Nearly every week, I speak with job candidates that want help creating a great resume and related documents. The problem is that they have not gathered the information needed for them to get the best results. Some information we ask for before we start writing includes:
- Job target,
- Employment history,
- Business accomplishments,
- Education and training,
- Community leadership, and
- The basics—name and contact information.
An important point to remember when you gather and analyze your information is that your job search presentations—resume, LinkedIn profile, and job search letters are business marketing documents. As such, all the information you provide should meet the customer’s—your prospective employer’s—needs, not your needs.
Modern resumes and LinkedIn profiles do not include a job objective, but they do include a headline or personal brand statement. Headlines say in a few words what you are. Are you a real estate accountant, aerospace engineer, customer service representative, nurse, elementary school teacher, etc.?
Employers search on job titles so this information is critical. Prospective employers also want to know what industry or employment sector you work in, and the geographic area where you live. Hiring teams search, for example, to find financial analysts who work in the investment banking industry, or a customer care manager who works in call centers, so it is essential to state your industry. In fact, “Industry” is a required field on LinkedIn.
Job seekers that do not know their current job target, then, are at a distinct disadvantage because employers either won’t find them in searches, or will match the job seeker with jobs he or she does not want or jobs they are not qualified for. Our last blog post focused on ideas to help you find a job target.
Most of us spend a great deal of time honing our professional skills through formal education, online classes, and work experience. As a result, we want to display our employment-related skills prominently on our resume and LinkedIn profile.
Once again, it is paramount to think in terms of skills that employers will search for and then list or demonstrate them on your profile and resume. Employers search largely for “hard” technical and professional skills, as discussed in a previous post, so make sure you tell the writer collaborating with you about all the professional skills you use at work.
LinkedIn allows space for you to list 50 searchable skills, and the system matches the skills you enter with skills in its database as you type. Your resume will have much less space so you and your writer will have to determine what skills will be most important to prospective employers.
In addition to job skills, nearly everyone has some work history, even if it is limited to volunteer work, student jobs, internships, or family care. The question is what is relevant to your job target? Gather all the information you have about your work history, but recognize that some of it may not be included on your resume or profile. For example, as discussed in a previous post, we won’t need exact dates of employment—resumes include only years of employment in most cases. Nonetheless, you will need this information at later stages in your search, so confirm when you started and left your past jobs to save time later.
Most of the resumes we get from job seekers include the jobs they have held and the tasks they performed at those jobs. Employers know, or can easily discover the tasks an accountant or customer service rep performs. They need to know what sets you apart from other job candidates. In other words, what business problems or opportunities did you address through what actions to get what results?
Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, so to speak, and recognize how our day-to-day activities in tracking accounts, responding to customer inquiries, or caring for patients fits into the bigger picture. We feel like we just did our jobs.
Don’t despair if you feel that you just did your job. Ask yourself what you are most proud of at work, and what would have happened if you weren’t there? Locate last year’s performance review, and reviews from prior years, if available. We have written very successful resumes based, in part, on performance reviews.
Prospective employers will include aspects of your education in their search criteria, so you should provide this information. Hiring teams will search for candidates with degrees if the job has a specific degree requirement. Some recruiters and employers also search for candidates that attended specific schools.
Often, it is good strategy to include the school and pending degree when you are still attending so you appear in search results. Just be clear that you have not yet completed your degree.
Professional certificates and online courses may be important also. LinkedIn allows lots of space for certificates and non-degree online courses, and can even add courses on their affiliated web sites for you.
Resumes and job search letters afford us more limited space for certificates and online courses. Nonetheless, we can make room to add relevant courses and certificates, especially when they add valuable keywords to your documents.
While the Community Leadership or Volunteer Work category does not apply to every resume, we can sometimes include valuable keywords by adding this information. Provide information on your volunteer and community activities to the writer you are collaborating with so you can make strategic decisions about the volunteer role’s career relevance.
Although community activities are not always relevant to your goals, certain basic information such as your name and contact information must always be on your resume. Make certain that you provide the name and contact information that should appear on the resume to the writer collaborating with you. If you are developing the resume yourself, make sure your name and contact information appears on top of the document body, and not in an MS-Word header, text box, or column so automated systems will find it. Recruiters occasionally report receiving resumes with no names or contact information because this data was not included in the main body of the document.
The takeaway here is that you will save your time, your writer’s time, and help prospective employers match you with the correct job when you gather all your information ahead of time.