Resumes are boring.
With applicant tracking systems controlling the initial screening process, writing a resume has been distilled into an SEO exercise: use enough of the keywords to get you past the software algorithm and into the hands of a real, live human.
The result is that resumes are largely formulaic and, often generic.
They also comprise only 10% of the hiring process.
And yet, we obsess over them. Sometimes the endless nitpicking and wordsmithing can get in the way of actually looking for a job. If this applies to you, do yourself a favor. Ask someone you trust to proofread it and then get out there and start talking to people. (Yes, you should have different versions for the different positions you apply for.)
On average, recruiters spend 8 seconds on a resume. 8 seconds.
How much time have you spent procrastinating over it?
Here are the top 5 reasons I’ve heard from clients that cause people to procrastinate, and why they shouldn’t. People procrastinate is that they are uncomfortable talking about themselves, they have only a vague sense of what they “accomplished” and the results they got, or they are so traumatized by their last position they don’t know where to begin. Let me help you.
1. I don’t like to brag about myself.
Well, we don’t like it either. Arrogance is a huge turnoff; confidence is attractive. Your job in creating a resume is to tell the facts. Your resume is simply a presentation of information that an employer needs in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to bring you in for an interview.
What you need is a way to reframe how you think about your resume. In order to help an employer find the best candidate, they need to know what you’ve done and what you are capable of doing. Simple.
If you’re really stuck, pretend that you are writing about someone else who has done all the same things you have. What would a future employer need to know about that candidate?
2. I have gaps in my resume that I’m embarrassed about and don’t want to explain.
Join the party. Since the recession of 2008, lots of people have gaps. What’s far more important is how you talk about it in an interview. But you don’t have to figure that out today. Today you need to finish this silly resume that recruiters only spend 8 seconds on. Don’t try to hide the gaps. Think of it this way, if you have the skills and expertise an employer is looking for, you owe it to them to send them your resume. Otherwise, it’s just selfish. J
3. It’s going to take forever to write one; I haven’t had a resume since Y2K.
Ok, so let’s make that easier. First, you only need to go back in your professional history 10, maybe 15 years. Second, break the process into smaller chunks. Set a timer for 30 minutes (or 15 if you’re really stressed) and work only on one section. Maybe start with the part that seems the easiest.
For example, focus only on one company/job title at a time and simply brainstorm everything that comes to mind. I like brainstorming on paper or a dry erase board and brightly colored magic markers because it takes the formal feel out of it.
And when that timer goes off, STOP. Go do something else that gives your brain a rest. Walk the dog, fold laundry, make dinner, whatever. Not only are you asking your brain to remember a lot of information and decide how to phrase it and present it, but your brain is also probably working very hard to keep those negative voices in your head from taking over and paralyzing you. Again.
4. I hate writing.
If you can find a willing friend, talk out loud and have the other person take notes on what you say. Your friend can ask questions about what you did. What were your responsibilities? What did you like about the job? What kind of problems did you encounter (more on this below) and how did you address them?
You could also record it in your phone and simply type it up later if talking to someone else feels awkward. For some people, processing information out loud is easier than in writing. Bottom line, you just need something on paper or a computer screen.
5. I didn’t accomplish anything. I just did my job.
Brainstorm all the problems you encountered at work, whether they were problems with people, processes or technology. Yes, you can use a magic marker for this too. Just vomit up all the problems you encountered. For each problem, what did you do (if anything)? Now take a look at this handy list of verbs, and follow these steps.
Step 1. Choose a verb from the list that corresponds to what you did. Example: Automated
Step 2. What did you [chosen verb], e.g., What did you automate?
Step 3. How did this action you took [your chosen verb] benefit the company, your coworkers or your clients? Example: saved accounting department time and made sure employees got paid on time with fewer mistakes
Step 4. Now, put it all together like this by filling in the bracketed information:
Your chosen verb [answer to 2] so that [answer to 3].
Using our example:
Automated the payroll process to save accounting department time and made sure employees got paid on time with fewer mistakes.
Put a bullet point in front of that sucker and you have just described what you accomplished and have your first bullet point for your resume. Yee ha!
Your period of procrastination is officially OVER. All you need to do is choose verbs and fill in the blanks for the problems you encountered. Get an ugly draft of the bullet points before you worry about what belongs where and whether it’s important…just get the words down.
Once you have the raw material for your resume, then take ask someone you trust who knows what they are talking about to take a look at it. Once you have the rough draft, the rest is just formatting and polishing.
If you or someone you know someone can’t face their resume or feels stuck in their job, email me to set up a free 30-minute career breakthrough session. What are you waiting for?