should only build a resume for one purpose – to get an interview. Keep this purpose in mind as you read the article below:
Why did I say ‘build’ a resume and not ‘write’ a resume?
A resume is not a story, it is not written with stream of consciousness like a novel. Resumes are built in a purposeful, strategic way to sell your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. The best resumes turn your Tasks and Responsibilities into Accomplishments and Results
A resume should not be purely chronological – that is a big mistake. I don’t know anyone who has had a consistent rise in significant accomplishment over a long career. Most people, including you, have nuggets of brilliance – accomplished at many different times throughout your life.
Your resume should be a highlight reel not an autobiography. The strategy is to match significant keywords, (Knowledge Skills and Abilities), to your accomplishments. You can’t do this with a chronological resume,
The only purpose a chronology has in today’s job market is to help the reader understand when you moved from job to job and which job you had first, second, and third. The chronology doesn’t explain a thing about who you are and what you accomplished. Neither does your longevity. Some people accomplish more in six months than others do in five years.
Never confuse a job title with an accomplishment.
Resumes must be functional to attract attention. Many say it’s the first third of the page that sells – if you can’t grab the reader at the top, the list of facts at the bottom will never be read. That is why it is critical to sell your key accomplishments and KSA,s up front.
Use the following checklist to help you think outside the margins of your resume:
1. Prepare a profile that matches your background to the job description.
2. Prioritize your tasks and responsibilities to match the job description.
3. Only list tasks that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
4. Select tasks that you can back up – preferably with a strong accomplishment.
5. Use a qualifying line to describe how you were selected for the job.
ABC tech Firm – 2006-2007
Hired by the V.P of Documentation to improve RFP efficiency and develop a document reuse policy.
This last line adds a little zing because it gives the reader some insight into your story. Be prepared to add more details at an interview. This short descriptor can help you build interest in your story. First, you name drop a little. In other words, you tell the reader who hired you and the title they command.
Second, the reader/interviewer may want to know how you increased efficiency and how you developed that reuse policy. The strategy is to place ideas and questions in the readers head. Just make sure you have the answers.
Your resume must be constructed – ‘built’ in such a way that it structures the conversation before you get to the interview.
The Interview process is like dating. You wouldn’t sit down on a first date and say – “let me tell you what my worst qualities are”. Yet, people do this all the time on their resumes.
Now, let’s continue with the checklist:
6. List all tasks in the active voice. For example Developed, Initiated, Directed, Organized
7. Never say ‘responsible for’ just use the action word.
8. List your accomplishments before you build your resume.
I guarantee that this is the most difficult part of the process.
9. Select the strongest accomplishment and place it after your keyword table- (more on this in my next article), and before your chronological list.
Wait a minute – I thought you said chronology doesn’t’ matter. I didn’t say that. What I meant was it is the least important part – but an essential price of admission.
10. Identify your Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA’s), by using the Occupational ONET Online database. This is an excellent repository developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and contains occupational information that can be an invaluable resource for education and research.
When you are ready, please visit http://www.ONETOnline.org
Now, lets continue.
11. Smooth out small gaps in employment by using annual dates i.e., (2006-2007) instead of the month and date.
12. List awards and citations/achievements only if they compliment the job you are seeking.
13. A note on Education. Include all completed degrees, regardless of subject matter. All employers value education. One caveat: Don’t include Certifications that do not apply to the industry in question.
Example: I am a professional writer and in addition to my B.S. and M.A. I am a certified professional Coder (CPC). This is a health care certification. The only time I include it on my resume is when I am approached about a writing opportunity that requires some understanding of health care issues.
Finally, remember that building a resume is one of the most difficult jobs you will do – if its done right. Its not easy to capture the essence of a persons talents and abilities in one or two pages, especially if you are a mid-career professional. There is no recipe. The checklist I provided is only a guide. Always practice good judgment and use what works for you.
About the Author
Vincent Gomory is a professional resume writer, business process writer, and proposal writer with ten years of expereince in the staffing solutions industry. In addition, Vincent spent six years at Price Waterhouse as a technical documentation specialist focused on audit, research and technology.
Email Vincent at email@example.com. View his profile at
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