If you have asked a friend to ‘take a look’ at your resume, it stinks. You know it does, they know it does and yet they are not going to tell you.
Friends are too nice to say that. Friends are supposed to be supportive and being supportive means telling you ‘it sounds great’ when it really does not. Dollars to donuts, they cannot tell you what you do immediately after reading your resume, but – it sounds great.
They might suggest some small grammar or comma change because then they can demonstrate that they read it and they get to remain in safe zone. Safe zone consists of staying away from anything that could question your abilities or skills.
Safe zone is safe for a reason. Friends know that there is the possibility – just the slightest of possibilities – you might get mad or defensive if there is any suggestion or implication of questioning your abilities.
Then there is this possible scenario: they suggest something, you make the change in your resume, you do not immediately hear back after you submit it for the first time, then blamed them. “Well, I did what you told me and it didn’t work!”
Stop asking your friends to help you with your resume, it is a no win situation for them and frustrating for you.
Because you feel the need to ask someone to look at your resume then something inside of you is telling you that it is not quite right. That inner voice is normally correct, but if you cannot ask your friends to read your resume to help you, how do you make it better?
Stop reading your resume as the author and read it as a hiring manager.
Now is the time to bring in the expert. Who knows what you did better than you? No one. You are the expert in what value you have to contribute. Leverage this in using the following steps to analyze your own resume and make it shine:
Before you read your resume, determine the job and scope of responsibilities. What is a hiring manager looking for in the position that you seek?
If you are unsure of what the job entails or what is required, then you need to spend a lot of time on this step. To be frank, how can you write to a position if you do not know it?
Write out the specifics of the position, scope, responsibilities, expectations and wish list of desired attributes. Having this list will make it much easier to critique your resume in the following step.
Create a scoring sheet for your resume before you review it. The detail of the desired position is one aspect. Other qualifications it should have is readability, which includes the visual elements of your resume; impressions and proof.
Now it is time to read the resume. Think like a hiring manager: you have 300 resumes to review for this position and your time is valuable. You are not going to waste your time digging for information; if the candidate does not bring it, you are tossing it.
Just to show you are serious, get a red pen out to mark that puppy up. If there are inconsistencies –red mark; if there are missing elements – red question mark; hold nothing back, the red pen is merciless.
Ten Second Test
Before you read into detail, give your resume – or rather the resume of the prospective candidate in front of you – the ten second test. Glance briefly at it to see if it engages you enough to want to read on in a passing glance of the top quarter of the page. Is it visually attractive or does the text look small, cramped and crowded making it harder to read? This is the visual aspect of the readability.
Write down your initial impressions of this resume on your scoring sheet.
Break It Down
Now take each section one at a time and go into detail. Get your list that you created for the desired position and have it right next to the resume. As you review each section, make a check mark next to the desirable qualities when mentioned in the resume.
Read the opening of the resume, what is your impression? Is that person telling you what they want in a position or what they can do for you in the position? What strengths do they bring to the company, team, or position? Do they sound proactive using strong action words or reactive and just showing up to the job at hand?
Experience Is More Than Showing Up
Here is where the proof is in the pudding. Reading through their experience, is it a demonstration of value add or a list of job duties?
Using job duties as bullet points tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. No one cares what you were hired to do; they want to know how you contributed in a valuable way.
Are the bullet points convincing you of the candidate’s expertise or skills? Are they demonstrating the value they bring to an organization by describing who they worked with, how they worked with them, what they did and how it was of value?
This is the proof section. The scoring sheet should have the requirements, now the experience section should prove the candidate has them and utilizes them to provide value to an organization, team, staff and/or clients.
Now that you have written notes analyzing your resume, you can revise it to meet the expectations of a hiring manager. When you begin to rewrite your resume, keep it front and center in your mind that you are writing not for you – but for them.
It is your job to tell them how you meet or exceed the requirements or expectations; how you bring value to their organization; how you are the solution to their problem; how you are the best candidate among the 300 resumes.
You know what you do, how you do it and how it brings value. That is why it is best for you to identify where it is missing in your resume then bring it out; this is not a job for your friends.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
In other words: I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.
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