This post was prompted by a friend who contacted me because she needed help writing a resume. Before I started fiction writing full time, which I am really only able to do financially because of my husband’s financial support and our collective investment, I was an administrative specialist at a community center. One of my primary duties included helping people to write resumes, complete job applications, mock interviews, and basically the overall job search campaign which included sometimes adult tutoring, especially in the area of computers.
The increase in technology has changed the way that we view everything. From book publishing, printing, and even resume writing. Thing is, you don’t have to do so much writing anymore. What happens now is that your resume will go through a screening process by a computer, which looks up Keywords as it relates to that particular market. If your resume “passes”, that is to say those keywords were found, it will move on to the recruiters’ desk. If your resume “fails” however, it will not even be seen by the employer. Sounds unfair I know but that’s the world we live in.
To make matters easy, you really only need a few sections and minimal writing skills to build a presentable resume:
• Objective OR Professional Profile
• Career History
• Educational Background
You can add references as well but that’s even becoming extinct in the area of most importance on a resume (most places want your references during the interview or post resume process). What’s the most important bullet point here? It’s not your educational background, not even your employment history. These days, employers want to hire people they can train and mold into their ideal company representative so there’s a lot of people being rejected because of being “overqualified”. That’s because employers are not really looking for the most intelligent anymore. They are looking for someone who knows how to follow basic instructions and who will not challenge the company’s authority more so than how many degrees someone has. Even when it comes to experience, someone with these basic skills can be hired in a larger capacity than someone with years of job experience in that area. The most important section of your resume today is the “Skills” section.
Depending on what kind of job you’re looking for, make a list of your skills as it relates to that particular position. Write it on a spare piece of paper or whatever but just write down as many as you can. Go to your resume and under “Skills” list them all. Here’s an example of someone applying to a job in the area of Social Media Specialist:
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Brand Identity
• Twitter Management
• Digital Asset Management
• Media Planning /Buying
• Facebook Advertising
• Market Research
• Technology Implementation
• Project Management
• Blogging /Blog Commenting
You may notice I included terms like “Blogging”, “Facebook Advertising”, and “Twitter Management”. This may not seem important but it is, leave nothing out. Any skill you have can be listed here. Sometimes people are looking for employment without really having had a job before and they think they have no skills. You’re alive and breathing aren’t you? Then you have skills! Everyone has something they can do or that they are good at. I don’t care if it’s babysitting, that’s something you can write down. It’s all about understanding the language. Turn “I watch my sister’s children” into keywords like:
• Child Care Development < you are responsible for their well-being
• Cooking / Meal Preparation < you cook for the children
• Creative Initiative < you have to find something for them to do
• Cleaning / Antiseptic Management < you clean up after the children
This will ensure your resume gets through the computer screening process. Now all you really have to do is polish up the other parts of the resume. It is also important, in my opinion, to have more than one resume for the different jobs to which you are applying. This is because a resume for Lead Cook at a restaurant will not look the same, or have the same keywords, as a resume for a school teacher. It is also important to update your resume at least yearly. If you change jobs often, every six months.
Remember, the resume is not designed to get you the job which is a truth I think many of us lose sight of. If you aren’t hired it’s not because your resume was bad, it’s because of other key factors that play a role. Your resume’s job is not to get you the job, its job is to get your foot in the door and by foot in the door I mean: past the screening, into the recruiters’ hands and your butt in the Interview chair.
Note: Oh, and if you can, try to limit your resume to one page. It looks more professional. Here’s a sample: