7 Tips For Sending Your Best Resume to Achieve Career New Year Resolutions

writingA week or so into the New Year and the gyms are still full, networking events are brimming and connection requests are flying. Many are working hard on those New Year’s Resolutions!

If one of your resolutions included making a change in your career there is one thing you need to do before sending out your resume:

Conduct a year-end review

This review should include your past year of experience, schooling or volunteering and the visual aspects and readability of your resume.

Following these seven steps will help tweak your 2015 resume to a forward-moving, value driven 2016 resume.

1. Question

If it has been longer than a year since your last resume update, start at that time. Look back at your history and for each position and time period, answer the following questions:

• What did I improve?
• How did I grow?
• What did I learn?
• How did I contribute?
• What changed in my role?

If you realize that your current resume is simply a copy of your job description, you will want to redefine that before identifying improvements. Redirect your bullet points to address the following questions:

• What is my role/what do I do?
• How do I perform these responsibilities?
• Who benefits?
• How do they benefit?
• How do I work with them?
• What is the value that I add as an individual contributor?
• What is the result?

Answering these questions transforms duties (I was hired to do this) into value statements (this is what I do, how and how it creates value). Your bullet points will now be demonstrative statements of your expertise, skills and abilities.

2. Update

Revise any credentials and expertise including training, degrees or certifications earned or attended should be updated and included.

Have you learned new skills that should now be included in your ‘Proficiencies’ section or included in your opening statement?

3. Combine

If you have had more than one position within the same company, consider combining the positions under one heading of the company rather than listing them independently.

At first glance, they will look like two separate jobs so combining gives visual strength.

If the move is more in alignment with where you want to go, combining the positions allows you to tell the story of being at the company with the emphasis on the most recent position. It is not necessary to give each position equal space.

If you have had several positions within the same company moving up along the way, you can utilize an opening statement for the company stating that you began in X position and through a series of promotions into positions of increased authority and accountability lead to the current position of Y.

This allows you to direct your career history with the company to emphasize the elements that are most important to your next move.

4. Cut

A general rule of thumb is ten years for your career history. There are exceptions; this is just a generally acceptable expectation to detail the last 10 years of experience.

Work history prior to that time can be included as line items without detailed explanations.

Is it time to either remove ancient history, or just condense to make more room for more recent accomplishments and value?

5. Revamp

Right under your letterhead you should have an opening paragraph answering an employer’s most important question: “What can you do for me?” How has this changed since your last revamp? Does it still represent what you have to offer and what you want to do?

If your resume begins with an objective statement detailing what you are looking, revamp it to answer the ‘what can you do for me’ question.

This is your introduction; it should entice the reader to continue reading your resume. This is where you demonstrate and introduce your skills, abilities, expertise and value.

A potential employer does not care what you want; they want to know how you can help them.

6. Research

Research similar or desired positions. Look at job descriptions, job postings and LinkedIn profiles. Are there any phrases, key words or ideas that align more with what you want to say or represent you in your resume? Incorporate those into your resume.

7. Reformat

Is your resume feeling a little stale when you look at it? Try Googling “resume sample” and click on images. Look at, do not read, all the examples that are flooded onto your screen. Is there one that really catches your eye? Recreate the format for your own resume.

If the format stood out to you, there is a good chance it will stand out to potential employers.

It is your resume, make it your own.

Utilizing these seven tips can help get your resume into a much more ready state to leverage your resume to realize your New Year’s Resolution for your career.

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

Why I Think New Year Resolutions Bite … and Celebration Lists Rock

new years pictureI am not a big fan of doing anything that sets you up for failure. This is why I am not a big fan of making New Year Resolutions or online dating sites, but that is another story.

I understand and appreciate the idea behind New Year’s Resolutions; I just think they come with too much pressure and unrealistic expectations.

I love the pictures of an empty gym parking lot on December 30 and a packed parking lot on January 2. The third picture should be another empty lot in March.

I used to not make New Year’s Resolutions, but when I told anyone this they would look at me like I had two heads. Unheard of! Why on earth would someone choose to not subject themselves to a big, ol’ life changing to-do list on the same date as most everyone else and then proclaim it to all? I know I’m a killjoy.

