As ironic as it sounds, the day before I published my blog with the article Jobs Suck (about how I hate career coaches who exist to “find you your next job” (“job” should be a four-letter word!) or “fix your resume” (eye roll)), I found myself spending two hours cleaning up one of my favorite client’s—you guessed it—resume.
Suzy (not her real name—confidentiality, people!) spent eleven sessions working with me to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up, since she was conditioned to believe that everyone has just one path to travel down. While she had a million hobbies and passions she was never able to commit to That One Thing she was “supposed” to be doing with her life.
In working with me, Suzy realized that she can make a career being a Jackie of All Trades, and wanted to promote herself as a Girl Friday (adorable, right?!). She was so excited to get started, but she was stuck on just one lil’ thing (say it with me): her resume! When it arrived in my Inbox, I was floored by the sheer boring-/average-ness of it. Where was the vivacious, funny, spunky, hard-working, intelligent, sweet, do-anything woman that I’ve been working with for three months?! Here she was telling me how she got promoted to manager of a bakery partly because she learned the name and orders of every regular (along with their jobs, the names of their family members and pets, and their allergies!), while her resume said, “Maintained customer relationships” and “Prepared daily menus.” WHAT?!
I gave her The Business (but in a mostly nice, life coachy way) and forged ahead to work with her on having her resume reflect her awesome self by having her ask these questions:
• Does my resume showcase my skills and accomplishments?
• Does my resume highlight what I’m especially gifted or experienced at doing?
• Do I have enough measurable information on my resume (ie “Increased bakery sales by 20 percent as Retail Manager” or “Managed a team of twenty-five full and part-time employees”)?
• Does my resume make me stand out from the crowd?
• Does my resume “sell” me?
• Does my resume have enough key words to enable it to get picked up by a search engine? If not, how many of these power words can I throw in there?
If you’re having a super tough time finding the answers to these questions, then ask just one all-consuming question: “If I was hiring for this position, would I pick up the phone and call me? Why or why not?” Think of your tasks and accomplishments in a measurable way, along with the skills you used to make it happen. If it’s totally unrelated to the career you’re applying for, just tweak it to make sure it highlights your abilities. For example, when I decided to apply for a job as an executive assistant, I didn’t remove the two years I spent as a successful real estate agent, as I knew it was impressive for future employers to see that I “Received the Top Agent Award in an office of thirty for a total of six months, which led to collecting the highest commission split in the company’s history.” That brief bulletpoint showed that I’m a driven, self-motivating, hard-working people-person, which are great attributes for almost any position (if I do say so myself)!
If it’s the design of the resume you’re stuck on, you can pick up (free!) templates on Google Docs and Microsoft Office with a kajillion options to choose from. If it’s the wording you’re worried about, these Resume Samples give you a ton of examples to pull from. If you’re stressed about what you “have to” include on your resume (chronological order? objectives? skills?), just think of what will best sell you to your potential employer or clients, and include that. The rest can be tossed. Really.
As someone who secured five different jobs (three sales, one customer service, one exec asst) in less than three years, I know how to put my best foot forward, and am passionate about making sure my kick-ass clients show their prospective employers their best foot, too. So … is there a footprint on your resume, my kick-ass reader?