Resumes are the heart and soul of the career development process, essential to have updated and at the ready for networking opportunities.
Resumes illuminate the arc of our professional experience, accomplishments, and education.
While formats and approaches to resumes evolve over time, what never changes is the goal of showing a potential employer who we are in a way that matches their highest need.
Applications may or may not be required when applying for a role. Some organizations will request a completed online application in addition to uploading your resume and cover letter.
In a sea of high volume, applications allow employers to easily identify strong candidates, pose specific questions to ascertain their organizational fit, and snag details they couldn't readily acquire through resumes, cover letters, and online profiles alone. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when filling out an online application:
1. Ensure all application details--role titles, dates of service, etc.--precisely match your resume.
2. Leave the desired and/or current salary box blank if possible. If a number is required and you're not comfortable entering 0, let's discuss a way to approach based on your situation.
3. If there is an opportunity to ask questions, ask them. Leverage this opportunity to learn more and to strengthen your application by proactively engaging with the organization.
NAME & CONTACT INFORMATION:
Your name as you prefer it professionally
City & state (no mailing address is needed)
Phone number (ideally your mobile so you are highly reachable)
Professional email address (no fun, quirky, or sassy email addresses)
LinkedIn profile URL (or the equivalent to your industry, such as Doximity for clinicians)
Your professional website if applicable (personal websites or pages are a no-go)
Think of these like the subtitle to your professional story.
Each word showcases your core industries. It is ideal to have two to three that encapsulate the desired role(s) to which you are applying. Examples for reference:
MANAGEMENT CONSULTING | CLIENT RELATIONS | TEAM DEVELOPMENT
CAREER SERVICES | CAREER COUNSEL | EVENTS MANAGMENT
NETWORK ADMINISTRATION | TEAM MANAGEMENT | TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
HUMAN RESOURCES | ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The summary powerfully states who you are professionally and why you belong there.
The summary replaces the old 'objective' that used to adorn the top of a resume.
This one sentence acts as a teaser, inviting them to further scan your specific accomplishments and experience. It should reference your career subtitles.
It is comprised of who you are, what you do, how you contribute, and its impact.
areas of expertise:
This section is meant to serve as a quick scan for recruiters and hiring managers.
All areas should be in bullet point format and match your career as well as the key descriptors of the job for which you're applying. Reference the job description(s) to cross-check what you are prioritizing in this section for each application.
Ensure there is an equal number of areas (6 to 12 is usually best; I recommend 9)
These areas should not be the same as your career subtitles but imply a connection.
This section can include technical skills if you deem appropriate.
Examples: Trusted Client Partnerships, Custom Talent Development, Enrollment Management, Quality Assurance, Social Media Marketing, Program Development, ...
Role Title, Company Name, Company Location, Dates of Service
Bullet points illuminating key accomplishments, deliverables, and resulting impact.
The most recent role(s) should have more bullet points; less for your older jobs.
You do not have to include every job you've ever had; choose the relevant ones and keep it reverse-chronological-- the first role mentioned should be the most recent and so on.
Your resume should be one page if less than 10 years' of experience. Two at most for those with 10+ years of professional experience but two still isn't necessary.
Your degree credentials, degree name, school name, and year of graduation.
The most recent degree(s) are essential; if no college degree, discuss with your coach how best to approach this situation. (High school graduation is rarely included.)
You may also include graduation honors and awards if applicable.
If more than one degree, the highest degree is listed first, followed by the second.
Should a degree be in process, you are welcome to include it and indicate as such.
awards & distinctions:
Applicable awards, volunteer or affiliate experience, and the like are included here.
If none exist, you may also elect to use this section as TECHNICAL SKILLS instead.
You may also elect to eliminate this section altogether if necessary.
for any & all applicants.
1. Accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation is absolutely critical. Edit more than once.
2. Every bullet point of your experience should begin with a powerful action verb to illuminate your leadership and contribution. Example: Directed, Led, Wrote, Managed, ...
3. Resumes are about accomplishments; your experience shouldn't read as a job description. Focus on how you made a meaningful, lasting impact in each role.
4. Tighten your word choices, trimming the fat and repetition to make every word count.
5. Your first bullet point for each role should be the strongest element of your impact.
6. Ask yourself, 'so what?' as you review everything. If you don't see a direct correlation with your desired job, either remove it or elevate the connection.
7. Have another person edit your resume, whether a coach, career consultant, or trusted friend who will ensure the resume is clear, engaging, and powerfully relevant.
8. Be honest. Tell the truth. Be your authentic self. No more, no less.
COURAGEOUS THOUGHT & ACTION EXERCISE
1. Outline the plot points or arc of your career from earliest role to current role.
2. Note the role titles, companies, and dates of service you know...and those you need to look up to recall.
3. Look at the job description of the role you wish to apply for. Highlight the key words within it which match your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Create a list for reference when writing your resume.
4. Take note of the areas of expertise the company asks for within the description. Make a list of those areas that match your own expertise to be sure to include.
5. What key areas of contribution do you wish to make at this organization? How will these areas positively impact their needs? Create a list of conceptual ideas that you can reference to reframe your experience bullet points in a parallel way.
WHY TAKE THE EXTRA STEP TO CREATE AN OUTLINE?
Outlines are everything. They sharpen our focus and ensure we are matching our honest professional reality with that of our desired organization.
These initial steps may seem superfluous but each one will make the actual resume writing flow more effectively.
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