Organize Your Resume to Organize Your Mind

organized closet

I am an organizational junkie.  I love reading, watching and listening to anything about organization; from the garage, kitchen, closets, office – any organizational tip I can find I read it or watch it with excitement.


I guess I am hoping one day all those shows, videos, books, articles and tidbits will magically sink in and make me organized!  I have a bit of dual personality when it comes to organization.  In my work I am laser-focused organized.  In my home – that is a different story.  Let’s just say it is a work in progress.


But I am hopeful and vigilant.  This weekend I tackled my bedroom closet.  I kept in mind some of the basic rules of organizing:


Purge:  Most every aspect of our life falls in the 80/20 rule.  Focus on the 20.


Decide: Right here right now.  For each item ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  If you answer no then get rid of it.


Remove:  Be ruthless and bag or box any unloved or unused item and donate, sell or trash.


System:  Have a system in place.  Group like items, make it easy to see and find what you are looking for and if there are items that need attention be honest if you are actually going to give them that attention and if so then set a specific location for them to keep them all together.


Focus:  The driving force is the goal, not each item.  Focus on the overall goal and let go of the overwhelming desire to let the emotional attachment of each item drive your progress.


I will have to say my closet is looking pretty darn good.  I have sections that make sense to me, function, a lot of cloths to donate and a lot more breathing room in there.  I’m not completely done because now that it is starting to work for me I realize there are some more tweaks I need to do to make it a space I love.


This morning starting my day was much less stressful.  I could see everything clearly, decide quickly what I wanted to wear today and was able to get ready in much less time.  Total win for a Monday!


Maybe it was this new found freedom of stress that helped me realize an a-ha moment: these same rules apply to resumes, too.


I’ve said it before and I will say it many times again: your resume is the foundation of your job search.  It drives everything from your LinkedIn profile, interviewing, networking and job searching.  A good business bio does the same thing for your business in defining your LinkedIn profile, networking, customer communications and growth.  From here on out I will use the word resume, but keep in mind this applies to business owners and their own communication pieces.


If your resume is an unorganized mess than that is the impression you are giving the world.  Let’s use the same organizational rules to help tweak your resume without feeling overwhelmed:


Purge:  Let’s revisit that 80/20 rule.  For the position you seek or the career you desire you must first understand what is important in that role.  Then use that as the 20% to focus on with 80% of your resume.


Decide: Right here right now.  For each position, sentence, area of expertise item and bullet point ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  The love it part is actually does it love me?  Does this item support you in demonstrating yourself as the best candidate?  If you answer no then get rid of it.


Remove:  All those miscellaneous items clogging up your resume that do not support you in the role you want – trash them.  Don’t waste the reader’s time with minutia when you want them to focus on the specific points of your value and overall skill set.


System:  Have a system in place.  Write toward the job you want rather than giving a cliff notes version of the jobs you have had.  Under each position group like items, make it easy to for the reader to find what they are looking for.  As for those items that need attention be honest if you are actually going to give them that attention and if not do not include them.


For example if you are barely functional on Word or Excel; first do not put that you are proficient because you would be lying.  Second, if you know you have a weakness with them are you going to go take a free class to brush up on your skills?  Great, leave it in; if not, take it out or else an interviewer is free to ask you about it and that could be a negative point if it was an unattended item.


Focus:  The driving force is the next position, not your past.  Focus on the overall goal and let go of the overwhelming desire to emotionally beat yourself up on past mistakes, poor position choices and seemingly unexplainable career history.


Again, write your resume looking forward, not back.  What in those past positions helped you in any way for that next job?  What type of skills or lessons were learned and how can you apply them?  There is a thread there; it is your job to find it in order to present it to the reader so they understand.  Putting it bluntly: if you can’t figure it out how on earth are they supposed to?



Once you have taken the time to organize your resume and get rid of all that unwanted clutter then take a break.  Come back to it with a relaxed attitude because what you are left with is what will fully support you.  Then you can start tweaking it and putting in the final touches that bring it all together.


With a clean, fresh resume you can confidently – and strategically – organize and implement your LinkedIn profile, networking, elevator speech, interviewing and career search.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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