I have experience. Lots of experience acquired throughout 15 years of experience in the field. If I was asked to describe my experience without any constraint, my resume would be a 10-page essay... front and back! This is the challenge for experienced workers: how can you talk about your professional background while displaying the skills that really matter?
Here are questions you should ask yourself when sharpening your resume:
1. what is this job description asking for?
Read the job description a few times, and write your resume to align with that description and so that you are placing relevance on the projects or work experience that demonstrate your ability to perform the tasks described in the job offer. For example, if my resume features my public relations skills, as they reflect my current role, but I want to apply to a marketing role, I will put the projects I have worked on that are relevant to that field on top, above the others.
2. what new experience and results do I have to share?
Outside of a copy edit and a design refresh you should add something new to your resume every time you update it. You have new project results, new responsibilities and they are your most important. Remember the adage from the newspaper industry you are only as valuable as your last article.
3. how has the industry changed since I updated my resume?
For some industries, three years is a lifetime. Think of how social media and the internet shifted radically when Facebook started, or how technology influences the engineering or manufacturing industries. Employers expect professionals to have a certain knowledge of these new developments and to be able to adapt. Does your resume reflect those changes and if it doesn’t, what risk does that pose? Have you participated in training sessions, webinars, conferences? Your current role has incorporated new developments and your resume should reflect new learnings that you are expected to have maintained.
4. who should I use as a reference?
We may not always see it, but our careers evolve fairly quickly, and we often have drastic shifts in roles and activities. In your resume you should showcase that evolution and your references should too. While a reference from three or four years ago can still be relevant, how much do they know your current habits or professional development? The more recent a managerial reference is the more valuable to you they are.
5. what should I keep from my previous roles?
You need to showcase all of the years of experience you explore in your cover letter or LinkedIn profile. If you say you have 10 years of experience, you have to include at least a note of where you worked and over what period of time. That doesn’t mean you need to write half a page about a nine-month contract that wasn’t terribly eventful. If you have too many experience points to outline, showcase the best-of and include a sidebar timeline of your work experience to allow people to reference all of your past work.
6. is the design of my resume holding me back?
Through your resume, you only have 6 seconds to make a lasting impression. Yep, 6 seconds. That’s how quickly someone can become disengaged from what you’ve written. The formatting of information can be integral to it being read effectively. Try to move people along in your resume from who you are to how you can help an employer as quickly as possible. To achieve this, include keywords that allow the reader to grasp who you are and what you can do, as well as drop some hints about your ‘personal brand’. For example:
- Proven expertise in interactive content strategy
- Creative mind and a structured, results-driven work method
- 8 years experience in communication program management
- Received industry recognition awards for the quality and originality of B2B campaigns
Use bulleted lists, visual cues, alternate text blocks with quotes, stats on your results, recommendations, to make it visually appealing to the reader. Show a trend line in experience and be sure to organize your work chronologically, to show managers that you actually have all of the experience you’ve spelled out in your cover letter or objective statement.
7. would I hire myself based on this resume?
Another test to work through on your resume is to think about the work you do today and then evaluate the information you have shared in your resume – do they align? Does the work detailed in your resume reflect the work you do now and does it encompass all of that you can do?
With years of experience, key skills and an extended network of professional colleagues, you are a highly sought after candidate. But employers do need to want to know more first. I recently reviewed my resume. How's yours looking?