Imagine you are at a barbecue and a friend says, “We are hiring. Shoot me your résumé and I will pass it along to my manager.” Elation suddenly turns to panic. You spend the rest of the weekend pulling your hair out in order to get a résumé together by Monday.
Whether you are in active job-search mode or more passively open to new opportunities, it is prudent to have a sparkly résumé ready to send off in a moment’s notice.
Job seekers are generally advised to target their résumés to each specific position. This sounds good in theory but it is not always possible. The aforementioned barbecue scenario is one case in point.
While owning a building seems like something every successful business should do, that’s not always the case. For many companies, it makes more sense to continue leasing space, freeing up time and capital that can be better utilized in other ways.
Another issue is that position descriptions vary widely. Some are overly detailed while others are short and skimpy. Rather than expressing any amount of passion and truth, job seekers parrot back what they think employers want to hear. The end result is a résumé that reads like the back of a can of paint.
There are certainly times when we should tailor a résumé to a specific position. However, there is a lot to be said for creating a personalized marketing piece that can be used more broadly. This allows us to be nimble and effective in responding to opportunities, and it ensures we don’t lose ourselves in the job-search process.
For the next few minutes, forget everything you have heard about the importance of targeting your résumé. Rather than focusing on employer needs, look into your heart to identify what you want in your next position. Here are three steps to creating a powerful, all-purpose résumé:
Be future facing. Let this version of your résumé describe the job of your dreams. Rather than simply regurgitating what you have done in the past, highlight what you want to do more of going forward. Don’t list anything that you find draining. Think beyond recent work experience and also emphasize skills gained through volunteering and personal interests or from positions held long ago. A résumé is a ticket to your happy future and needs to be written with a clear vision in mind.
Be compelling. Beyond listing skills and qualifications, develop a “career highlights” section in which you provide brief accomplishment statements to communicate the real value you can provide. These accomplishment statements are like pencil drawings that support your goals and ambitions. When you land an interview, you can turn these pencil drawings into vivid word pictures and stories. For now, let your résumé offer captivating snippets of who you are becoming professionally.
Be yourself. When it comes to landing a good-fit opportunity, your best bet is to present yourself honestly. Most résumés are sterile and lack personality. It seems the goal of so many job seekers is to avoid offending anyone, ever. Speak your truth. Use conversational language and let your natural voice flow onto the page. Being forthright and creative in your presentation will cost you some jobs but staying true to yourself increases the likelihood of finding a position in which you can thrive and grow.
A future-facing, compelling and personalized résumé allows you to be ready when random opportunities present themselves. When you do need to target your résumé for a specific position, you can modify this version while maintaining your personal brand. Putting more heart into your résumé is a good first step to attracting the attention you desire.
Carrie Pinsky is a freelance writer, job-search coach and training specialist. Reach her at Pink Sky Counseling and Career Services, 970-225-0772 or www.pink-sky.net.