I had a conversation the other day with a gentleman who was expressing his frustration about his job search. He told me that after a continued period of absolutely no response, he started researching resumes.
His first frustration is there is a tremendous amount of information out there and most of it is contradictory. So he went with the most general and commonly accepted points. But even this, when he compiled a list of agreed upon traits, was a very small and generic list.
His second frustration is not knowing what to say to get someone to notice him. He has listed duties and accomplishments and they seem to be right in line with what the job postings are requiring of a candidate.
His third frustration is how to say what he wants to say. He looked on line to see examples of resumes and pretty much copy and pasted the common bullet points in other resumes that were a fit to what he did.
His fourth frustration was that none of this was working, he was not getting noticed.
That is a lot of frustration. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon.
I can address the last three frustrations in one statement, but first let me address the first frustration:
There is a lot of information out there and if you really start digging into it, it can easily become overwhelming; especially when every other article you read contradicts the one you read before it. As a professional resume writer, I would like to apologize because I am sure that some things I say or suggest contradict others.
Here’s the thing about that: there are very few hard and fast rules to resume writing. It is a matter of style and personal preference infused with a varying degree of coaching and training. You can ask five people that do what I do one question and you can get six answers. We are all going to have a certain degree of variation on our spin.
So how do you sort it out and know what is right for you? By knowing what feels write and is in alignment with you. If someone suggests pie charts, pictures, varying fonts and lots of color and that does not jive with you – don’t do it. It is not right for you, which means you will not be fully vested in your resume and therefore not prone to promote it.
Now, about the not knowing what to say, how to say it and utilizing what everyone else is doing – I will tell you exactly what I told him:
If you don’t want to be seen like everyone else stop writing like everyone else.
How will you distinguish yourself if you use the same concept, form, words and bullet points as every other candidate? What in that makes you stand out or tells the reader, “This one is different?”
What is that distinction? Value.
You can have three other people that do what you do but what makes you different, better or a more attractive candidate than the others?
What makes you unique? Is it your education, skills, training, experience or the way you do the things you do? It is most often a combination of these things and a few more, including the value you provide.
Think about these questions and answer as many of them as apply to any single task or responsibility:
Who do you work with?
How do you work with them?
What do you do?
How do you do it?
Who benefits from this?
How do they benefit?
When you answer all of these questions on the first pass, there might be a lot of information to write down. That is fine, just take that and put it all together, then you can trim it down into a bullet point.
What you will be left with will be a value driven bullet point that will sound like no one other than you.
That is how you bring alignment with what you have to offer and what the position requires and makes it very difficult for the reader to ignore you.