Is Your Resume A Career Obituary?

Don't let your resume be like this career obituary. Related: 7 Ways Your Resume Is Boring Just Like Everyone Else’s

Peter A. Professional’s Career, 2000 - 2012 Here lies Peter Professional's career. A victim of the current recession, Peter's career has been on life support since a layoff from a healthcare consulting firm. Prior to its final demise, Peter took his career through a stint as a personal fitness trainer and ended it working as a car salesman with a luxury-car dealership. Peter was a graduate of a prestigious university where he earned a degree in integrated science and technology. He immediately began employment as a tumor biology lab technician where he worked for two years before joining the consulting firm. While there, he "utilized empirical data and statistically significant best practices to influence positive change for client's capital efficiencies." In addition to the above, Peter was a certified phlebotomist, published numerous medical research papers, and played high school soccer. Peter's Career was only seven years old. In lieu of flowers, please send condolences to the guidance counselors and college advisors who failed to help Peter find his best career fit and the writer who created the erratic document referred to as his "resume."
I hope you get the picture. Although the name is obviously fictional, the rest of the information is unfortunately true. I know this, because I took it directly from his resume. Like many professionals, Peter never thought of his resume as a marketing document that targeted a specific audience with a promise of adding value. “I’m not really sure yet what I want to do,” he told me, “so I figured I’d just put it all in there so an employer could figure out how to use me.” And they sure did “use” him! To write an effective resume, don’t begin by looking back over your shoulder to see where you have been. I suspect your career path, like Peter’s, was rarely a straight line. Most careers zig and zag in many directions. Take some time to delve deeply into all of your experience.

Look for common themes.

  • What knowledge and skills did you most enjoy using that you want to take to your next job?
  • What types of problems do you most enjoy solving?
  • What words do others use to describe you?
  • What specific details can you pull from your experience to illustrate your answers? If you don’t know, you can hire a professional to help you.

Identify your target audience.

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • Who are their customers and what problems do they specialize in solving?
  • Talk to people in the industry. Read business and industry news. Print out job announcements and begin making a list of the knowledge, skills and experience employers seek in candidates.

Look for crossovers.

  • Who you are and what do you offer compared to what the employer wants and needs?
  • Identify the point where these two paths intersect and begin writing your resume from there.
  • When you look at your past, choose those items that are most relevant to your future and craft the content of your resume around them.
Don’t let your career suffer an untimely death – or worse yet, linger on life support for years (maybe even decades). Look ahead, identify your target, and then assemble and deploy the tools you need to get there. Make sure one of those tools is a well-crafted, strategically focused, and uniquely branded resume!

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