Archive for the ‘Resume Story’ category

Your Resume Is Not a Tweet

March 11, 2010

I read it, and I get it, and I buy-in to the 20-second ‘resume scan’ rule. Yet, I don’t  FULLY buy in. What I mean is, I don’t accept the implication by some that  your resume only gets a 10-, 20-, 30-second sweeping glance by the hiring manager, recruiter, HR. .. AND THAT’S IT (the end of the road for your resume).

I love how GL Hoffman discusses the lean resume concept by playfully experimenting with the idea of a  6-word resume over at his blog. I enjoy these thought-provoking experiments, and I believe Twitter and other social media vehicles are teaching us to write tighter and more thoughtfully. These exercises help us all do a better job of drilling down to our unique value statements for those quick quips and exchanges we ‘initially’ may have with someone in our networking group or during any aspect of job courting.

As well, your resume must be glimpseable and pithy to grab the attention of the reader so he will pluck yours from the stacks of lukewarm, unfocused resumes and call you in for the interview.

However, I fear we may get so caught up into thinking our resumes must be tweet-like and ultra-lean, that we miss out on an expanded opportunity to provide content- and story-rich value, with muscle and meat!

Job seekers, and those who are presently employed but actively engaged in their career management, let’s take a breath, please, and realize the value of your message, and the extended value of your words, moving from conversation to conversation and interview to interview, reinforcing and propelling your unique proposition of value.

Once it has reached the short stack, realize if written strategically and compellingly, the resume can and often WILL support your interview movement, represent your professional/executive presence and boost your momentum leading to the negotiation phases. Recently, one of my actively interviewing resume clients, expressed that value so well, saying this about his resume:  “It is absolutely a great presentation and value statement, and I love how it moves from all the lower level discussions to the higher level ones so quickly.”

If you honor the resume process, you will reap the return-on-time and intellectual investment deep into your interview engagements. The resume is your partner in the process of clarifying not only who you are but what you bring to the job-opportunity table. No longer a brief listing of where you were, when you were there and what you ‘did,’ the eloquent and compelling resume knits you intimately into the company’s story fabric.

Suddenly, they gasp, “Aha, I can no longer live without this person. He is the salve for our pain, the revenue driver for our lagging sales, the inspirer for our lackadaisical team …” (You get the drift).

Beyond that, once you’re contacted for the interview, your resume can guide the interview process (yes, it will not only land the interview, it will provide fuel for the interview conversation). As well, for group interviews, your resume is passed around among interviewers; and for deeper interview processes involving senior managers, executives and board members, their first impression of you is a read-through and sometimes, thorough examination of your resume BEFORE you walk through their doors for a face-to-face interview.

Yes, you heard right, a read-through: they are  actually reading through and scrutinizing your resume, judging you by your resume presence. Is it assumptive? Assuming they know your value? Tactical? Only providing the nuts and bolts of your career, but not really positioning you for their needs strategically? Is it boring? Yawn. Is it elementary in design? Again, like a pressed suit, polished shoes, coiffed hair and the tailored words that spew from your lips, your resume represents YOU at every critical stage of the interview conversation.

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Is your resume anemic?

February 13, 2010

Does the following describe your resume’s plight?

1. Anemic, weakened by lack of attention as it sits idly in your virtual computer drawer, untended and under-fed as your career purrs along.

2. Or perhaps, it was resuscitated by artificial means as a result of the panic you felt when you were suddenly laid off.

3. A heart stint strategically placed here to unplug a clogged resume artery, a pin there to bridge disconnected resume bones.

4. You gave it a quick facelift and a boost of botox to endear it to the modern masses.

5. As a result, your resume is an unwholesome reflection of its once healthy self.

Your resume is your career heartbeat. Feed it regularly, reevaluate and revisit your career health-care plan and reinvigorate your resume with fresh-from-the-vine, vitamin-enriched word stories to achieve a more robust career outlook and competitive edge.

Isn’t your career lifeblood worth the nurturing to boost your vitality in the career racetrack within which it will be expected to outperform other vital, story-enriched career positioning documents?

