Abandon the concept of a resume. Yup throw it out. When I graduated from the University of Tennessee, I had one of those carefully constructed mechanical engineering resumes I used for all my interviews including Proctor & Gamble (adult diaper manufacturing), Newport News Shipbuilding (HVAC on ships) and IBM (banking). Three very different companies. Three very different positions. One resume. It is very different today. The expectation is a customized resume. A resume is like an outfit. You have to figure out where you are going and select appropriate clothes. You look in your closet and there may be some things that are so old and outdated, they should not leave your closet unless cloaked in a heavy-duty garbage bag. Just as you will have outfits based on the occasion, the resume is the same. Think of a resume as a collection of pieces of information that have to be customized. Consider these pieces, modules.
Goals & Skills
You have to identify your event to get dressed. Is it brunch with friends or spin class? The same is true for preparing content for your career. Identify your career goal. You may have several. What is the position you want? Online job postings are a great way to find the key skills companies have identified as required for the position you may want. Use Monster, Indeed, The Ladders, etc to identify three to five skills. When you are done, review the list and for each item, note your “proof points.” Your proof points are the things you have done to demonstrate your expertise for the skills required. If you find gaps, honestly think about what you are willing and able to do. I would love to be a graphic designer I am willing, but I’m not able. I don’t have mastery of the skills required. I crossed graphic designer off my list. Are your proof points strong enough for the position you want, or are there things you need to cross off your list?
Next, what is your elevator pitch. The elevator pitch is a 30 second speech that describes the business problem you solve and what makes you unique. It may be only 30 seconds, but it may take an hour to create. Thirty seconds. It is quick! Simply, state the problem and how you solve it.
I came from the product development team that made this product. Now, as technical sales, I know the business side of how this product works and what your technical team needs to do to implement and maintain this product. This makes me rare.
It’s a short description designed to start a conversation with those who are interested and not bore those who don’t give a crap. Also, the elevator pitch can be used to introduce yourself in a meeting or when someone asks what you do and when you encounter someone in your company that asks who you are. A good elevator pitch will get used often, typically weekly, at least once or twice a month.
Next is your bio. Your bio is short summary of you. This summary is used to introduce you at a speaking engagement, as an about me page on a website or the summary portion of a resume. This summary is basically a stealth sales pitch about what makes you uniquely you. It is what will make you valuable to a prospective employer. You can list the relevant education and credentials here. Short, concise and more important say something that will generate excitement about you. This is not an extended narrative about ever done you have done. It is a brief presentation to generate interest in you. Think of it this way, when you are dating, you shouldn’t tell the person every little thing and detail when you are setting up the first date. You want to intrigue. Then as you move forward, you can evaluate what is right for you. Some people will use a summary for once a month, most will use it quarterly.
This part is easy. Look at the top 3 to 5 skills a position requires from the first step – goals & skills. Write a short paragraph, 3 -5 sentences summarizes your success with that skill. That’s it! If there are several jobs or positions your could fill, list all those skills and put them in a table. You could end up with 10 to 15. All of these will not go into every resume. Just like you don’t put on every piece of clothing you own for an outfit, you curate. You will determine what is relevant. This table becomes your skills inventory. Review your skills inventory at least twice a year. Are there new things you need to add? Are there things that are no longer relevant?
All the components above are parts of your resume. These pieces are much like articles of clothing. You combine these pieces together like you would an outfit. If you want to be on the board of a volunteer group, use your summary for your volunteer work. For your skills, you may want use your proof points for fund-raising, event planning and initiative implementation. If you want to do freelance business coaching, use your bio of your work expertise and put in your proof points of management, mentoring, significantly increased sales and initiative implementation. There are all kinds and hints and tips, online to write a resume. Here is the deal. If you are applying for a position, the recruiter, the HR person or technology are all scanning your resume for key words. What key words? The skills and experience identified in the job posting. A standard format is
1. Your personal information – your name and contact info.
2. Summary – This is the summary that starts with the two lines from your elevator pitch
3. Experience – these are two to three sentences about your success with the skills required for the position
4. Education & Awards – these are your credentials relevant to the position
Remember, a resume is like an outfit. You have got to determine what you are doing first and foremost. Think about dressing for an event. Determine the critical components. How you dress for skiing is very different from how you dress for a business presentation. Then comes the honest conversation, just as articles of clothing become outdated or too large or too small, does your skill set match the skill set required for the position? Just like putting on extra clothes will not compensate for wearing the wrong outfit, adding everything you have done in your resume will not make up for the fact you have not provided detail about the skill asked for in the job posting. When putting your resume together, use the relevant pieces.
Great tips Sheila!
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Thanks Sheila! Great illustration of resume vs. clothes for different occasion, everyone can relate :-).
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Thanks Minzhen for the comment and the participating in the workshop. Great elevator pitch 🙂