As an executive resume writer, I get a lot of calls from eager job seekers with job postings in their hands, asking if I’ll write them a resume in 24 hours because they ‘need it right away.’ There are resume writing services that do, but I am not one of them.
The reason I do not take on last minute project is because it’s not going to work. The results will be rushed and that is not the first impression you want to make.
Imagine writing a 12-month research thesis the night before it’s due; now multiply that by the number of years you have been working. Great research works are not written quickly and neither are great resumes. They are written via a comprehensive process that demands a little more thought than a one-nighter.
“Every storytelling exercise should begin by asking: Who is my audience and what is the message I want to share with them?”- How to Tell a Great Story , Carolyn O’Hara
To tell a great story, and a resume is your career story, you need to start with two things: understand your reader and know what you want them to learn. Can you really conduct quality research on both in less than 24 hours? Instead, I recommend the Research, Analyze, Write, approach.
The best place to start your job search is by doing some soul-searching.While common thinking might suggest you start your job search by writing your resume, I advise this instead: Start with why you love the work you do. Engage in some thoughtful analysis and evaluation of your career. Hone in on the talents you most enjoy. What part of your work day do you most enjoy? What drives you to do the work you do? Here are some other things that you might enjoy at your place of work: the culture, the work itself (I’m talking about the day-to-day stuff), your clients, your colleagues, working from home, the commute, the benefits, your potential for advancement… there are so many things to choose from.
Whatever it is you enjoy most, begin your story there. Be careful, though, some people mix up what they ‘can’ do with what they ‘want’ to do. For example, I *can* type really fast, but I *want* to partner with leaders to help position them for career success.
The point here is to focus on what you most enjoy about the work you do, and highlight that work to potential employers. There is no sense highlighting ‘typing’ if you would rather ‘write for business executives’.
Get wise to the local labour market. Before you consider leaving your current job or taking a new job, conduct a deep analysis of potential employers. Again, start by doing some soul-searching. What kind of employer do you want to work for? What will they offer you? What is most important to you about your next job?
Develop the criteria to evaluate an employer. What is important to you? Use the information you collected in the ‘research’ stage to create a baseline from which to evaluate companies.
First, identify the organizations within your industry in your region. Next, find out which companies hire people to do what you know you love to do! Maybe you’ll find only a few companies in your region who do the type of work that interests you, that’s good. You have narrowed the search. Next, classify companies where you feel you would fit. Learn as much as you can about the companies through both online research and in-person meetings.
Be confident in your choices. If you are leaving a job in the hopes of finding a better job be sure the new company offers more than the old one. If you’re just starting out in your career, take the time to get this phase right. This is the foundation of your career and it will help establish the trajectory of your future career choices.
Take what you’ve learned in the research and analyze phase and apply it to your resume. You know what you want, and you know what employers in your industry in your region want from you. It’s time to put pen to paper (so to speak).
The employer needs someone who can reduce costs? Tell them about the time you saw an opportunity to automate a system, you implemented the changes and saved $100K annually as a result.
The employer wants to find someone who can work with people? Tell them how you increased customer satisfaction levels in your department 35% by implementing a new customer rewards program.
The resume may seem like the beginning of the job search process, but it’s much closer to the final stage when you are ready to articulate why an employer should hire you. With the research and analysis stages complete you can develop a resume that showcases your talents and address the needs of a specific employer. This will add tremendous strength to your candidacy and increase the likelihood of securing an interview at a place you’re confident is right for you.
Related Categories: Career Clarity, Client Questions & Answers, Resumes & ATS
About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.