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My #1 resumé tip (it’s not what you think)

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Alert: your resumé is still the essential currency of your job search.

Last week I presented a series on confidence in the tellent FB group (if you’re a woman figuring out how to pursue your career and life ambitions, you have to check out this amazing community).

When it came to having “guts” I suggested a simple exercise. Blow up your resumé. Just go ahead and write the resume for the job you want.

Sounds simple

…but most of you aren’t doing it. You think your resumé is a record of all the activities you’ve done in your working life.

Correction: it’s a marketing document for what you’re capable of doing next.

I work with a lot of clients on resumé’s. And they consistently report back to me, not only that they’re getting more interviews than before (primary purpose of the resumé), but that they have a better understanding of what they have to offer (confidence boost). Which means they’re better at identifying which jobs to apply for (less wasted time), and they’re better prepared for interviews (key for actually landing the job). Win-win-win-win!

So, I started thinking about my process, and what I can share with you, dear reader, to help you get the same results. And I came to a very simple realization, and one that I know many of you are overlooking:

The job posting is the question. Your resumé is the answer.

Which means you need to read the question. Then read it again.

One of my favourite clients from my early days consulting was a seasoned grandfather-type who headed up a compensation committee on the board of pretty big corporation. Every time I sent him a memo, and we got on the phone to discuss it, he would say this:

“Thanks for you memo, I read it. Then I read it again.”

I found this endearing. I worked exclusively for boards of directors in my early consulting career, which meant the average age of my clients was somewhere north of 60. Many had made it their business to be intimidating, on purpose. Many acted as if some memo was barely worth skimming, let alone reading twice, because, obviously, they already had all the answers.

This guy was different. He seemed grounded, normal even. When he shared that he had read the memo twice, it felt sweet and self-deprecating. But actually it made him smarter than the others. It was a process he had honed, and it worked. He had a clearer grasp of the issues, asked more thoughtful questions and moved forward more quickly.

So, read the job description twice.

Then, answer the job description

Should you use their key words where it makes sense to do so? Yes.

Should you highlight the skills they’re looking for, which you have, in a way that makes it very obvious to them? Yes. *I love highlighting skills in a list in the top third of the page for this*

Should you explain the impact you’ve had in your other jobs, and how those experiences align with the impact this job is asking you to make? Yes.

Should you assume a simple tracking system or human with little time is skimming it, and give both exactly what they need quickly and easily to make you worth meeting? Yes and yes.

Whatever field you’re in, whatever stage of your career, the single best thing you can do to get your resumé through the first screen is to read the job description. Twice. Read the question, then answer it.

Time consuming? Maybe.

Worth it? Yes.

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