It is time. You have decided you are ready to leave that mind-numbing, life-sucking job of yours, go after that next step or change careers all together. You have finally decided that now is the time to go after it.
You create a plan, maybe just in your head, but you have a plan. Get your resume together, your LinkedIn profile cleaned up, let your network know, research, identify and conquer. Great.
So you begin – sitting down at your computer with an old resume or a blank page and start to let the career history and amazing points about you flow.
And you sit….and sit….and sit…..
A great thought just came to mind and you write that out like a masterpiece. Perfect, now just to fill up the rest of the page. But then that little voice in your head starts talking:
“Really? You think that is good? Sure, but for you? That is pretty boisterous, don’t you think? I mean c’mon, you really think you are all that and the bag of chips?”
Scratch that last thought.
And you sit….and sit….and sit…..
Research! That’s it, research how to write a resume or what companies are looking for – that is what you need to get started.
Oh. My. Goodness. Could there be any more information on how to do this and could it contradict just a little bit more? One page, no two; fancy-smancy, no plain and concise; bullet points, no paragraphs – seriously, make it stop.
At some point a level of frustration comes over you and you say to yourself, or in your outside voice, “Why is this so hard?! It is about me for crying out loud, I know what I have done!”
Welcome To My World
Would it surprise you to know that two of the largest groups of professionals I work with are Human Resource and Sales Professionals? One group can read a resume like no one’s business and the other can sell anything. But they, too, struggle with writing their own resume.
Why does it feel so uncomfortable writing your own resume? Three reasons:
Fear, nakedness & monotony
Fear of saying the wrong thing, not saying it in the right way, not using the right format or looking like an idiot.
Nakedness in being in the center stage spotlight and feeling like you are bragging.
Monotony in that what you have been doing has become “just part of my job” and the value that you bring has been overshadowed, covered up and buried in the everyday and expected.
Conquer the Madness
First, realize you are not the only person that struggles with this. No matter what position someone is in their career, they can struggle with this so relax.
The most important thing you need to “say” in your resume is your value. The reader wants to know what you can do for them and why they want to talk to you rather than the 300 other candidates. This is their most important question.
Turn this around in your mind from describing yourself as an individual to a professional there to solve their problem(s). What is the position, requirements, industry, issues, expectations, audiences, scope and relevancy? Identify these main components to speak to them in your resume.
Next, fight against giving the reader bullet points of your job duties – this is what you were hired to do and no one cares what you were hired to do; they care what you did.
Demonstrate your skills by creating bullet points that speak to who you work with, how you work with them, what you do, how you do it and how they benefit. Not each of these elements will be represented in each bullet point; however it is a good place to start in getting the feel for demonstrating value.
Write this in a manner that is conversational to you, as though you are explaining to someone who has never met you what it is you do all day. Then fine tune it in resume language.
Oh yes, resume language. It is horrible, isn’t it? Incomplete sentences, feeling like you are fluffing when you just want to say something in five words or less.
Stop it. It is not about you. It is about the reader. Your resume is your story, which you get to tell in the way that you want the reader to understand. Any good story must create interest. To create interest you must speak to what is important to them and in doing so paint a picture.
Think about reading a novel. You form an image of a character based on the words the author uses. The reader is doing the same about you. Use words that resonate with you. Be descriptive not for the sake of being flowery, use words to emphasize and create a sense of ownership, expertise, commitment, passion, innovation, excitement or confidence.
As far as the formatting – there are no hard fast rules for resumes. Sure, there are some general guidelines, but nothing concrete “DO NOT EVER DO THIS” because for every one of those, I bet we could find 20 articles telling you to do it.
This is your story, the words and imagery should reflect you. Go to Google and type in “resume sample” then click on images. Look at all those resumes. Do not read them! Just look at them. Which one is your eye drawn to? Use that format. If you like it you will be more likely to promote it.
As far as the one page versus two pages – the person that matters to the most is the person reading your resume, which you will never know their preference. You have a fifty-fifty shot here. What is more important to the reader is three things: 1. Tell me what you are applying for, 2. Tell me how you qualify and 3. Make it easy for me to find and understand in your resume.
It is so very uncomfortable talking about yourself. That bragging thing is a confidence killer. By using the demonstrative process it takes the bragging issue out of the equation and instead becomes a matter of you stating facts.
If you are really struggling, approach it as though it is not your resume. If this was your best friend or spouse how would you write it for them? We beat ourselves up much too quickly and jump at the chance to promote those we love. Love yourself.
Think of this – if you do not tell someone how good you are, who will? Your mom or spouse cannot hand deliver your resume to them and give them a sales pitch for you. And if they do, there are way bigger issues at hand than struggling to write a resume.
This is the forest for the trees syndrome. We have been doing something for so long that it becomes routine. It is probably unnoticed or unappreciated by your current employer or become expected (perhaps why you are leaving) therefore you no longer see it as added value.
Break it down, start at the beginning. Go back to when you first started. How did each job evolve? How did you get from one step to the other? Not in terms of “here are my responsibilities and my accomplishments” but the real story. Tell your story to the computer. Type it out.
Get out of resume mode and get into conversation mode, that is when you will start to recall the story and that is when those lost points of value start coming back to you.
If you have some generalized statement on your resume, like, “Implemented a standardized X program” break it down. How did you implement it, why was there a need, who identified it, how did the process start, how did the implementation go, what were the hiccups, how did you solve them, who were you working with during the process, how did it benefit people?
There is a gold mine of value in answering those questions. You can demonstrate a number of skills: communication, project management, strategic thinking, problem solving, collaboration, team building, leadership – and the list goes on.
If You Need Help
Even after this article, you may find that you want help in writing your resume. You may be able to conquer those three monsters, but then it is a matter of time.
How do you find a person to help you? First, do not ask your friends. They will say it looks good even when it doesn’t either to pacify you or make you go away. For more on that, here is a related post on that:
It would be shameless for me to, at this point, say hire me. So I will not. I am not the right resume writer for everyone and not everyone is the right client for me.
Writing your resume is a personal endeavor. It is important to find a professional that is a good fit for you. The professionals in my field take different approaches, just as the professionals in your field do.
What are your priorities when having your resume done? Cost, time, quality? Know your priorities before you do your research. There are companies that will promise a 24 hour turn around, some offer very low prices – there are writers to fit everyone’s needs.
Do your homework. If you are going to employ a 24 hour turnaround company, look at their site and know what to expect. Talk to the professionals and get a feel for how they approach you and your resume. Do you communicate well with each other, in other words, do they get you and what you want out of this?
Do you need someone that will tell you what to do or someone that will expect you to be a contributor in the process? Know yourself and what you need.
Let It Begin
When you start this process, be gentle with yourself. It can be frustrating and you are a novice creating a new sales piece; however, you are the expert on the subject. Take your time and take breaks. Work on it then walk away, come back with a fresh set of eyes. Copy and paste your work into a word cloud to make sure you are emphasizing the main keywords. Tagcrowd.com is a great site for this.
If you were never taught how to write a resume, what makes you think you are should know it all right now? Take the pressure of the search and perceived expectations out of it and start by telling your story to your computer.
Let it evolve, review it as though it was not yours and enjoy the process of rediscovering your value.
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.
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 how we can help you.