Your résumé is a sales and marketing document whose purpose is to make people pick up the phone and call you. It is NOT meant to be an exhaustive list of every job you’ve held! Many people make the mistake of including far too much detail, but as with all sales and marketing documents, brevity is crucial. Arrange your résumé in a visually attractive format so that the most important and relevant information is quickly accessible. The goal is to have someone glance at your résumé for 10 seconds and say: “Call this one back!”
What do you need from a good reinvention résumé?
For the purposes of this lesson, we are going to assume that you know the basic structure of a standard, chronological résumé (if not, go online; there are plenty of good books and articles on the topic). From a career reinvention perspective, however, the question is: If I want to make a change, how should I rework my résumé? Here are the sections of importance:
- The Objective: When reinventing your career, the objective is generally not helpful because you are seeking to make a change from what you’ve done in the past. If your objective doesn’t match your background, it becomes meaningless. Were commend dispensing with this section.
- Candidate Profile or Summary of Qualifications: From a career reinvention perspective, this is a very valuable section. You can use it to provide a description of your qualities, skills and talents; this summary can be shaped to target your new career. Use language that creates a “picture” of you as a candidate; the stronger the visual image, the more effective this section will be. The following examples illustrate this point:
- Media professional with 15 years’ experience
- Seasoned media executive who has built businesses from the ground up
- The first example is boring; it just states a fact. The second example creates an exciting, go-getter image. Which candidate do you think the hiring manager will call? For visual presence, format your profile in a bulleted list so that it catches the eye. Using four or five statements in this section is standard.
Highlight yourself up front!
With a résumé, your goal is to write an effective summary of qualifications or a candidate profile that showcases your background in a way that appeals to your target. You support these statements by listing tangible, quantifiable accomplishments that demonstrate your talents and your abilities for each job.
EXAMPLE: Before and after for someone in international business development:
BEFORE: Business development salesperson for entertainment properties.
AFTER: Savvy relationship manager with a network of top-level decision-makers in“blue-chip” media companies.
Accomplished, creative deal negotiator who has achieved profitable agreements in competitive markets.
Note the use of descriptive language and powerful, action-oriented verbs.
It’s amazing how many people forget to add their successes to each job listing. From a reinvention perspective, accomplishments are crucial because they show potential employers you have a history of creating positive, tangible results. Another benefit is that when you identify your accomplishments, you will see that many of the skills and talents it took to achieve them are most likely transferable to your new career.
It may be a challenge, however, to come up with that list of accomplishments. It helps to analyze each job using the acronym PAR:
- P stands for Problem: Here is where you identify the problem, opportunity or the challenge of the position. By pinpointing the problem, opportunity or challenge, you can then define “A.”
- A stands for Action: This is the action you took to solve a problem, overcome a challenge, or maximize an opportunity. Once you have identified the actions you took, you are ready to summarize “R.”
- R’ stands for Result: Your results show exactly what you accomplished in response to the problem, opportunity or challenge. These results then become your list of accomplishments. Each accomplishment must satisfy one of three requirements:
- They should be specific:
- “Launched video product line in Europe”
- “Implemented financial database for all branch divisions”
- “Created franchising guidelines for retail store division”
- They should be identifiable:
- “ Managed accounts for Nike, Adidas and Reebok”
- “ Contributed articles to Travel + Leisure, Gourmet and New York Magazine”
- “ Presented Internet sales tax recommendations to Congress in 2004”
- They should be quantifiable:
- “Increased sales by 20% in the first year”
- “Put on a conference for more than 50 outside distributors”
- “Brought in new client billings worth $3.5 million in 2003”
- They should be specific:
Identify three to four accomplishments from your most recent job. If you were there less than a year, one or two accomplishments is sufficient. For previous positions, two or three accomplishments are enough.
Now let’s discuss some other things you will need to know when crafting a“reinvention résumé”.
Language: Every industry has its own “language,” and it is important to identify the language of your target career and use it in your materials. An easy way to become familiar with the language of your new field is by reading its trade publications. Include the new language wherever you can; the only exception to this rule is with your job titles. If your current or past positions are called something else in your target career, don’t change them. Just use the new language in the description of each job function
Volunteer & Other Unpaid Work: If your current job doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to develop the skills you need for your target career, you may have to draw on skills developed through volunteerism or other unpaid work. To handle this situation, create an identifying section on your résumé called “Volunteer” or “Other Experience.” (If you are an aspiring writer this section could be called “Articles and Publications”). Then record your relevant experience the same way you would a job, including a summary description of what you did and a list of accomplishments. FYI, you are free to include skills and talents developed through volunteerism and unpaid work in your Summary of Qualifications/Candidate Profile. Make sure, though, that you have quantifiable achievements to back up your claims!
Tell the Truth: While it’s good to be creative when reinventing your career (in fact, it’s necessary!), be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of being “creative” in a way that crosses the line. In other words, be honest about your skills, talents and qualifications; don’t misrepresent or embellish what you’ve done. A good rule of thumb to follow: Don’t include any statements, accomplishments or activities that cannot be independently verified.