What message do hiring managers get when they read your resume? Without realizing it, you may be sending mixed messages. Aligning your job search with your current goals is a part of the resume-writing process many people don’t even stop to consider. As a result, resumes can sabotage your job search due to a presentation of mixed skills and conflicting messages about your goals. Be honest with yourself – what are your job search goals? Are you looking for more creative opportunities? A career switch? More money? What’s most important to you right now?
Whether you are aware of it or not, your resume communicates your feelings about the job search, present situation, and future goals. “Uncertainty” may be the strongest message hiring managers will get from your resume – a message not likely to instill confidence. In fact, such “confusion” will probably land your resume in the “slush pile” where it will not be read at all. However, careful analysis and simple organizational “tweaks” can make all the difference in getting your resume read and transform potential deficits into strengths.
Consider some basic questions about your job search. Are you asking “where’s the money”? Are you feeling unfulfilled and perhaps even unappreciated in your current career situation? Do you long for a change in your career or are you seeking more flexibility in your schedule? Do you have dreams of what you would really like to be doing but feel “stuck” just earning a living?
As a society, work expectations have changed drastically over the last couple of decades. It is assumed most people will have a minimum of 7 different positions throughout their work-lives. Realistically, it is probably twice as many – although that reality doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. What it actually represents is the culmination of the slow mentality shift away from “corporation as caretaker” that used to be part of a life-long career.
That change can give you greater flexibility, but with freedom comes responsibility – as the saying goes. Your responsibility is to figure out what you want for yourself – it’s never too late to decide what you want to be when you grow up (smile). Crucially, if you have not figured out what is most important to you in your search right now, your resume is likely to reflect that indecision. Take a few minutes and think about what you really want to do and then identify what you can do at this point in your career search.
Now, let’s get down to looking at your work experience. How consistent has your work history been? Do your positions demonstrate a clear progression of increasing responsibility or seem more like a “mash-up” of seemingly unrelated job experiences? The latter description can certainly work against you if not carefully crafted into a cohesive resume. These diverse experiences can become strengths and increase your value to an employer if “packaged correctly”. Diversity can be an asset in today’s complex work environment. If you are able to “connect the dots” for the employer by presenting a common thread that includes your passion for excellence, curiosity, and drive to make things happen, you can immediately move to the top of that pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk.
A varied work history – whether across industries or simply a number of different positions within the same field – doesn’t have to become an obstacle to the perfect job. A bit of planning can help determine optimal presentation at this point in your career.
A practical place to begin is with skills that can easily translate as strengths across industries. Common examples include communication, leadership skills, and strategic planning. You can start by thinking about how these “transferable skills” have been part of previous roles. Those are areas to emphasize as that common thread mentioned earlier – think about your strengths and make those skills the core of your resume and job search. Once you have done that, it is similar to decorating a family tree around the holidays – the ornaments in our analogy become those unique accomplishments you want proudly displayed in each specific position, while the “common thread” holds everything together.
Provide structure for your job search by presenting a resume to potential employers that sends the right message. Clarifying the purpose of the resume at this point in your life will present a cohesive “package” to hiring managers. An authentic representation will land the job because of the consistent clear message about your strengths and skills.
Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)