This is a guest post by Jessica Dickson Goodman, Communications Manager with the start-up Careerimp.
No matter how many resumes you have written, the writers’ block that accompanies a fresh Word document (or Pages template) titled “Resume” is horrifying. Whether you’re starting with a blank slate because this is your first resume, you’re shifting careers, or you just need a change in your job search strategies, the following may help you think differently about your resume-drafting.
Your resume is a press release on your qualifications for a given job.
Like resumes, press releases have strict formats, clear requirements for refined language, and a well-defined audience. And like resume reviewers, the reporters who read press releases are extremely time-bound. Effective press releases have a single message, a headline which showcases that one important idea. The body clarifies the who-what-where-why-when-how, constantly reinforcing the message. Struggling for a message? I find “I am competent and have the skills listed in the job description” is a good place to start. Finally, a good press release “not only informs but also teases.”
Resumes are the same. If you had magic potion that embedded a single impression of you in your resume’s reviewer’s mind, what would it be? What if you got three impressions? Those impressions should be implied by every line-item on your resume.
Then, once you’ve proven you are competent with easy-to-skim formatting and classy grammar, you can tease. Include information they could ask about in an interview. Mention your cricket club so they can ask: “What was it like to found a Cricket club in Pittsburgh?” Include your summer teaching English for “Did you speak Spanish before living in Chile?” Contrast your major and extracurricular interests to get “How do your graphic design skills and your Statistics major fit together?”
Catching your reviewer’s attention by providing them genuinely interesting information is the only way to tease in a resume. Do not risk appearing deeply silly (in a bad way!) by forcing odd fonts or formatting upon your busy reviewer–remember, above all, time is king.
Once you’ve decided on a message (or three), chosen the experiences to highlight, quintuple-checked your grammar and spelling, and added in that sexy twist at the end, chill out. There is no value in suffering over an application. The press release is sent; the resume is submitted. Do your best on the task at hand, and move on.
De-stressing the resume-creation process is a goal I share with my colleagues at Careerimp. If you are interested in other ways to think about creating your resume, check us out at http://careerimp.com.
Jessica Dickinson Goodman works for the Pittsburgh, PA-based start-up, Careerimp. Careerimp is developing a way to automatically generate optimized resumes, thus making all this stressing and strategizing irrelevant. For more on Careerimp, check out http://careerimp.com.