I also do not like the judgment of resolutions.

I am five foot tall and maybe 100 pounds soaking wet. If my Fall were filled with lots and lots of the good stuff including wine, chili, lasagna, ham and beans and other wonderful Midwest Fall food, I might make a resolution to lose weight.

This would be met with, “You are so tiny you don’t need to lose weight.” Same would be said if I made a resolution of working out.

I did yoga for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I really liked it – after we were done. During the yoga I had many a conversation with my body about how it does not care to move as though I was elastic, pleads of not having gas and a reminder that there would be wine after the session. Welcome to my world of work outs.

I also like my bad habits and have no desire to part ways with them at this time.

So now, my resolution is simple: to be less of a historian and more of an adventurer. Most do not know what I mean or how to respond to this and that works for me. Stunned or confused silence is my friend.

By the way, what it means is that I want to continue to look less and less on my past (particularly my learning experiences, labeled by some as failures) and look more to my future with great excitement and participation.

I am not a glass half empty or half full kind of girl, I’m more of a glass has room for a refill kind of girl.

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I like to make a Celebration List; I am a killjoy and a list maker.

I choose not to look forward to a brand new year with the attitude I need to change or improve major or all aspects of my life. I choose instead to look back on the things I am proud of and build on those.

I had plenty of learning experiences and some pretty great successes:

  • I began walking with a group of women. On the weekends and throughout the week we logged miles and miles while we have wonderful conversations about work, life, men, children and ideas. I would like to build on this by doing it more often.
  • I was able to get one of the boys to walk on the trail without dragging me along or stopping to pee on every blade of grass. I would like to build on this by being able to bring both my boys on these walks and not be banned from the trail. My boys are my dogs, Luke and Bandit.
  • I bought a car, and said goodbye to two. I am going to and have started building on this by learning how to do simple car things – like change spark plugs, O2 sensors, fixing mufflers and learning about water pumps and other car stuff.I built a beautiful garden complete with an arbor and gate and filled it with lots of vegetables and herbs. Some actually survived! I would like to build on this by not planting so many cucumber plants, those things go crazy, and to take cooking classes to learn how to use those herbs.
  • I built a fire pit and stone walkway. I will build on this by sitting in front of the pit more often, it is an awesome place for meditation – and wine.
  • I completely redid my master bedroom. I will build on this by building a custom closet organization myself.
  • I wrote articles that had tremendous outreach and connected with new clients all over the world. I would like to build on this by offering more.
  • I had great ideas come to me, all in haphazard ways which finally came to make sense and will be building on this to launch something exciting in 2015.

I did not end 2014 in tip top shape, eating healthy and having a monstrous bank account; but then again, those were not my goals. My goal was to be happy, and I succeeded beautifully.

New Years Resolutions – Whatever

lisa and jackie new yearsI have never really made New Year Resolutions.  For three reasons:

 

  1. I’m not really a follow the crowd kinda girl so making lofty goals on the exact same date as over half of the population because of a specific date does not appeal to me

 

  1. I have determined that resolutions that are made on New Years tend to be quite lofty and often several at one time; which tend to lend themselves to being viewed as unobtainable after the first few weeks (this I attribute to the festive atmosphere and too much campaign)

 

  1. Life is too fluid and ever changing and I believe my goals, ambitions and      resolutions should reflect that or I will be left behind!

 

I concentrated more this year on how I was ringing in the New Year rather than setting the stage for the whole thing.  I traveled through snow, ice and treacherous drivers to spend New Year’s Eve and a couple extra days with my best friend.

 

What better way to welcome in a new year than with your best friend!

 

Of course the conversation came up about things we would like to accomplish this year.  Of course there are the common healthy lifestyle in eating better, working out – to which we toasted on those and got back to other thoughts.  Spending more quality time with family, concentrating on our businesses and how we can better serve others and scheduling regular best friend weekends.