Due and Proper

February 3, 2010

Do you wake up every morning on time? Do you head to the shower and prepare your body with a cleansing for the work day ahead?

Men, do you step out of the shower and faithfully put your razor to work, ridding your face of offensive stubble that began creeping up on you around 5:00 the previous day?

Women, do you faithfully set about the task of applying make up and styling solutions to your face and locks, not to mention, working the curling iron, blow dryer and whatever other machinery produced by modern man to ready you for taking on the day?

And after these laborious tasks are completed do you not all head for whatever room contains your clothing for the day, and don the appropriate clothing, taking time to make sure this tie goes with this shirt and these shoes go with this skirt?

Day after day, week after week, those with deadlines and commitments pull ourselves from soothing slumber and stumble into our hostile environment. Maybe we’re not fighting a dinosaur for our next meal, but we certainly face our share of challenges that can make facing off with a tyrannosaurus rex seem like child’s play.

Eight, 10, sometimes 14 hours later, we head to our cars, or trains or cabs or whatever conveyance got us to work, and we head home. Beat up, bruised and battered by the events of the work day, we walk through the door of our homes, shoulders slumped, hair a mess, make-up in dire need of restoration, stubble on our chins that we know tomorrow morning will have to be removed, yet again.

Finally after years of toiling for the fire-breathing figure who sits in the corner office, you are called into said office where the figure bestows upon you a great honor.

You can hardly contain yourself.

The moment you leave the office you begin telling everyone how they gave you a promotion. You call your spouse, your best friend, your children , your next door neighbor, your mailman, the guy at 7/11 that you always thought was a little strange. You tell them all, “They gave me a promotion” , “ I’m the head of ——-“ .

Oh,boy, oh boy.

Now, wait a minute, you! They didn’t g i v e you that promotion.  You earned it by grinding whatever griss the mill required. You stayed late to finish the project; you fought bumper to bumper traffic to and fro each day, you showed up every day on time and took the lead when no one else would.

There was no grace involved by the powers that made the decision to promote you. They studied you, they watched you, and they knew by promoting you, based on your own hard work and self sacrifice, they would, in most cases, add to their bottom line. This is, after all, what the free enterprise system is all about. Is it not?

What a shame it would be to allow all that you’ve been through to go unappreciated because you felt it unnecessary to invest in a resume that shines adequate light on your accomplishments. That simple little form that lets the world know, “Hey, man I’ve been tried by the fire and not only survived, but thrived!”

There is a very high likelihood that someday you’ll leave your current place of servitude, and when you do, the next powers that you apply to won’t have the luxury of watching you grow into what you have become and base their decision on that when it comes to hiring you.

They will only have that all important document that you hand them.

So, when the corner office calls, will you be ready?

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Written by Robert P. Poindexter:  Blogger, Sales Executive and Sailor

Nipped and Tucked Resumes

January 26, 2010

In many cases, just a single year or two at a new position will infuse your resume with a plethora of new content that if plugged in too hastily, will create a patchwork coat effect: It may serve a practical purpose at a very base level but it will not turn heads, evoke a visceral reaction and inspire the meaningful, targeted interview call that, as a job hunter, you seek.

Nourished Career Bodies Require Resume Refitting

Not only is a resume update comprised of new resume content to fit the evolving shape of your career body, but older, faded, stretched career fabric needs tightened, trimmed and emboldened to align with the new information.

As an example, over the seven years we’ve collaborated,  Jennifer has hired me for three iterations of her resume. When she originally approached me in 2002, Jennifer’s career focus was Operations. The majority of her professional experience to that point had been spent contributing to operational and financial software machinations inside a major telecommunications company.

Within just a few years, Jennifer returned for an update, and her career fabric had expanded to include adjunct experience in a new industry (not-for-profit) versus the major, Fortune 500, publicly held company of her past. As well, she had been instrumental in leading a change management initiative and start-up effort that transformed the organization’s direction and goals.

