Imagine if a RESUME with this JOB LISTING came across your desk:
Clerk, Circle K: stocked shelves, ran the cash register, cleaned the restrooms.
You very well might, if you needed a clerk for your new business, consider this candidate for a job. However, what if this JOB LISTING was presented instead:
Customer Service Representative, Circle K: As the first point of contact with our customers, I represented our mission – be the best and most convenient place to shop – to everyone who walked through the door. Each shift I worked, I helped ensure our store environment was clean and safe, and our inventory was orderly and up-to-date. I made sure purchases for my customers were completed in a fast and friendly manner. During my employment tenure, I received the company’s in-store customer service award 4 times.
Wow-wow-wow! What a difference!
With an applicant’s “job experience” presented like this – equally truthful and direct but with a very positive and complete presentation and description of the services performed, or “spin” if you will – a word I want you to learn to love and embrace – you might see this “clerk” you need to hire as an –
- assistant manager
- sales rep
- receptionist at a talent agency
- indy or major studio or network entry level employee
Now, I wish I could take credit for this simply brilliant illustration, but this pearl of resume wisdom came from Susan Dodd, a fellow ASU Alum from my Class of ’76. In preparation for our first round of coffee sessions, I reached out to my dear friend and asked the overly modest Susan to tell you a little about herself, and she kindly shared:
After 27 years , Susan retired from Intel Corporation as the IT Director of Sourcing & Services Solutions. Her career was devoted to working with her customers to simplify work processes and automate work flows where it made sound business sense. In addition, she was the Senior Sponsor for the “Women at Intel” Diversity Organization.
Susan graduated from ASU with a Masters in Business Administration, and undergraduate degrees in Theatre and Broadcasting/Communications.
What Susan doesn’t say, is how whip smart she is and always was, how kind and generous and loyal a friend it has been my honor to know, and how without her insanely strong management skills and detailed note taking (when we were barely 18), I would have never made the A grades I did at ASU.
I turned to Susan on the subject of resumes as I knew she had a rich business background and had hired and interviewed and mentored many job seekers in her long and successful career, and as I suspected, Susan did not disappoint.
From Susan’s mind to yours, I give you, The Resume:
Resumes are merely a tool to direct potential employees to information about you that will help you stand out and be selected for a job over all other applicants. While it includes work history, the intent is not to communicate just work history (remember: most job applications require job history data – dates & duties – so if your resume is merely relaying this same information you are wasting an opportunity). A resume should compliment a job application.
Look on line for formats and find one that you think will best enable you to highlight who you are. It is not a one size fits all.
A resume should NEVER be over one page long. No one reads past one page (and it can be irritating to receive a mutli page resume – no one is that great!). If you cannot tell a prospective employee about you in one page go back and try again. Remember – you want them to see something in that resume that makes them want to know more and if they won’t finish reading it you have already lost.
Skills, Knowledge and Abilities: potential employees are trying to determine if you possess the critical things they believe they need for the job they are hiring to – and be a fit for their company overall (values, work ethic)
- Skills: you have experience with the work
- Knowledge: you are mindful of what the work is
- Abilities: you have done things that would lend themselves to you doing the job you are applying for (successfully working in teams, project management – transferrable abilities)
More often than not you will not have specific experience for the position you are applying for – but if you can show you have abilities that lend themselves to the job you are applying for, that is attractive to a hiring manager – it means you will most likely be able to learn the actual position requirements quickly (quicker than the next guy).
In crafting your resume, think about ALL your previous experience: jobs, volunteer/unpaid work, etc. and consider how to best package this as it relates to you into your resume. Think in broad terms, especially when you are starting out and your actual work experience is minimal. This won’t negatively impact you if you can show you have acquired abilities elsewhere that will make you a good candidate for the position.
Your resume should make them want to know MORE about you – get you the all-important interview.
Never lie about anything on a resume – but it is OK to toot your own horn (and for some reason women have a harder time doing this than men – so, ladies, start bragging!)
It is a good idea to adjust your resume for the job you are applying for (think if it as a living document) – if the position has a customer service focus, tweak your resume so that experience and those skills stands out; if the requirement is project management, highlight those experiences. Keep it current.
And finally (someone gave me this advice years ago and it was some of the best advice I ever got) – keep your resume up to date!
- This ensures you are always ready when an opening comes up that you are interested in
- You think you will remember your work experiences over time – you won’t! Document each work experience while it is fresh.