Thursday, June 26, 2008

Would You Rather Do Your Taxes Than Write Your Resume?

I find that most people hate searching for a job, and especially hate writing their own resume. Even writers, marketers, and journalists who write for a living…hate writing a resume.

I think it’s because the process is so foreign. All the rules have changed, so resume writing is a different skill with different strategies than just a few years ago. Add to that all of the conflicting advice a job seeker gets – no wonder it’s more painful than a root canal without Novocain.

So job seekers have a task that they rarely do, feel they’re not very good at, the rules have dramatically changed in the past few years, everyone has a different opinion (usually conflicting), and it’s a task you feel guilty about not being comfortable with – because it’s writing about yourself!

So what do you do? Of course you could hire someone to write it for you, but you’ll still need something to start with. Here’s some help:

1) Schedule a day to write. Plan nothing else that day, so you’ll have time to procrastinate, and still get the job done. Choose someplace quiet – get a babysitter if you have to and go someplace else. Exercise first, to get the blood flowing, and the endorphins humming. And have a fresh pot of coffee. If you don’t have a laptop, arrange out of house activities for the kids, so you’ll have the house to yourself.

2) Use a template to start. There are resume templates everywhere, from the major job boards to alumni sites, or just Google resume template. Don’t sweat it which template to use. This will be a draft, and you’ll change it many times.

3) Don’t try to write a final copy when you are starting. Your resume is an iterative process. Even for a draft, you’ll want to have a process of writing then reviewing….a few times. You’re bound to find things to change for at least 3 review, minimum.

4) Take a break. After you’ve done a first draft, take a break. Go for a walk, or a run, or just get away from your resume. Take an hour, clear your head, and come back fresh to do a critical read and edit.

5) Have others review. It’s next to impossible to write a good resume without a third party reviewer. The reviewer will read it from a readers’ perspective, a difficult viewpoint for the subject of the resume…you.

6) Don’t worry about conflicting information. Plan on it, you’ll get conflicting advice – it’s going to happen. When you get conflicting information on your resume, I suggest you thank the person for their input, and make your choice of who’s advice makes sense for you. After all, it’s your resume at the end of the day.

7) Spelling, grammar, format, tabs, margins, fonts all matter. You only get two chances to be perfect in your life – when you’re born, and on your resume. You’ll be competing with hundreds, or thousands of other applicants for a single opening. Why would a HR reviewer or hiring manager choose an imperfect resume, when they see almost limitless numbers of perfect ones?

8) Don’t settle. Don’t settle for ok, good, or good enough for your resume. With the amount of competition you’ll face, your resume has to be stellar, exemplary….because your competition is. Hiring managers see only the top 2-3 % of resumes. So good enough just isn’t good enough anymore.

9) Stop procrastinating. I know you dread this…everyone does. I feel your pain. Now gut up and start.

So…what are you waiting for? Get typing!

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

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