Most recently, Jennifer circled back to me for another ‘simple update’ after having driven culture change at an even larger not-for-profit entity with multi locations. Moreover, Jennifer sought to reposition herself in a for-profit organization, having run her career course in the not-for-profit sector.

She needed my help in determining how to reposition her resume to showcase her last several years’ not-for-profit experience in a light that mapped to private sector; as such, the Profile section as well as the Performance Overview (chronology) section, were critical areas in which to spotlight a commingling of her last seven-years’ experience.

Not only had her career fabric expanded, but her audience was shifting, requiring new folds of career fabric be patterned and stitched together to present a whole new career suit that would appeal to today’s trends and to her current target industry.

In both update collaborations, resume updating required significant rewriting and strategy (versus a quick, easy update process).

In both collaborations, just a few driving questions allowed me to talk her down from the ‘I need a quick, simple update’ vantage point and redirect her vision that the resume update was much more involved.

It required careful introspection as to how her recent several-years’ experience/achievements/leadership learnings mapped to her goals. As well, it required deeper assessment and specificity in communicating her go-forward goals.

Career Stagnation Is Not an Option

What I’ve also found, in working with Jennifer and many other job hunters over the last 12 years is that virtually no one I’ve ever written for – no matter their career level, from entry to senior-level – has wanted to remain stagnant in their job or career. Even when they perceived their job move as lateral, they always wanted something different — or more — in regard to day-to-day tasks and challenges.

How Do You Determine Your Resume Update Needs?

Trying to determine whether a strategic approach to revamping–vs. ‘simply updating’–your resume is in needed? Ask yourself some or all of the following questions:

  • What have you been doing the last year, two years, etc. at your current/new job (i.e., what have been your department’s, division’s, company’s, YOUR overarching goals/results)?
  • How is this different from what you were doing last time you updated, or originally wrote, your resume?
  • What are you most proud of doing in the past year, etc.? Why does this matter to your target audience?
  • How would you describe your ideal ‘next position?’ Type of role? Title? Company? Industry?
  • If you look at the Headline/Profile/Summary of your ‘current’ resume, would you feel it represents your go-forward (target) goals of types of position you are seeking? Why or why not?
  • Think specifically vs. impulsively what your resume’s current state of being is (whether it’s an outdated career cloak befitting viewing by a past career generation or whether it is a modern-audience-attracting resume), then note the differences in what you would like your resume to attract as your next great opportunity (your go-forward goals) versus what your were vying to attract last time you updated your resume.
  • As well, consider the evolving resume design strategies and the value to revisiting / amending certain aspects of the layout to reinvigorate and perhaps boost the competitiveness of your career positioning tool (especially important in this still very tough market).

All of the above questions and talk points are critical to determining whether you truly require a ‘simple resume update.’ High-performing resumes require ongoing maintenance, overhaul and strategic attention.

In most cases, career resume fabric, like that in a well-worn suit, becomes stretched, faded and dated in time. A nip and tuck of fabric may impulsively feel like the easy choice to maintain a career resume suited for the job; however, in many cases, your career fabric needs reshaped and replaced to best enhance your nimble and more muscular career form.

I want to credit The Recruiting Animal for inspiring this post with his unique take on how a Resume Writer Is like a Tailor over at RecruitingBloggers.com, in a blog post, “The Resume Writer.”

Resume Is Your Career Heartbeat

January 14, 2010

Okay, I get it: the ‘traditional resume is dead.’ May we put a stake through this aging topic and just bury it, along with the tombstone resume?

Savvyresumes, by contrast, are not only alive and well, but they have matured, become more sophisticated and muscular, and are more essential now, than ever.

Just yesterday I witnessed a resume that had been forged like a finely carved weapon doing battle for a soldier in job search, and winning the war against unemployment; and the day before that, a pithy and powerful company-targeted resume appealing to the desperation of an over-worked hiring manager underwhelmed with compelling candidates.

As such, it continues to perplex me, the continual interjection of this disruptive question, popularized in the stream of Twitter and other social media. It goes something like this:Is the resume passé? Further, is it being wedged out by social media?

