For a good number of folks, job search equals resume. Job search equals scanning as many help wanted pages as possible and mailing resumes wherever possible. It also includes attending as many job fairs as possible. And lastly, it would include applying to as many online job postings as possible on Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com or any job board on the internet.
Wow, that is just depressing! How many, many resumes must a person send out before realizing that this is a broken path for many of us. For every successful job seeker, I am guessing there are probably many, many more that did not succeed.
Although I have mixed feelings about the value or viability of sending out resumes to openings, I would not dispute the importance of a well-constructed resume. My only concern is how it is used. I am a big believer in Richard Bolles’ statement that resumes are something you leave behind versus something you send ahead.
Following that train of thought, I have always believed that you should have a number of different resumes prepared. In a previous article, I talked about having the wherewithal to adapt one’s elevator speech to the situation one finds him or herself in. Likewise, the cover letter and resume you send should be tailored to the needs of the person receiving it.
This almost precludes sending out mass resumes or dropping off 50 resumes at a job fair. Having multiple or adaptable resumes mean researching and targeting.
In essence you should have two core resumes. The first resume is the one that you would send ahead. The second resume would be the one you leave behind after the interview. Because while I do think that Richard Bolles is dead on, sometimes you have to send a resume ahead of you.
In a military battle, there tends to be an advance guard that moves forward of the main army group. The advance guard’s purpose is to prepare the way for the main fighting force. Behind the main force is generally the rear guard. You are the main fighting force and the battlefield is the interview. Your foe is all the other applicants, all your shortcomings, all the misgivings and doubts that interviewer may have, and the needs and wants of that interviewer.
Your first core resume should give a brief and tantalizing glimpse of who you and what you have done – by extension, what you could do for the interviewer. By definition, it cannot be so complete that an interview would be pointless. Yet, how many applicants send in 2 or 3, or even 4, page resumes. What is there to really talk about when everything is already on paper?
The lead resume should have essentially four sections:
- Header with full name, address, telephone, and the rest of contact information
- Summary of qualifications
- Work Experience
- Education and/or Special Skills
Let us talk about summary of qualifications. You should use bullet points versus a paragraph. I would list 3 broad areas such as Management, Operations, Marketing, Administration, Business Development, Sales, etc. Under each area, list 3 to 4 accomplishments.
Each accomplish should emphasis your superior skill set for each broad area. Pull from all the jobs you have held to build these lists. The key is to demonstrate your potential asset to the prospective employer, not a listing of how wonderful you were at the last job you had.
This brings us to your work experience. In bullet point format, simply list your past work experience. Keep it straight forward – your position with or without a one line description and dates. Do not list your accomplishments per job, as you pulled across your work history to fill in the previous section. And unless the job was really unique, I would also skip the one line description.
The end result is a one page resume that focuses on your qualifications and accomplishments. Most resume reviewers are less concern with reading a 2 or 3 page work history, rather the concern is with what you bring to the table.Â
And you want to whet the person’s appetite. Like a good ad copy, you want to leave the reader wanting more. Truth be told, if the person on the receiving end gets in a 100 or 200 resumes, it almost becomes a roll of dice. Yet, if you present a one page resume that speaks to your unique qualifications versus the standard two-page, chronological resume, I would argue that your chances improve.
And it leaves so much more to discuss at the interview. The discussion can revolve around why you believe you possess the skills you claim to have and how you can use them to the benefit the person you are interviewing with.
Take a good look at a business plan. It can be, with SWOT analysis, operational, legal, and financial information, anywhere from 50 to 100 pages long. It is expected to be in depth. It is what you leave behind with banks and investor for them to study. But all business plans begin with a 2 to 3 page executive summary. Without this executive summary, the actual business plan may never be read.
The one page, lead resume is your executive summary.
Let us say, you are attending a job fairÂ With some advance planning, you pinpoint 10 companies that you are interested in. You do some research and get a feel for the type of individuals that work there. You then adapt the one resume, specifically the summary of qualifications section, to each of the ten companies’ needs. You go to the job fair and drop ten different resumes. Targeted – focused.
This is much easier if you have a flexible, one page resume than if you have a traditional one that could run 2 or 3 pages. Keep in mind, the principle objective of this resume is to act as an advance guard. It is not a definitive work history that you leave behind.
As for the second resume, this is the one that you leave behind after an interview. This is the definitive work. The summary of qualifications would remain the same. However you would expand on everything else here.
In the work history, list one or two lines describing the job functions with 2 or 3 specific accomplishments for that job. During the interview, you discussed your past positions. Now, this resume’s purpose is to remind and reinforce what you discussed during the interview.
Expand on your education and special skills. If the company you are interviewing with is big into raising money for Red Cross, add that your experience includes working with raising money for the local PTA. This resume can be 3 pages long. This resume does the clean up duty.
As for the specifics of writing either of resumes, there is a plethora of resume writing services out there. Of course, there are also template program and software that you can use. Lastly, your local library, as an asset, is unbeatable. Which you do use is not as relevant as how you will use it.