Seven Things Your Resume Says About You - 133T
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Seven Things Your Resume Says About You

October 20, 2017

Everybody knows they need a resume to get a new job, but the right resume can do so much more. It will open doors, win you callbacks, and act as your personal ad agency.

Although templates and styles wax and wane like the moon, the content of your resume needs careful consideration because, whether you like it or not, you’re revealing far more than just your job history and education.

For starters, your resume needs to achieve three objectives:

  1. It does indeed give details of your previous employment and qualifications, framed in terms that are beneficial to you. Even apparent failures can be shown as positives, given the right context and understanding.
  2. It provides hooks to enable you to showcase your star quality during the interview.
  3. It shows that you’ve read the job ad intelligently, and can demonstrate on paper how well you are aligned with the role.

Now, let’s break down some of the key disclosures your resume makes.

1. Your background and experience

Your career path (trust us, there’s always a path) is the biggest indicator of your suitability.

Presentation is key and there are nuggets of gold if you know where to look.

Your skill sets and how well you’ve been able to apply them, your scope of influence beyond the day-to-day job, and any additional responsibilities you took on are all areas to focus on.

Also consider why you changed jobs and what you learned. It’s one of the reasons why you need to know your resume in detail, including your weaknesses.

2. Your character

What we do is an indication of who we are.

You’ve probably seen enough cop shows to know that master criminals always give themselves away. The same is true of career choices.

Who needs a personality test when you can read your own mind?

Are you a leader or a follower? Do you like a structured role or prefer to go with the flow? For those in the know, it’s all there on paper.

What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles, for example, proposes that our predominant work preference is with People, Information, or Things. Your headline personal statement should focus attention where you want it to go, and this can be a great opener.

3. Your attitude towards change

Some folks have a clear career path, as tried-and-tested as a guidebook, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Others take a more adventurous approach and build up a mosaic of job experiences that only seem to fit together when you step back to see the bigger picture.

Your resume will show which of these attitudes you hold, whether you want it to or not. Whichever attitude you hold, be prepared to explain to your next potential boss why you hold to that particular career lifestyle.

4. How ambitious you are

Did you stay in one organization and get promoted, or change department to work your way into a specialized post?

Maybe you’ve chopped and changed, grabbing opportunities as they caught your attention. Are you climbing the same tree, are you reaching for ever greater boughs in the woods, or have you found your level?

While it’s great to be highly ambitious, don’t let a “lack” of ambition stop you from applying. Not every boss wants someone who constantly pressures them for a promotion. If you’re most comfortable entering at a certain level and staying there, don’t be ashamed. Sometimes that’s exactly what an employer is looking for.

5. Your aspirations

Yes, it sounds like ambition, but work with us here. Your aspirations are where you want to be, not necessarily what you’re currently working towards.

Sometimes you just have vague ideas, which is fine. The smart solution is to ensure that your resume contains clues about what you actually want to do and how your work and leisure activities reflect that, even — and especially! — if it’s not immediately obvious.

6. Where you fit

Knowing what you do best is only part of the puzzle.

Your career is a good indication of where you work best (and sometimes worst): alone, collaboratively in a group, or autonomously within a group.

A scattergun approach to your career will show up on a resume, so expect to be asked about it if you get to the interview stage — but don’t treat yourself or your past employers as the villain. Use the opportunity to demonstrate maturity, reflection and decisiveness.

7. Your interests

What you do with your leisure time is like a glimpse inside your soul. Active, passive, go-getter, chilled out — it’s all there in the subtext.

Do you go and see bands, or do you actually play a musical instrument? Are you the sporty type, or someone who considers reading to be an exceptional leisure activity?

The time-honored advice used to be that you identify a solo interest, a group interest, a developmental interest, and a community interest. On paper that might look like: making wine, playing baseball in an amateur league, learning Spanish, and being on a local neighborhood committee.

Personal interests are really important because they are an indication of self-motivation and sustained commitment. The golden rule is: Don’t make it up! And if you can’t find anything interesting to say about yourself outside of work, maybe you need to factor that into your career plan.

In summary, your resume is your opportunity to share your strengths and talents, and to show both they have been acquired and how they are demonstrated. Here are our takeaway tips for crafting a killer resume:

  • Do your research. Read the job ad carefully and study the organization. Ultimately, the job application process is about meeting the company’s needs in the best possible way — by employing you! Tailor your resume for each application.
  • Consider the “why.” Why did you change job, go for promotion, or choose that previous role in the first place?
  • Tell the truth, but do so intelligently. Don’t include anything in your resume that you’re not prepared to talk about.

Once you have a beautifully crafted resume, get out there and submit it! You’ll be raking in cash at your new job in no time.

Think I missed something? Are there actually eight things your resume says about you instead of seven? Share the story on Facebook and let me know!

Derek Thompson is a columnist, blogger, copywriter, and author of the Spy Chaser espionage series. He’s a British writer with some North American sensibilities, and welcomes business inquiries over Twitter.