You Are Making Writing Your Own Resume Harder By Not Asking This One Question



Writing your own resume stinks.


As a professional resume writer, I should probably be a bit more eloquent about it.  But let’s face it, you can put a pig in an Armani suit and it is still a pig.


No matter how much spin I put on it, if you are in the process of writing or updating your own resume I would bet dollars to donuts you have said more than once, either aloud or in your head, “this stinks!”  Or some version of that.


It does. It is hard.  You know what you want to say but not how to say it.  How do you fit everything in this one document? What do they want, what are they looking for? How can you make it look nice and not like a template? Why can’t this be easier?


All you want to do is to get this stupid thing together and demonstrate confidence in describing your value and expertise. Is that too much to ask?


Perhaps you have even gone to the web to do some research on how to write an amazing resume that gets attention.  Fantastic.  How long before you were overwhelmed with all the information and the amount of contradictory information?


That is just putting salt in the wound.


Stop the nonsense right now.  Step away from the resume, put down the coffee or wine that has been fueling the research and frustration of writing.  Stop writing, stop researching and stop thinking.


Stop, just stop.


There is one question I will bet you have not asked before you began this adventure and it just happens to be one of the most important questions to answer.  The answer will help frame your resume and align you with the jobs you want.


There is a catch – after you read the question, I do not want you to think it over, mull it around, take your time and devise a comprehensive answer.  Nope.  I want you to answer from the cuff.  Don’t think – just answer.


Are you ready?  Here it is:


What do you want people to know about you?


That’s it.  That is the big groundbreaking question.  It is as simple as that.  What do you want people to know about you.  That is your foundation. That is the whole point of your resume.  Getting your story across to the reader.  But before you can do that you have to know the central selling point of your story.


Start with that simple, easy answer.  Do you want them to know that you are great at sales? Or maybe you love developing teams and are really good at it. Perhaps that you are a compliance freak who loves the back office, in-depth research to solve the really hard problems. By the way, I still have a lot of compliance freak in me left over from my investment industry days so there were no stones thrown there.


Let’s take one of these: you are great at sales.


Ok, now what? Now, start filling in the blanks. We fill in the blanks by keep asking questions: why, how, who, what.

  • Why are you good at sales? What do you love about it?
  • How did you get to where you are? How do you ‘do’ sales better than anyone else?
  • Who do you work with?
  • How do you work with your clients, team members, home office, affiliates – any stakeholder that you interact with that improves your book and territory?
  • Who gains value from you doing what you do?
  • Who else? (your clients may get the value of your product, but how does you company gain value from what you do?)
  • How do you add value?
  • What is the value they receive?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you have that makes someone want to talk to you rather than someone else?


Now you are getting somewhere. Now you can start writing a resume that incorporates these elements into your opening and bullet points.  From this perspective you are demonstrating value, confidence and expertise.


Isn’t that what you wanted to come across in your resume all along?



As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, 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.

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