To Resume Or Not To Resume? Bullet Points, Job Descriptions and Little White Lies

Resume writing is an exercise in concise and intentional language. My less traditional route through employment hasn’t much required this black and white, two-dimensional snapshot, so when I recently was asked to submit one, I actually laughed out loud.

People still use resumes!? How very 20th century of them.

Conventional job searches rely on outdated methods – sweat out a resume (fudging facts here and there), scan the want ads, pound the pavement (a metaphor that conjures up painful Siberian exile), and sit across from a manager who doesn’t know who his ideal hire looks like, but expects you to grovel for the gig anyway.

No wonder why so many of us are unfulfilled in our work. Does this sound like the road to job satisfaction? Not so much. Since I parachuted out of the proverbial airplane of my first career in 2010, I’ve been fascinated with how we can feel both free and deeply committed to making a living that uplifts, and not depletes.

Knowing what you want to do next and where you want to do it are much more effective in opening the door to right income. (Thanks Gandhi.) Meet with people. Have conversations about what you do and why you do it. Let them see you in action – show, don’t just tell. Of course, certain professions require licensing, certification, and such, and you can supply that information, but don’t be solely represented by bullet points and fonts. Would you rather read about a new gallery exhibit, or let the vibrancy and emotion of an artist’s painting captivate and enchant you?

Given the choice between reading someone’s biography or having dinner with them, which would you choose?

Please, right this way to your table, Ms. Steinem…

However, for the sheer experience, I complied and penned the Cliff Notes version of my history, skills, and education. In 15 minutes. It was actually fun, and damn, if I didn’t want to not only hire me, I wanted to pay me more than I was asking!

Turns out that writing a resume is an end in itself, because whether you get the position, you’ll learn how to recognize, streamline and highlight your strengths with confidence. If you’re going to be judged by mere words on a piece of paper, shouldn’t you be your first and best cheerleader? This is not the time to be humble. Shine like the North Star. Brag like a gold medalist.

Distill your talents and sell your assets.

  • Keep it simple. One font, one page. Leave lots of white space so the eye may rest.
  • Name and contact information. No need for address or SS# or anything more personal yet.
  • Stay relevant. Include only necessary dates (no months, just years) and pertinent information.
  • Include experience not compensated monetarily. How have you created value for another? Charity work or volunteer position? Ran a social organization or club? Recipe writer or master of DIY? Your talents lie in more realms than financial – ever hear of social profit?
  • Tech skills. Indispensible and all too rare. (You know more than you think.)
  • Don’t list out minutiae – no one reads the admin. It’s clutter on the page.
  • Tell the truth. Own your accomplishments with integrity.
  • Focus on your excellence and strengths. How are you consistently educating yourself? A leading edge gives you the edge.
  • Give them no choice but to meet with you – right now.

If you’re even slightly discontent with your work, take a few moments, go to Google Docs, grab a resume template, and practice being concise and intentional. Shine! Reframe life experience into lessons learned ~ what used to ‘look bad’ are pluses nowadays:

  • Gaps because of travel or parenting translate into highly prized traits: communication skills, prioritization abilities, time management, adaptability, risk-taking, etc…
  • No degree? Enter self-direction and innovative thinking. See: Steve Jobs.
  • Change jobs often? You have a larger network, demonstrate flexibility, and adjust to new situations with dexterity and humor.

Ultimately, though, wouldn’t you want to be hired because someone thought ~ Hey! I know who would be just perfect for this project? Wouldn’t it be great if people gauged us more on direct experience and our full selves? But try it anyway – sketch one out on your lunch break. You’ll see yourself in a whole new light. I sure did.

I’d really like to hear about YOUR job-seeking. Tell me in the comments below how you opened up your last revenue stream and how, if at all, a resume was at play. (at play!) And if YOU’RE the one doing the hiring, how do you use a resume, if at all, in determining the outcome?

Thanks! Looking forward to hearing your stories…

{Addendum on Feb 3, 2012: From Seth Godin’s blog today:
Can I see your body of work?
Are you leaving behind an easily found trail of accomplishment?
Few people are interested in your resume any more. Plenty are interested in what you’ve done.
The second thing you’ll need to do is regularly note what you produce in a log or find some other way to keep track.
The first thing is more difficult: If the work you do isn’t worth collating and highlighting, you probably need to be doing better work.}

 

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