Work Stuff

Wow, My Resume is Dusty!

At the Office - 1/13/11

Now that I’m seriously looking for a job, I can’t put it off any longer – it’s time to get serious about my resume. (And my hair. Good Lord, look at that rat’s nest. Luckily, there is a hip hair salon just down the street from Kevin’s office that I’m going to try out because it’s pretty obvious I need to get a more professional ‘do before I actually go on any interviews).

Kevin and I went to Border’s last night to look for one specific resume book, but once I found it and skimmed through it, I didn’t like it. So, I browsed the other resume books and found one that I thought looked promising. It’s called “101 Best Resumes to Sell Yourself” by Jay Block. One of the reasons I liked it was because it has examples of resumes that I can work off of. It also gives you some examples of cover letters as well.

Kevin has a pretty awesome resume book at home, but it’s like fifteen years old and I knew that given today’s competitive market and the fact that it’s been at least FIFTEEN years since I’ve put a resume together for myself, I better get with the times.

And I’m glad I did because one of the first things this book covers is “chronological and format resumes are OUT.” Everyone uses them and if you want to be noticed, then you have to do something a little different.

I can do different. In fact, I prefer it. I like getting creative with things like this, so I’m looking forward to trying a few things. This book offers the “Organizational Message Chart” which focuses primarily on one’s value to a prospective employer and developing powerful messages that tell prospective employers how you can benefit them and why they should hire you.

This won’t be easy for me. I’m not exactly comfortable tooting my own horn. Especially since I’m not really sure what my horns (strengths) are, to be perfectly honest. But I’m a writer and I like to think I’m creative, so if I can’t come up with something then those self-imposed titles should be stripped from my cold, numb hands. (Because they are cold and numb, I’m in the office again today. But at least I got smart and brought a space heater with me, which is helping … somewhat. I’m also drinking Red Bull and munching on Vanilla Wafers – breakfast of champions, don’t you know).

The book goes on to list 21 guidelines for creating value-based resumes. Most of them are pretty common sense – no grammatical or typographical errors (which really IS the kiss of death for someone looking for a writing job, like me), keep it to one page, choose your words carefully, make the format “reader friendly” (don’t write a bunch of convoluted paragraphs), avoid fluff (you know, the old standbys: hard working, energetic, results oriented), etc.

It also lists some things that I’m going to have to think about:

  • How can you improve a company’s economics?
  • Think of ways to exceed expectations.
  • Show your human side. (This shouldn’t be that difficult for me. I have more trouble keeping it professional).
  • Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. (*wince*)
  • List how well you did something as opposed to what you did.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is hiring you.
  • Identify and clearly document your signature talents – these have high impact value. (Now if I can just identify and clearly document my signature talents I’ll be set).

In addition to these guidelines, Block lists six key “P” principles to create a value-based resume:

1. Purpose – (clearly articulate its purpose)
2. Packaging – (“Toilet paper is better packaged/promoted than 99% of the resumes circulating out there.” Oh my! That’s not intimidating!!)
3. Positioning – (good positioning of information means organizing your resume so that the format and flow is “reader friendly.”)
4. Punch – (communicating core messages about yourself that prospective employers want to see.)
5. Personality – (your packaging should convey your unique attributes as a person, along with your value message.)
6. Professionalism – (managers know that the way people present themselves, professionally on paper and in person in the interviews, predicts how professionally they will represent the companies and approach their jobs.)

I need to read that last one to Dude.

By the way, I’m sharing all of this with you because writing this out helps me digest the material and formulate a plan. I’ve always done this (you should see some of my notes from my college classes), so if this stuff is boring to you, just skip it. Then again, maybe some of this information will help you build a better resume too, which can only give you an edge in today’s working world. And if you get the job? I totally want a commission fee. 😀

I was kind of hoping that I wouldn’t have to go down this resume route – but the places I want to apply with have specifically asked for my resume to be attached to their online application so … *SIGH* here we go. This will be good for me though. Forcing myself to sum up my abilities should also help when I hit the interview process.

Oh Lord. Which opens up a whole other can of worms … what to wear!?! And OMG, how will I answer the questions without spewing spittle all over the interviewer because I’m too nervous to swallow? ACK!

Calm down, Karen. One hurdle at a time, girlie. (Though the software company says they are “informal” so I’m thinking business casual on that interview. Listen to me, talking as if they are even going to call me for an interview. Well, I suppose being confident is a positive attribute, right??)

So basically, now, I have to come up with one statement that sums up what I can do for the company I’m applying with – I have to answer the question:

Why should the company hire me?

Why indeed??

Tough question, even a tougher question to answer, I’m finding out. And these statements change depending on where I’m applying.

In addition to answering this question, I need to come up with statements that answer the following question: What skills, abilities, qualifications, and credentials do you offer in order to achieve the answer to the above question.

I now have something to stew on, which means it’s now time to turn my attention to something else entirely. That’s how I work – juggling more than one ball helps me focus, for some reason.

I’d like to post a sample of my resume, but I’m not sure that would be a good idea. At any rate, I’ve learned that old chronological and format resume styles are pretty much dinosaurs now and that knowledge alone should help give me an edge.

I hope.