My pondering response (answering a question with more questions):

  • Will the complexity of social media: with all of its arteries and veins linking me to this Twitter profile and LinkedIn profile and VisualCV profile, and directing me to that blogging site or that specialist webfolio  ‘replace’ the resume?
  • Will hiring decision-makers be required to piece together candidates’ value proposition from dozens of resources, linking interlocking and innocuously shaped puzzle pieces to initially discover just a brief career snapshot?
  • Will this value-digging rigor be required to gain traction in choosing who to initially interview? Will being an investigative reporter be a requirement to even select to converse with a potential candidate?
  • Does a candidate’s presence on the complex and often clogged social media highway replace a tightly and singularly focused resume intended to ‘sum up’ value in crisp, coherent language?

My initial and sustaining thoughts: Noooo, of course not!

It’s simple, the resume, defined by Dictionary.com as ‘a summing up’ will ALWAYS be the central hub from which social media message spokes attach. Or, put another way, the resume is the heartbeat, and the social media vehicles are the veins and arteries that transport the heart blood out and about to the critical organs of job search.

Bottom line: It’s about thewords; precise, compelling and targeted words. So, slow down, create your resume ‘hub,’ THEN begin promoting your value message through the spokes of the vast and cascading social media space.

There’s a Hole in Your Story, Sir

January 8, 2010

So on       morning, I got up around        , and decided it was time I finally took care of that        which had been bugging my wife and I for quite some. I fixed myself a couple of         with some        on the side, then headed out the           to pick up the items necessary to complete the         at hand.

Soon enough I found myself speaking with a knowledgeable            at the         store and he was able to give me some much needed            . I got the           back home and right away figured out the       was missing. So back to the         I went. I hate making more than     trip when I set out to accomplish something, especially something as important as getting the         fixed so we can finally start using the        .  I was able to locate the        that had helped me earlier and expressed my dissatisfaction with him by          in the          . Well that certainly got his attention, and  he was much more           this time . He wanted to be absolutely sure I got the         and wouldn’t come back to         him in the          again.

Long story         , I finally got everything set up right and wife and I can again           . What a           .

You may have noticed that a few words, a few key words were missing from the story above. If you went back and read it several times just to make sure you weren’t missing anything, you weren’t. Many of the words left out, most people could fill in themselves and come to the correct conclusion. Some of the missing words could only be filled in by the author for the story to make any sense.

How often people will turn in a resume that makes about as much sense to a hiring manager as the story above makes to you. Just one missing piece of information could very well send your resume to the land of no return; no matter how qualified you may be for the position.

Hiring a professional resume writer will help you fill in the blanks, making sure the reader is getting a clear and concise message of who you are and why you are the best candidate for the open post.

You’ve worked too hard for the awards and promotions you’ve earned to allow one missing word here or there to completely dive bomb your chances for success.

~~~~~

Written by Robert P. Poindexter:  Blogger, Sales Executive and Sailor

Rules of Resume Story Length: Perception or Reality?

January 17, 2009

I am acutely aware of the varying opinions on what constitutes a Branded and High-Impact executive resume. I also appreciate the recommendations by some of my colleagues, that an Exec Resume must be limited to absolute brevity at 2 pages.

I’m of the belief that an executive resume can be 2 or 3 pages (some, even upward to 4 pages!), as long as the first page creates almost a ‘standalone’ snap-off story (not reliant on pages 2-3). With a writer’s/journalist’s training, I understand the design and word-smith strategies to be both content driven and crisp. As long as the executive’s story is written in a glimpseable format with the takeaway highlights and value prop tightly knit and showcased throughout, then the length becomes less relevant.

Often, executive recruiters tell me they LOVE the stories that I tell on behalf of clients – and they crave such content — not to rule the candidate OUT, but to help rule them in [i.e., provide substance behind the results ($$##%%) and nuance behind the leadership strategy that compels them to want to meet that person.]

Posted by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW