2631535001_2090a40ca2_mIf there is one thing that people can probably recognize during a recession over anything else, it’s that anyone could find themselves out looking for work without warning.  This fact is one that simply reinforces the ideas in this article but I can’t urge enough that this has nothing to do with good or bad times and has everything to do with being responsible for your own career.  That is why you should always develop a great resume, a reference resume and be ready to use it on demand.  The last thing

Don’t Wait Until You Need a Resume

Whether you have been working at the same company for 10 years or have changed jobs every 6 months or are out of work, the best thing you can do to keep more career options open is to develop a great resume.  A resume is the tool that gets you an interview and it’s that all so important first impression of you.  Many people make the mistake of thinking that the resume is not that important and that it’s the interview that really matters, while that may be true for getting an offer, it isn’t true for getting that first call for an interview in the first place and so if you don’t get called, it will never do you any good.  The resume and cover letter are the first step, the interview the second and the negotiation is the third.  Each are all important and should be handled separately and carefully with any job search.

So don’t wait until you need a resume before you ever put any time into it.  Your resume is one of several of your career tools and it needs to be maintained to get the most out of it.  At any point in your career, you could come across a surprising layoff or cutback or a new job opportunity even if you are happy where you are.  It’s best to be prepared for that and have a ready and waiting resume that is up to date.  Put some time in a few times a year to review your accomplishments and update the content you have on your resume.  This is especially important if you have been with the same company for some time.  Updating your resume frequently will help you to capture your best accomplishments as your position at that company has progressed and it is a lot easy to think back over the last few months than it is over the last few years.

Resume Content

You should always have a resume to use as reference with all of you accomplishments and jobs over your entire career.  You use this as a reference since it will contain much more than you ever should deliver to a hiring company.  Keep a reference copy for yourself with all the detail you could ever need and then when you deliver a resume for a particular job, you have content you can pick and choose from that is most applicable to that job you are seeking.  The resume you actually deliver should always be tailored for the job, with relevant accomplishments and positions listed and nothing more.  As a hiring manager who has reviewed literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of resume’s I’ve seen that far too many people include a generic resume with all of their experience and no attention or focus on the most relevant points and experience.

Keep your resume short (1 page or 2 at the most) with specific points under each experience time frame that demonstrates the qualities expected for the role you are seeking.  Your points should always be based on the results you got and the accomplishments you had in doing the related tasks, don’t waste any space listing what the responsibilities were.  An interviewer or hiring manager is much happier learning about your responsibilities by seeing what you accomplished with those responsibilities.  Those accomplishments should be the areas you can talk about in the interview as well and will ensure you stand out from the competition.

Don’t put character traits or a description of yourself on your resume.  If you can’t prove it from the results and accomplishments you list, it won’t be believed anyway.  Saying that you are a hard working dedicated employee who loves to excel in their work and deliver results towards the goals of the organization is completely useless on a resume. Let your experience, references and interview demonstrate that for you.

Customizing a Resume for a Job

An objective is a great item to include on your resume, but ONLY if it is specific to the job being sought, for example fitted wardrobes.  Trust me, nothing kills a candidates chances more than a vague objective proving they don’t know what they want.  Either make your objective specific to each job that you apply at or don’t include one.  A specific objective shows confidence and demonstrates the candidate is looking for the right job, not just any job they can get, which is very important if you want to stand out from the competition.

Next, your work experience and detail or summary points within each should be selected carefully for each job.  As mentioned above you should make your points about accomplishments and results in each role you’ve had and then pick those according to the role you are applying for. Ideally, your reference resume after you’ve spent time building it up with 10-20 accomplishments and results will leave you with a great set of items to choose from.  If you are applying for a technical role, pick the technical points that most demonstrate your abilities to succeed in that area.  If it’s for a leadership position then pick the points that show accomplishments where you have influenced a team or helped others to perform well in your previous work.  Select only 4 or 5 of your most appropriate points for each position.  You can leave an impression that that covers only a small amount of your accomplishments (which should be true anyway) by titling your experience areas according to the job as well.

For example, if you are applying for a technical writer position, then label your experience section of your resume as “Technical Writing Experience” and labels your points or details as a summary of your accomplishments.  This leaves you with more to share if you are selected for an interview.

Additional Thoughts

Keep in mind most resumes are only looked at for a minute or less and so you don’t want anyone reading or even glancing over things that are not relevant and that is why you should only include the best examples and experience you have. If they like what they read, you’ve done your job and this will make you much more likely to get an interview.

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