Career Advice, Featured, Resumes

Ask a Resume Writer: How Can I Stop Obsessively Tweaking My Resume?

“I’m going nuts getting my resume into shape. Just when I think it’s ready to use, I’ll get a piece of feedback or read an article that completely goes against what I’ve done to date. How can I move past this?”

Signs that you’ve succumbed to “resume madness” include pouring endless hours into editing the document, doubting whether it really represents you at all, and getting so frustrated that you want to throw in the towel before a single interview’s on the books!

Here is my suggested course of treatment:

1. Accept that a resume, by itself, has never landed anyone a job.

Imagine that you’re car shopping and a vehicle catches your eye. The paint job is immaculate and draws you in. But when you step inside and turn the key in the ignition, the engine won’t start. Would you buy this car

Of course not.

To those jobseekers who believe that “cracking the code” of a great resume will magically result in offers, it must be said: stop fussing over just the paint job and make sure the entire vehicle works!

Beyond a good resume, here are some other must-haves:

-Some kind of system for creating and nurturing new industry relationships (either that, or be prepared to sink endless hours “blind submitting” your resume and praying for an interview)

-A solid interview strategy. Ideally, one that moves quickly from general questions about strengths, weaknesses, etc. and into the things you’ll need to handle within the first 30/60/90 days.

-“Social Proof.” What do people see when they Google your name? How effective is your LinkedIn Profile, and how robust is your network? Your online presence should lend credibility to what’s on your resume, not undermine it.

Those who lock down the best offers are working across all of these fronts, not just the resume. Which means the faster you get it into a solid state, the faster you can diversify your approach and make real progress.

2. Use the 80/20 Principle

80% of what makes a resume great comes down to 20% of what’s on the page. Identify and build upon that 20% and you’ll have an effective document. Here’s how:

-Identify the 3-4 skills you bring to the table that are most valuable to employers looking to hire for your target position. For example, if you’re looking to land a Chief Marketing Officer position, a quick review of the LinkedIn Profiles of people who currently have this job, as well as relevant job postings, could lead you to conclude that these skills are most valuable:

-Track record of success in digital/social media marketing.

-Experience with developing corporate partnerships and creating/leading integrated marketing partnerships.

-Passion for engaging meaningfully with consumers and standing out amidst the “noise.” Background of delivering results in direct-to-consumer marketing initiatives.

These 3 ideas should form the “skeleton” of your resume. Highlight this in 3 ways:

-Right at the start of your resume, include a few bullet points that immediately highlight these skills.

-Create a “Core Competencies” (or keyword section) that calls out these skills. Examples would be Digital Marketing, Brand Awareness, Online Marketing, and Strategic Partnerships.

-Use the “Professional Experience” section to call out accomplishments and successes which DIRECTLY RELATE to target skills. List the result first, then describe how it was achieved. If you’ve got numbers to back up your claims, use them!

3. Keep it to 2 pages.

Will your resume get tossed if it’s 1 or 3 pages long? Probably not (as long as it’s not boring). But for the VAST MAJORITY of jobseekers out there, 2 pages hits the sweet spot between effective branding, and providing JUST enough detail to make your background pop. Once you’ve established 10-12 years of stable work history, everything else can either be consolidated or eliminated outright. Expert tip: insert a brief “Career Note” that accounts for any gaps lasting longer than a few months.

4. Strip away buzzwords and industry jargon.

Oprah Winfrey doesn’t describe herself as a “confident self-starter,” Elon Musk doesn’t brand himself as a “dynamic change agent” and you should follow their lead! Employers have wised up to the fact that a resume that’s jam-packed with buzzwords is simply code for “I didn’t take the time to crystallize what I bring to the table.” Keep it simple, keep it clear, and make sure you impress regardless of whether someone’s in your industry or not.

BEFORE:

Self-driven leader who can deliver major YoY revenue gains through a dynamic mix of high-level brand engagement, digital and social media marketing, strategic partnerships and customer loyalty programs.

AFTER:

True passion for helping global brands tell their story. Can take a multi-pronged approach to growth that includes developing new digital and social media assets, establishing alliances with companies which share our vision and values, and rewarding customers for their loyalty.

And one last point: embrace the incompleteness. It’s perfectly fine to leave some questions unanswered on the resume, as long as what you do include highlights clear fit for the role. If an employer wants the full story, they can call you in for an interview.

 

Anish Majumdar is a nationally recognized Career Coach, Executive Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Expert. Connect with him on LinkedIn to receive daily career tips and guidance. 

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