You’ll often find sample resumes linked on the websites of resume writing professionals. In my opinion, these samples can be misleading. Why? Because an after shot of a shiny new resume only tells half the story. It may be great looking, it may be typo free, it may even have great content, but how do you know that content is relevant and focused on the person’s next position? In my role as a career coach and resume writer, I’ve seen some great resumes (and some bad ones), but sometimes those that appear perfect at first glance are misleading. Here at Forward Thinking Resumes, we’re not just going to put up samples, we’re going to explain why our resumes are in fact worth investing in.
First, let’s take a look at a sample resume sent to us by a teacher working here in North Carolina.
This particular teacher had spent ten years in the classroom and was starting to think about transitioning into a new role. Her goal? A sales position with a company specializing in educational tools. Our objective? Identify relevant transferable skills, experiences and accomplishments, and utilize the resume to highlight those in a way that would resonate with her audience. The result is linked below along with a brief explanation of some of the major changes.
Summary vs. Objective: As I’ve mentioned before, the objective went out the window with the economy. A summary section allows you to draw attention to the key skills and experiences that would benefit your future employer.
Highlight your experience first, not your education: This is especially true for seasoned professionals and for those who are transitioning into new positions where their specific degree is less relevant. In this case, the client no longer wants to be in the classroom and she has an incredible amount of relevant experience that we want to showcase right off the bat.
Updated format: In this case, we ditch the old template from Word and go with a format that highlights the client’s relevant skills and experience vs. job titles and employers that don’t match her desired field.
Action-oriented bullets: These were clearly lacking in the before sample. Bullets allow you to give specific examples of your utilizing the skills you need to be successful in your next position. The updated resume does just that. We are highlighting skills relevant to sales including creating and delivering presentations, leadership, persuasion, analytical ability, and strategic communication.
Relevant Content: Remove licenses, trainings and other information that is not directly relevant to the job you are applying to. I hear this time and time again from recruiters. By highlighting education and skills that are not relevant, you are making them second guess your commitment to a career change. By removing less important information from the previous resume, we made space for additional content geared towards the job our client was focused on.
While we all have the best of intentions when it comes to personal and professional development, these things often end up on the back burner. When you take into account that most people loathe the resume writing process, it probably won’t surprise you that I often see clients who haven’t updated their resume in years.
That was the case in this example where a very successful and talented sales professional was up for a senior leadership position within his company. While he certainly had the skills and experience, his resume was doing very little to advocate on his behalf.
My goal with this client was to get to the heart of what made him so successful at sales and what would make him even more successful as a senior leader. Yes, the sales skills were important, but so were the ability to think strategically, to build global partnerships, to train and mentor other staff and to implement change within an organization.
For someone with 20 years of experience, important accomplishments can get lost in pages of dense copy so the updated summary section allows us to pull out these key points and showcase them front and center. The updated format makes the document more current and the link to his LinkedIn profile also gives that impression.
Updated, action-oriented and results driven bullets are also key to the transformation in that they provide a fuller sense of scope and influence.