Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Resume (...30)

I've never been shy to request suggestions, or for that matter, direct instruction on how to edit my resume.  I frankly admit I lose perspective on what works well when it comes to making my own resume look good or communicate what I need it to.  I can spot others' poorly edited resumes since I've had to review handfuls of them over the years.  But in those cases I know what I'm looking for so I sift through to find which candidates tell me what I need to know.

So, when a super savvy friend who works in the HR industry offered to review my resume, I jumped at the chance.  First she took a look at it and then asked if I was open to feedback. YES PLEASE.  Reviewing your own resume with an objective eye is tough.  Having my friend's feedback was not.  She offered her ideas and examples from her own resume as well as her philosophy on the overall approach to make it work better.

Here are her directions:
  1. Add an objective or summary:  Think long and hard about an objective or summary to tell employers who you are and what you're seeking.  Highlight what you want someone to get from your resume (or what you ultimately want to be doing) and focus on summarizing those skills.
  2. Move education to the bottom:   When you've been out of school long enough, this is considered icing on your resume, but not the focal point.
  3. Focus on your accomplishments versus your responsibilities:  Job bullets need to showcase your accomplishments for the most part.  In some cases, you can list both accomplishments and responsibilities.  List a few broad bullets about responsibilities and then separately include what you accomplished while in the position.  In general, titles and companies can indicate a good sense of what someone is responsible for, but it does not give context to what they really did or how well they did it.  You want to err on the side of focusing more on your accomplishments than on the responsibilities because that is what differentiates you." 
An additional tip my friend gave me was to clearly indicate if a position was eliminated.  Specifically for somebody like me who has been laid off, this is a helpful way of communicating information on my resume that an interviewer will likely want to know.  It helps potential employers understand your employment history and current status.

I'm working on revising my resume to match all of my friend's ideas.  Currently I've made a few changes, done swiftly for some recent resume requests and interviews.  Simply adding an objective and changing my work experience summary to focus on accomplishments versus responsibilities helped me noticeably.  I don't mean it helped me land a job, it's too early to tell just yet.  I mean it helped me with interviewing.  Summarizing my accomplishments on long term projects on paper prepares me well for interviews.  It helps me to articulate my experiences and my skills more easily to others in person.  Essentially, it helped me market myself better verbally as well as on paper.

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