A 4 Step Self-Guided Resume Workshop to Separate from the Pack


Do you ever worry that your resume isn't making an impact? Make some simple changes to move on...

Do you ever worry that your resume isn't making an impact?  Are you unsure if your personal/professional brand is clear?  The following 4 step self-guided mini-workshop should get your started on that much needed revamp.


Step 1 - Take Your Perspective Back Up to 30,000 Feet
When you began your resume you started with formatting.  Take a fresh look and find a middle ground between the flashy, pink and scented (Legally Blond Reference - Catch that?) format and the boring narrative list format.  Think about your section headers - are you showcasing the most important information the employers in your industry are looking for from candidates? 

An example - If a job description discusses the importance of excellent communication skills, application of academic theory and demonstrated leadership ability, your resume shouldn't start off with Technical Skills in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  Each resume submitted in application for candidacy should be tailored to the job description. 


If you are using a narrative format for your resume, consider converting to the use of bullets and columns.  You want to spoon feed the employer your skill sets that qualify you as the candidate to choose over others.  Put yourself in the employer's shoes for a moment.  You have 50 to 100 qualified candidates' resumes sitting in a stack before you (or in a pdf viewer window).  A spreadsheet with minimum and preferred qualifications neatly and exhaustively listed out.  Each resume needing to be reviewed to see who gets to move on in the interview process.  If your resume is the one with paragraphs and paragraphs detailing your qualifications, you may lose out on an opportunity to another more concise candidate. 

Step 2 - Move from a List of Job Tasks to a Profile of Skill SetsMany people use the chronological format of a resume that lists each position and the job tasks or projects at each one going back a decade (or more).  What is a job task?  A job task is very specific to a particular job or company.  An example would be, "Met the needs of customers in a polite, efficient manner."  A better example of this job task is to consider the skills it takes to complete it.  Consider: "Practiced excellent Customer Service efficiently and effectively."  Or even, "Managed a team of Customer Service professionals implementing innovative Leadership Practices." 


These are very broad, but try making the transition from job task to skill set.  Remember an employer doesn't care where you obtained a skill, they just care that is a transferrable asset for them.  Also, pull out successful projects in their own showcased section of your resume, "Relevant Projects."  If you are a student consider using, "Relevant Coursework and Projects."  You want to showcase your successes in a clear and concise manner. 

Step 3 - Apply a Personal Branding Perspective to Your ResumeOnce you've got your list of skills sets and projects, begin to prioritize the bullets for yourself.  What stands out?  What three words stand out most for you?  Is this the brand you want to exhibit?  If not, have friends, colleagues, mentors and family members give you their perspective.  Ask them to review your resume for 3-10 seconds, then tell you the three words or themes that stuck out to them.  This will tell you what message an employer will receive from your resume. 


There's a lot of personal branding information out there - find the school of thought that works for you and apply it.  Be honest with yourself and don't be afraid of planning to obtain new and needed skill sets that will set you up for success in your career motives.  Remember: each bullet on your resume could be a talking point in an interview. 

Step 4 - Seek SaturationA great resume is not a destination.  A great resume is always evolving and is consistently speaking with your voice.  In order to get a good resume to great status, you must not develop it in a vacuum.  This means you have to ask others (friends, family and strangers) to critique you.  It can be tough to ask friends and family for feedback of this personal nature.  However, they can provide great input no matter how difficult it may seem.  Colleagues, mentors and career development professionals (your college career center, a past teacher/professor, or a private career coach) can be of great assistance for the more difficult things to hear.  Reach out, get feedback and seek the point of saturation. 


The point of saturation is where you hear the same tips and feedback over and over.  When you begin saying to yourself, "I can't make that change or edit because it doesn't represent me if I do."  However, don't let yourself be closed to these thoughts as they may prove to be the next point of evolution for your personal brand. 

Don't let a stagnant piece of paper be your obstacle to your next career opportunity.  Look for every chance to evolve your resume into a document that speaks with your voice.  A voice resonating louder than other competing candidates.