I suppose the best way to begin a search is to have some way to identify myself and what I have to offer. We can pick up the issue of a personal brand later. This brings me to one of the most frightening words I know: the resume.
The resume is supposed to do one thing and one thing only: to get an interview. But that sounds so much easier said than done. Nowadays ( don’t you love that word?) your resume is read by a machine, not a person. So the machine simply looks for words that match the job description. How you have done something, well or not, creatively or not, is simply not relevant.
I will admit I am no longer in my 30’s and am horrified at the prospect of conveying my aptitude, abilities and successes into a single page: with bullets, keywords, and NOT using the 110 words you are told NOT to use on your resume, such as produced or created. Since everyone can check everything, there is no place for errors or omissions, yet this resume must be succinct and simply glowing; so weightless it shimmers to the top of the reviewer’s pile, shining as an irresistible beacon.
Yeah, no problem.
So, what works?
I am not entirely sure, other than the basics. I do know that should someone be interested in t you, make your contact info easy to see, right at the top of the page. There are a few ( meaning thousands) of examples on the web, and as much advice about what to do or not do to create yours. I found several that were clear and readable and nicely formatted, however it can be difficult to figure out how to economize words, yet show performance.
The goal is to stand out; to highlight what you can do that they are seeking. One way is the word cloud: try cutting and pasting the job description into the space at www.wordle.com. The resulting word cloud features words that are important, so I adjust my resume to reflect more directly what they are seeking. I do this by reflecting back the words in the job descriptions that match what I have actually done.
Spring chicken, I am not one
No lie, I have been around the block and more than a few times. In my professional career, I have done lots of things, way too many to include on a resume. But, how to know what to include and what to leave out? This part is a challenge for me, as I know I am really good at what I do, and my standards for achievement are high. How do I set up a piece of paper that shows someone who has no idea about me at all that I am worth a second look?
For now, this is the standard resume I am using. It is a derivative of a previous version; this one has elements that were suggested by and HR professional. It is out there, so we will see!
If you are so inclined, please comment, yes, no, strong, weak, I would really appreciate some perspective. Thank you! You can also get in touch here or call on 310 828 6979.
Cindy Lauren is the Principal of Lauren Associates – non profit consulting
As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.