Friday, March 26, 2010

I hate customizing a resume

Hi blog followers. This is my first entry in our Notes from the Job Search Blog. I'm a career counselor, but also a technical writer of many years experience, so I’ll try to not write like I’m creating a Help topic. I'll make the writing more conversational. Not an easy feat for a guy trained in Journalism and spending most of his working life writing in a terse “just the facts” style.

I thought I’d start off writing about how much I use to hate writing a customized resume and how much easier it is to do one with our Work-Life Database™.

I hate customizing a resume

As an unemployed technical writer, I want to get my next job very much. But what is weird is that I dreaded getting a hot job prospect. What was that? I dreaded having an opportunity to get a good job? And I’m not alone. In our job-search groups, we hear this all the time. The dread comes from knowing that soon I’ll have to go through the painful process of creating a customized resume specific to the job description. Write a few customized resumes and you’ll know what I mean. It is a long, emotionally-draining, frustrating exercise. After 4-5 hours, I produce a resume and send it off to an email address or web site. I call this sending it into the Black Hole because, as often as not, I get no acknowledgement that I submitted the damn thing.

But I no longer dread getting a hot job prospect. I can now produce a customized resume in about a half hour. And it is far less painful. Follow our process as explained below and you’ll only have to go through the pain once.

We still use resumes

Knowing that the best resume is one that is dropped off at HR after you’ve been hired, and that the best way to get to a hiring influence is through an introduction, submitting a resume to a company is still a way that many people get hired. It is still effective.

But the generic resume has gone the way of the typewriter. It won’t get you by the HR Department and it won’t get you an interview. But a customized or tailored resume has a much better chance of getting to that hiring influence. It is what is expected and is much more likely to get you that interview.

Most of us have gone through the painful process of creating a one-off customized resume for a specific job. We have reports of people taking up to eight hours to produce one. 3-4 hours is not uncommon. It is then sent off to a web site never to be seen again and is very frustrating to go through that process just to have no one notice or care. A process most people are only willing to do 3-4 times at most. Many just start sending off a generic resume that has no chance of competing for that job. Others quietly retreat to their caves and hope the world will present them with a decent job.

What is a better way to do this painful, but necessary step? Develop a Work-Life Database™.

Only feel the pain once with the Work-Life Database™

With a Work-Life Database™, you go through the pain only once. Using the Excel template we make available to our participants, go back through your whole working life and start documenting the good things, the accomplishments in the many different roles and jobs you’ve had over the years. In the accomplishments’ column write a one or two sentence description of some accomplishment you had in that role. Write it in a manner that can be used in a resume. Start with an action verb, don’t use personal pronouns and detail the accomplishment.

I think you’ll find that this task will gain momentum and that you’ll find that as you travel back through your history you’ll remember more and more and start adding whole jobs that you had forgotten. I went all the way back to my paperboy days delivering PI newspapers in the Wedgewood neighborhood of Seattle.

My next blog entry will be about how to write the Work-Life Database™ in a simple and quick manner.

1 comment:

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