Sunday, December 21, 2014

Don't Let Perfection be the Enemy of a Good Resume

If you are a high achiever looking for a new job, this blog posting is for you. Have you written 80% of your resume but you are stuck on the last 20%? Are you paralyzed by your need to make your resume perfect? It's likely you are letting "the perfect be the enemy of the good."  This is an aphorism attributed to the writings of the French philosopher Voltaire, who recognized the dangers of perfectionism more than two centuries ago. 

Our need to achieve absolute perfection may lead to diminishing returns. If this rings true for you, give yourself permission to craft a solid resume that is really good but not perfect. Think but don't over-think every decision. 

Here are six basics we believe will help you get out of your own way and equip you to craft an impactful, winning resume:
  1. Align your resume with the requirements for each position. This may mean you will have to tweak your resume before you apply for each job. Industries may have different terminologies for the same functions. Your resume should speak to each industry. For example, you may need to use the words "talent development" for one industry and "professional development" for another. How will you know which term to use? Study job postings and articles on the internet.
  2. Place a title and a brief summary of your qualifications at  the top of your resume to grab the reader's attention. For example, the title might be TALENT DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE. Just below that would be a short paragraph of 2-4 sentences summarizing your experience.
  3. Core Competencies in Short Bullet Points May Add Value. Adding three rows of two or three competencies aligned with the requirements of each position often is a helpful way of providing reader-friendly keywords to the top section of your resume. This list should include hard skills and not soft ones like highly organized, good time management skills, or effective communicator. 
  4. Summarizing Key Business Impact or Accomplishments before listing employment history also may add value for the resumes of seasoned professionals. We recommend 3-4 accomplishments using metrics where possible. If you are a newer professional, it is more effective to list achievements in the employment section.
  5. Employment Experience should go next followed by education, certifications, technical skills, and other key information. If you have a long tenure at a job, you probably will need to break your descriptions into sections with bolded headings to help guide the reader. Those sections should include key competencies listed in each job posting.
  6. Present Your Skills in Terms of Achievements, Results, or Impact.  Where possible, craft as many achievements as possible using metrics. We use two different charts to help people think in terms of results. Our Key Word Resume Builder helps the job seeker to align his accomplishments with particular job requirements. Our Accomplishments Resume Builder uses the SAR technique (Situation, Action & Results) to help quantify achievements. People who have used either chart have found this preparation also helps them prepare for interviews.
In past blog posts, we have provided some examples of achievements. Here are a few: Resumes: What Hiring Managers Want in 2011;  Resume Keywords - The What, Why, and How; and The Top of Your Resume IS Important. But don't take our word for it. Take a minute to study this excellent article with good examples of achievements, How to Write a Resume That Stands Out, written by Amy Gallo on the Harvard Business Review Blog, December 19, 2014. This is one of many writings emphasizing what employers want so see. If you have accomplished great things elsewhere, you are likely to be viewed as the right person for the job.

If you find you are getting stuck, remember not to "let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Then review your resume with that in mind and let it go.
Randi S. Lewis, Esq., CEIP  |  Resume Boutique LLC  |  Blog
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