 

When we started to really look at these things – because we are both over-analyzers and this is why we get along so well – we discovered that we could really break these things down to not how we were going to accomplish them, but rather what was preventing us from doing so now.

 

We all have goals and ambitions and if they were easy we would already be doing them.  It is not that we don’t want to do them but more of something is preventing us from doing them.

 

That was the “a-ha” moment – that’s when we got really excited and the lists began to form.

 

What is preventing you from going after what you want?  What is your road block?

 

We discovered it was something which seems very simplistic but is a major factor is our lives: crap.

 

We have a lot of crap blocking us.  Literally.

 

Looking around my office I see pictures on the floor to be hung, boxes overflowing with items to be reviewed or sorted, dog toys long since past their prime, wires from electronics just waiting to trip someone, file folders haphazardly sitting in a chair….the list goes on.  But it can be summarized with one word: crap.

 

We have to clean up our crap.  If your space is clear, your mind is clear and your blocks begin to disappear.

 

So we made a list – because that is what we do.  We wrote out all the rooms in our homes – including garages and outdoor spaces.  Then we ranked them.  Now here is where we got smart – we didn’t start with the biggest crap issue, oh no, we started with the smallest.

 

We decided to begin with the rooms that needed the least amount of work in order that they would be more easily conquered and therefore as we continued down our list we would be building a list of successes.

 

Then we added rules.  Again – because that is what we do.  There are seven bins for each room: some included trash, donate, personal, business, house, projects and the last one was miscellaneous.  I’ll get back to that.  And there are no reorganizing, remodeling or redecorating at that time.  Just cleaning out clutter period.

 

The trash bin had rules too – oh yes, and by this time this should not surprise you.  If we haven’t used it in 2012 or prior, it has no personal value or it is a “one-day” (i.e. one day I will finish this, one day I will research this etc) then it immediately goes in trash.

 

The miscellaneous has a purpose.  If we could not categorize the item immediately then it goes in miscellaneous.  When all the rooms are done and our entire space is clear of clutter then we are to go back to the miscellaneous.  We believe we will be in a more clear mind frame to make a proper determination of those items at that time.  Odds are most will go to trash.

 

Now, the plan is once all the clutter is gone then we can go back and redo any room that we choose.  Mine will be my office.  I already know the way I want it to feel and look.  Once the clutter is out then I will be free to recreate this space knowing that I can focus solely on the purpose and feel of the room rather than if I have to worry about if I should keep something or not.

 

One thing we realize is that when we are cleaning out all that crap (or clutter) than it will also give us a pretty good smack in the face as to what we are holding on to and why.  Time to let things go if they do not fall in line with the overall ideals for the year.

 

Do these things help us bring more quality time to our family, to they help us serve our clients in our highest capacity, do they bring peace or joy to our home, or are they reminders of things long since past?

 

We still have some goals and ideals for the year, but starting with a fresh slate will help us determine what will really fit in our life, what we are literally removing from our lives and what we are left with are the things that matter the most.

 

Be kind to your self when setting New Year Resolutions.  Think about why you want to achieve the things you want to achieve.  Do I really want to eat all healthy all the time?  Heck no!  I love my Dew, chocolate and pizza – and I am not going to give them up.  But I will add the healthier meals more often and that is a good compromise to me.

 

The goals are about you – so make them for you with out regret, with out guilt and without input from anyone else – it is a new year and it is all about you!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

 

New Year’s Resolutions – Ain’t Gonna Happen!

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” ~Oscar Wilde

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” ~Mark Twain

I love these two quotes – and they pretty much sum up how I feel about New Year Resolutions – I don’t put a lot of stock in them.

I do not make them – ever.

I had a friend who regularly made New Year Resolutions; once during a light debate about making resolutions he told me with pride that one of his resolutions he made eight years ago still sticks. That’s great, glad you don’t bite your nails anymore. Ick.

But one big list one time a year?

That really does not work for me. And why January 1, New Year’s Day? The Chinese New Year does not even start until January 23 so that throws a little wrench in things.

By the way, 2012 will be the year of the Dragon which is said to be bringing blessings of harmony, virtue, riches, fulfillment and longevity. Yea Dragon! Bring it on!

