A few weeks ago, I was working with someone who is looking for an international private sector job and providing some thoughts and advice on their resume.
This person has some incredible work experience, work experience that many companies would salivate over.
But when I read their resume, much of that incredible experience wasn’t jumping off of the page.
It was an example of a resume that doesn’t do its author justice.
This sort of resume often shows up with more experienced folks who have not looked for a new job in a while. They have accomplished some great things. But one thing they haven’t done recently is sell those accomplishments to strangers — i.e., writing a resume.
So their resumes are often poor representations of their great work. And if not corrected, they can lead to a really frustrating job search for more experienced hires.
Imagine knowing you are a great catch after years of experience — but having job application after job application turn up empty.
I’ve been there before — it’s demoralizing. You just don’t know what you are doing wrong.
So, if I had to distill my thoughts about most of these resumes into one piece of advice, it would be:
You are forgetting about your audience.
Instead of trying to get into the heads of the hiring managers in their field of interest and researching what they find useful, these folks often write their resume based on what they suppose would interest them.
I’ve talked about this concept in a previous post, but I want to expand on that idea here.
Sadly, our own impressions about what other people are interested in is often misguided, unless we have direct experience in that field or have close friends who work directly in that field.
Just ask someone who has opened a business — often, the first idea misses the mark entirely, when the would-be entrepreneur discovers that his or her audience is interested in something far different from what he or she has to sell.
In this short, 5-minute clip below, I discuss this issue at greater length in the context of a particular resume.
In this case, the job candidate has some incredible public relations experience that they are underselling to potential employers. In other words, they are not making a big enough deal out of something that is likely to greatly interest hiring managers in their chosen field.
I just happened to know this as I have some experience in that field, but in many cases, the only way to find out what hiring managers in a particular field want is to ACTUALLY RESEARCH THAT FIELD.
(Shocking, I know — but in general, we humans are shockingly bad at taking our own advice.)
The best way to do this is generally through:
- a basic Google search on the internet for articles and blogs by people in that field, followed by
- informational interviews with people in that field, using what you have learned online as a starting point for conversation.
I’ll cover this one-two research tactic in future posts, because it can do wonders in terms of tailoring your resume and amplifying its impact.
In the meantime, check out the clip and leave your thoughts in the comments below!