Last week I visited a small group of college interns who work in Madison. My goal was to engage them in a high-level discussion of best practices for resume writing.
As I built my presentation, I spent time thinking about what's important and what's not when it comes to resumes. (Writing is only a small part of any battle, isn't it? I swear it's really 1/3 writing, 1/3 editing, 1/3 thinking and thinking and thinking...)
I walked into this session with a pretty clear goal in mind: remind these college students that a resume is flexible; it's a marketing tool.
Based on our Q&A session, it's clear that I didn't reinforce "marketing tool" enough. I have to do it again and again. I have to stay it here. I have to say it with clients. I have to say it anywhere.
I have to be the broken record because I keep hearing about a perception that a resume is a hard and fast -- it operates by a set of rules that were made by someone unknown. "You must have an objective" or "It can only be one page."
First, reject most of these hard and fast rules.*
Second, remind yourself that the resume is a marketing tool (see how I keep bolding this?). It's the vehicle that gets you to the next step in the application process. We want to get you an interview. Your resume must adapt and change based on the industry, on your experience, on the specific position and on whatever requirements are needed for that role. You need to market what you have and how that meets the requirements, qualifications and job expectations.
Approach each resume and application with a fresh a eye that isn't controlled by a rule, but instead, asks a basic question with answers that change each time you ask, "Am I selling myself to the best that I can for this position?"
Or more bluntly, "Looking at my resume, would I feel confident in hiring me?"
Make it so! And of course, don't forget there are people who can help you. (me!)
*Yes, yes, there are certainly resume rules. They address writing, grammar, length, typography, design, etc. There are always rules, but I see too many clients in all phases of their careers who can't position themselves strategically because they approach a resume rules-first and not marketing-first.