Why not make them on your birthday – after all, logically, that is when your personal new year starts? Just a thought.

Back to my original thought; I don’t make New Year Resolutions because I have some illusion that I need not change anything about myself – trust me, I’m fully aware of habits I need to modify!

It is a pressure thing. I have enough pressure in my life why on earth would I add a list that I am forced to come up with in two days and feel the need to complete it starting RIGHT NOW? I do not need that kind of stress.

Don’t put that kind of stress on yourself – it is not healthy. If you feel the need to make a resolution make it because it is truly something you want to change, not because some weird social pressure to accommodate a tradition that is effectively vacated within 30 days.

So all you fellow rebels out there join me in effectively thumbing our collective noses at resolutions!

I will not make the standard resolutions of working out, eat healthier, break a bad habit or two or change my entire schedule. I will not set myself up to fail because I am honest with myself and know the following:

1. Although I love a great work out, I have to get to a point at which I can’t stand it anymore and finally throw myself into it. Kind of like cleaning a certain room, you can let it pass for so long then one day it just sends you over the edge and you go through with a flame thrower.
2. I’m that annoying person that gets so consumed within projects that I forget to eat – seriously. So my main thing is to remember to eat period. Think I’m kidding? Yeah, well, this is why my best friend, son and another friend regularly ask me if I have eaten each day.
3. I still enjoy my certain bad habits and have no desire to change them so therefore I know I won’t.
4. My day is not typical and you cannot force a square peg in a round hole so making myself conform to a stringent exact schedule would be torture and immediate failure for me. Why would I want to make myself feel like a failure? Seriously.

So if you feel the need to make a resolution, do yourself a favor and be honest with yourself. If you didn’t have the ability to complete the task yesterday what makes January 1 a magical transformative day that now you can? Set yourself up for success.

But, I do have friends that insist on asking, “But if you did make a resolution, what would it be?” Apparently nothing I had said to this point sunk in, so it is easier to just play along. So, if I were to make a New Year’s Resolution, I guess it would be just one thing:

Be more tolerant.

This is also something that I wish more people would adopt, the world needs more tolerance. It seems so simple, but in my world it is much more complex.

More tolerance for myself personally: what I mean by this is to remember to accept myself and not feel the need to apologize for who I am. I could not say it any better than Marilyn Monroe:

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

More tolerance for others: I judge others not by their words or intentions rather by their actions. I’m a wordsmith so I know how easy it is to come up with just the right thing to say, but the importance is in presentation, implementation and completion – i.e. action. I wish to be more tolerant of others in accepting their inaction. Whether it is by choice or inability is not mine to determine, just accept. I will let go of the need to defend, analyze or hope for anything different than what others chose to do – that goes for family, friends, colleagues and clients.

Family. I’ve had family that have made decisions that I do not agree with and tried to help or influence; I will accept that these are their choices and I can support the person without supporting the decision and be tolerant of the person that they are, not who I wish or know they can be. They love me despite my stubbornness, impatience and every other nagging quality – it is time I am more tolerant of their qualities and love them as a whole.

Colleagues/Clients. I’ve had potential clients that could not pull the trigger, could not commit to embarking on something that would bring them great personal and professional benefit. I will be more tolerant in understanding that commitment comes from within; no matter how much I want to help, I am not able to do so until they open the door themselves. I will no longer take this on as my own – it is not something that I could say or do differently, they will be ready when they are ready.

People in general. Sometimes I think people act intolerant of others due to lack of life experiences. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own little world that when we feel someone acted unjustly to us we take it personally. I refuse, I choose to give the benefit of the doubt and let them and myself go on living our lives without placing importance on insignificant acts.

So if there were to be any New Year’s Resolutions, my wish would be that we all give ourselves the gift of tolerance – learn to accept and love ourselves and others as we are, not as we hope to be, but as we stand right here right now. From that we can gain peace, joy and strength to then move forward in modifying behaviors or habits to bring about the things that give us the greatest happiness.

Blessings for the new year!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.
http://www.CareerPolish.com

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