In a world that has become driven by key words, relevant experience and short attention spans, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that resumes are actually telling a story. In this case, it is the story of your professional career. When your resume can convey you story, you greatly improve your chances of landing an interview.
This doesn’t mean that we are going to write in a long narrative, or include a novella just to get your foot in the door. Instead, the story within your resume is the turns and twists your career path may have taken, and why they led to where you are today.
The Complex Path
I was recently working with an executive on his resume. I quickly noticed that there was a pattern to his work history: every one to two years, he changed his job. A typical recruiter may assume that he was a job hopper. In truth, he was part of an established corporate succession plan that groomed him for more senior management positions as he completed critical components in each rotation.
When we re-designed his resume, we added in a summary of the leadership program into the overall company description, with the individual jobs falling underneath. Now instead of a job hopper, he looked like he was successfully climbing the corporate ladder – a highly desirable trait for senior management positions.
Telling your story is also critical when doing a career change. In this case, the challenge is convincing the recruiter not only that you have the skills to do the job, but the passion to make it in a new industry. One case where we frequently see this scenario is the transition into private service.
One way to show relevance in the new industry is to focus on transferable skills. It increases the key word count while allowing us to include important life skills. However, just loading up key words will only get so far.
Whenever work passion comes into play, the resume must have a strong personal profile or summary. It needs the short paragraph to explain why the candidate wants to make the change. In some cases, it may be a life-long dream. For others, it is the satisfaction in anticipating someone else’s needs. For another, it is knowing that they can deal with any contingency that may arise, all with a cool and calm demeanor.
The point? When the recruiters and the employers understand your passion, they are more likely to grant you the interview. Smart employers hire for the fit and train for the skill; part of any fit is a passion for the job.
I once helped a new college graduate with her career transition. Previously, she worked in IT, but went back to school to gain a degree in marketing. Following graduation, she had a series of interviews with a marketing company for a Marketing Coordinator position. She was not the most qualified candidate; in fact, she was missing some of the software applications critical for the job. However, we worked with her passion statement and coached her to speak about that passion in the job interview. In the end, she got the job – and before her first day, the company paid to send her to an InDesign class. And mind you, this was in January 2009 – at the height of the Recession.
Final note – Key Words still matter
In our search engine-driven world, key words still do matter as a major factor in any resume. While important, that doesn’t mean that need to be arranged in a boring manner. It is possible to tell your story while still capturing the right phrases to survive the screening process – it just takes some finesse and strategy.