Writing your own resume can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. I have even heard people say that you should never write your own resume. However, as a resume writer I would have to disagree (probably to the consternation of some of my colleagues, but oh well!). Yes, I have encountered clients that were in desperate need of help when it came to writing their resume but I have also had potential clients that have written resumes that were fantastic, and I told them that. They had no need for any additional help with their resume; it was as good as a professional would have done. I would have to say that these resumes are the exception not the rule as I repeatedly hear from job seekers that they find writing a resume difficult and often dread the thought much less the actual activity of putting one together. Never fear! I’m going to cover some of the common issues job seekers face when creating a resume.
Challenge #1 – Being Too Personally Attached to Your Career History
It’s hard to step back and look at your career history objectively; after all, you have a close and personal attachment to it, and this is normal. However, in order to write an effective resume you need to be able to look at your resume as a hiring manager will look at it. If you are not able to separate the relevant from the non-relevant in your career history you will typically end up with a resume that is overly long and unfocused. It is essential that you are able to cut things from your resume that don’t add value. Too many times I have come across job seekers that have been too attached and have felt that everything they have done throughout their career is relevant and should be included on their resume. Try to remember, if it doesn’t directly relate to the position you are currently seeking then you can remove it from your resume. You do not need to list every duty and function of every job you’ve held. A hiring manager is not going to take the time to read that. They will care more about what you can do, not what you’ve done.
Challenge #2 – Creating a Resume That Lacks Self-Confidence
On the opposite side of challenge #1 we have challenge #2. This job seeker typically creates a resume that showcases little to no examples of their value. The reason? They do not feel that they have held any positions of significance and that they only did the job and nothing more. Rarely is this ever true. For example, let’s say Suzy Jobseeker has been a receptionist for the last five years. If you ask her all she did was answer the phone and do filing. She will fail to see anything she did outside of the job description. However, if we dig a little deeper we may discover that she re-categorized the filing system making it easier and more efficient. Or maybe she reduced customer call in wait time by creating a flow chart for directing calls. While she may see these as insignificant duties of the job, they are actually examples of her accomplishments. Maybe you didn’t save the company a million dollars but if you take the time to really review your past performances you will almost certainly discover you have contributed something of significance.
Challenge #3 – Not Taking the Time to Create a Proper Resume
If you weren’t already aware, resumes follow rules and standards that when used correctly can increase your chances of landing a job. Too many job seekers don’t take the time to research the current trends in resumes and send off a resume that is lacking potential. For many, writing a resume is a dreaded chore and the sooner it is over with the better. It is this same group that then wonders why they never hear back after submitting their resume. Let me tell you, it takes time to create a resume. There is writing and grammar and punctuation involved. You need to research the position you are applying to so you can incorporate keywords. You will need to become familiar with personal branding, career summaries, and core competencies. Then you need to proofread and edit your resume. And don’t forget about updating your resume to keep it current for future opportunities.
With a little effort, (ok, sometimes a lot!) you should be able to create a document that will represent your potential value to an employer. It’s not always easy but it can be done!
by Megan Koehler