Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to make sure your resume stands out every time

I’m not going to blow your mind with any profound or original idea when I tell you this:

Getting a job is tough.

But the thing is – something being tough, or challenging, doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility.

Most things that are tough require effort – and in this day and age, the best things require extra time and effort.

And yet, when it comes to applying for jobs, sometimes the process can feel so time-consuming, stressful, nerve-racking, and boring that you can find yourself rushing through a key element of a job hunt.

The resume.

If you feel an internal "ugh" when you read this word don't worry - I'm with you. Resumes are so time consuming and often connote impending rejection. 

And while resume writing is only one aspect of your job hunt, it is proven to be a powerful one. Getting it right can serve you well. 

But there is a very common mistake some people make with their resumes: they send the same one out to every person. 

Your resume is kind of like a handshake, or a knock on the door – it is the first instinctual moment of forward momentum and opportunity.

Have you ever met someone who didn't look you in the eye when they shook your hand, and whose personal spiel felt fake, like they say the same thing to everyone?

That is what it is like when you write one resume and send it out to dozens of employers.

Because like most things – there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to resumes.Whether you realize it or not, you have a plethora of experiences, classes, and job duties you can put on your resume. Which ones you share and how you share them should depend entirely on each individual job description.

See why I feel "ugh" when I hear the word resume? This is not fun. It's not easy. So why am I sharing it with you on a blog?

Because it will get you a job.

This will take time, so resist the temptation to breeze through the process. Sending out lots of one-size-fits-all resumes is like playing the one of those ridiculous power-ball-whatever lottery games. Hope is high because there is so much money at stake, but the chances of winning are so, so very low.

Those who get the job are those who are willing to do that extra work; instead of gambling one resume on dozens, or even hundreds of application, each one is focused, tailored, and personalized.
How do you do this?
  • Have a document that lists all of your accomplishments, awards, classes, degrees, and any significant experience you've had in your life thus far (e.g. jobs, volunteer work, leadership in a club/organization, etc.) that you continue to update throughout your life.
  • Under each job, leadership experience, or volunteer experience, write out the results of what you accomplished in each job (e.g. recruited 20 volunteers for lake cleanup). Do not limit yourself. Describe the results, duties, and accomplishments of everything you've done so far fully.
  • Then, for each job, choose the top 2-4 results that showcase skills that the job is specifically looking for. Change the language around if you need to in order to use words specifically in the job description. 
  • In the objective section of the resume, do not say what you are looking for, instead, explain which top 3 of your best and most specific skills you hope to contribute to help that specific company reach one of its specific goals in the specific role they are looking to fill. (notice a key word here?) ;)
This takes practice, time, and effort. But I promise it will also get results. And if you aren't sure how to write a certain job duty to relate to a specific job posting, feel free to send me the job description and a job duty or two and I'll show you how to tailor it at advice@communitycollegesuccess.com

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