A Deeper Look: What to Consider the Next Time You Write a Resume
We’re living in a weird time. The concept of social media and digital connection is not new. However, COVID-19 pushed us into an almost fully digital world. With Zoom, Skype, Teams, FaceTime, or an array of other video platforms, not so long ago we engaged in virtual meetings, happy hours, hangouts, cooking classes, therapy sessions, date nights, and workouts. Some of it has stayed.
As the world evolves, we need to be aware of and make the necessary changes to stand out among others when applying to jobs. This is especially true for resumes.
On the surface, most of us know what a resume is: a one-page (for those in the back, yes one page) document that contains a bullet-pointed list of our professional experience, expertise, education and/or community involvement. The goal of a resume is to land an interview (more on this in a separate post). Seems pretty straightforward.
But how boring is it to think of yourself, a dynamic and lively human being, as a one-dimensional, bullet-pointed list on a piece of paper? No wonder so many of us hate writing resumes. What if, instead, we visualized a resume as our personal storyboard? In that story, we add different chapters about our professional lives: innate strengths, learned skills, professional networks, and practiced expertise.
The next time you’re typing bullets in Word, I urge you to take time to reflect on the following to find more meaningful ways to bring life to the page.
I’ve heard some refer condescendingly to young professionals, specifically millennials, as “special snowflakes.” And to that I respond in the most positive way, you’re damn right. Each one of us brings something different to the proverbial table. We are all unique. Just like, say, snowflakes.
To be clear, that does not mean we are to receive special treatment or become entitled because we acknowledge this.
We are born with, and have a tendency towards, different aptitudes and strengths. Moreover, we have varying temperaments, motivations, humor, and approaches to life. We are beautifully diverse.
Try to gain a better understanding of ways to highlight your experience through the lens of your strengths. What naturally comes easy to you? What do you enjoy doing (and why)? What environments have you worked best in? What do other people say you’re good at?
Perhaps you’re a great communicator, can adapt to any social environment, have strong belief in your mission, or are wonderfully organized. These are the “highlighter” to a resume.
Soft skills are personal attributes that help us effectively communicate and cooperate with other people. Cultivating an array of soft skills is incredibly important as they will help you become a good employee. Business, after all, is built on relationships. Qualities that fall into this category include emotional intelligence, leadership capabilities, listening skills, communication style, teamwork, problem solving skills, and others.
Hard skills are more definitive. They can be more easily taught and quantified. A tool kit of hard skills may include proficiency in math, budgeting, Java, typing, and programming. They have less to do with people interaction and more to do with quantified tasks or projects.
What hard and soft skills have you harnessed and developed? What else can you work on?
Your professional network is an asset for your next job. Can you sell services to those you know? Do you have resourceful connections to create new collaboration on projects outside the traditional meeting stakeholders? Can a mentor or professor become a consultant on a specific subject or teach the intern group a new skill? Is it possible to refer friends to the company? Systematically curating a professional network opens a world of possibilities for your job and long-term career.
What are you really, really good at? It’s ok if you don’t have an answer. But if you are amazing at something that relates to the job you’re applying to, then plop it onto your resume. Do you have certifications in project management, Google Analytics, or specific LinkedIn courses? Have you earned your CPA, CFA, CFP or another credential? Have you won awards in Toastmasters, debate, or event planning? Did you get into finals in a competition? These answers are found in personal life, sports, school, volunteer work, professional experience, and many others.
At the end of the day, I’m not encouraging a complete resume overhaul. However, as you take time to edit your resume, it is worth considering who you are and who you’re connected to, not just what you do.