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Ask a Resume Writer: Where Do I Start?

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated December 18, 2017

“I need a new job, but don’t have a resume. Where do I start?”

Daunting, isn’t it? Go down the Internet “black hole” and you’ll be greeted by scores of resume experts touting (often contradictory) advice and “done for you” templates that look pretty but do nothing to address the CONTENT (which accounts for 99.9% of a resume’s success).

Don’t get overwhelmed by it all!

Start by taking the pressure of having a “perfect” resume off of yourself.

Take it from someone who’s spent over a decade building them on behalf of job seekers: there is no such thing.

A resume is a living document that is always changing to suit your goals. Get the baseline details right and you can always keep improving it.

So let’s assume you’re staring at a blank page. What do you do?

Step 1: Figure Out Precisely What You Want

Thinking about the job you want after you’ve developed a resume is like trying to find customers after building a product- a recipe for failure.

So start at the opposite end.

  • Hop on LinkedIn and run searches for candidates who are 1 to 2 levels “up” from where you are today. What types of roles do they have?
  • Hop onto Glassdoor and execute a “deep dive” on target companies. Which ones pique your interest?
  • Create a shortlist of target roles. Save the LinkedIn Profiles of competitors.
  • Create a shortlist of dream companies. Follow these companies on LinkedIn to stay apprised of new opportunities.

This is your compass.

And here’s the best part: by taking this initial step, you’ve just avoided the NUMBER ONE mistake people make with their resume. Congrats!

Step 2: Identify Your Core

Reinventing your resume for each and every job posting is a huge waste of time, largely ineffective…and a path to madness! It’s important to remember that a job posting is just a SKETCH of what an employer would like to see. What actually drives offers (beyond having basic qualifications) is someone who has the courage and self-understanding to promote a clear POV.

This POV is all about your Core Skills, those things you excel at which MUST play a part in whatever role you decide to accept.

Reflect on the different jobs you’ve held and ask yourself: what were the most fulfilling moments? What were the situations that didn’t have to have a good outcome, but which I was able to turn around? What projects or actions did I take which made me feel like I was tapping into my true potential? Expert tip: these don’t have to be metrics-driven. It’s about identifying what really matters to YOU.

Jot down these success stories (very rough format is fine). Now make a list of the SKILLS you used to make them happen. For example, let’s say you’re a senior Marketing leader in Pharmaceuticals, and recently launched a new blockbuster drug. Some of the skills you used to make this happen could include Global Product Launch, Marketing Communications, and Strategic Partnerships.

These skills form the heart of your CORE, the essence of what you can do at a higher altitude than others.

Step 3: Cross-Reference

Here’s where we get really strategic about applying the work we’ve done. Pull out that list of LinkedIn competitors and do a thorough analysis of their profiles. What types of HEADLINES do they use to describe themselves? What PAIN POINTS do they address in their LinkedIn Summary sections? What skills are they most frequently endorsed for?

Circle those skills which OVERLAP with your core skills. You have just identified the sweet spot between what you have to offer, and what employers are looking for. And in doing so, you’ve just vaulted over a sea of directionless, passion-less resumes clamoring for attention.

Step 4: Promote, Promote, Promote

A resume with a strong, simple Core at its center will ALWAYS outperform one that’s trying to do a hundred things at once. Remember: your goal is to communicate unique value and give employers just enough to say, “Bring this person in for an interview!” Going overboard can actually lessen this desire, and make you seem desperate.

Use the opening section of your resume to powerfully communicate your Core. Think in terms of a few short bullet points that answer the question, “Why should I pay attention to you?”

Here are some examples:

-Track record of double-digit market share gains in heavily regulated industries, both in launching new products and expanding the reach of existing product lines.  

- Can maintain full ownership of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and serve as a “bridge” between executive leadership, technical teams, and stakeholders.

-Veteran team builder who knows how to lead from a place of empowerment, not fear. Robust sales force and marketing training experience (U.S. and Global).

Now that your opening sets the right expectations, KEEP RETURNING to your Core when developing the professional experience section, which details the various roles you’ve held. Expand upon the Core Stories you’ve developed. And don’t be afraid to repeat yourself if it means further establishing credibility. That’s ok!


Anish Majumdar is an internationally recognized Career Coach, Executive Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Expert. His posts and videos reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. 

Take part in Anish's free webinar training on Generating New Career Opportunities ON DEMAND in the Age of LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2nT3Tfc


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