Walking the Cat . . .

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Resumes . . .the “gotta have” job search tool

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  At the outset, I want you to know I’m not going to show any resumé samples; hundreds (if not thousands) of how-to books are written every year, detailing the best (and worst) ways to format a resumé.  Likewise, there are myriad websites which do the same thing and many offer resumé writing services.  So, if you’re looking for samples or lists of what to do and what not to do on your resumé, this is not where you want to be.  What I will do, though, is share with you one of the best websites for formatting resumes and writing cover letters.  Now that’s out of the way, we can down to the business using a resumé.

In order to understand the importance of a resumé, it is necessary to understand a job search as Marketing 101.  Your resumé is a marketing tool designed to do one thing: get you into an interview.  With that in mind, it is probably best to think of yourself as a product and your resumé as a commercial for that product.  This is, in fact, not too far off the mark.  There’s a reason it’s called, the job “market”; “buyers” (employers/prospective employees) competing with and against all the other “buyers” in the marketplace, and “sellers” (prospective employees/employers) competing with and against all the other “sellers”.  Both “buyers” and “sellers” use essentially the same tools, although each refers their tools in different terms.  A prospective employer utilizes job postings as a sort of “corporate resumé”, a digest of the benefits of joining their particular business.  A prospective employee utilizes a similar tool, a resumé, to highlight the benefits of having him/her join a business.

Using the “product/commercial” model for marketing yourself to prospective employers, it then makes sense to fashion a commercial (resumé) which shows you as the best possible candidate for the job; shows your “best side” so to speak.  If you are new to the job market, you may want to emphasize your education while highlighting those skill sets, qualities and experiences which most benefitted you during your academic career.  If you’ve been in the job market before, it would be more effective to emphasize your experience with past employers while highlighting those skills, qualities and experiences which proved most beneficial to your former employer.  The key is to present yourself as a potentially valuable asset to the prospective employer.  Remember, you are the product. 

That brings us to the matter of format.  How do you format your resumé?   Well, that depends.  A perusal of most of the references on the subject tend toward conservative formatting; good quality paper, white or off-white, no fancy fonts or distracting graphics.  Most model resumes vary hardly at all in anything but content and  arrangement.  Your strongest skill sets should be displayed prominently and early.  This “best foot forward” approach is predicated on the fact your beautifully formatted resumé has approximately 8 – 10 seconds to make the desired impression, so you better put the goods upfront where the overworked, underpaid screener will be sure to see them.

Having said all of this concerning being conservative yet dynamic in your resumé format, there are times when it is necessary, even desirable to step “outside the box” and do something totally “off the wall”.     A colleague of mine told me of an exceptionally creative way in which he managed to rescue himself from the doldrums of a stalled career by tossing all the resumé rules out the window creating something totally outrageous (and totally effective!)  I’m not going to detail the story here, you can read it for yourself here.  Not something I’d be inclined to try, but an excellent example of when and how to break the rules.


Written by stevewthomas

May 21, 2011 at 4:38 am

One Response

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  1. I agree. Your resume is an AD for YOU. Effective advertising is brief, gets attention, and is memorable.


    May 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

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