The Goldilocks Syndrome of Resume Writing

Most job seekers do not take the time to research what they need in order to prepare a resume that will sell their qualifications to a hiring company. It has been said that preparing a resume is comparable to preparing a tax return. In short, a real drag! Although it is not mandatory to have a resume in many situations, it must be prepared properly when it is required and with more creativity than what goes into preparing a tax return!

So where do you begin? For starters, you will need an objective, followed by a summary of qualifications, work history, education, and computer skills section. Sounds reasonably straightforward, right? So why is it so hard for people to write their own resume?

10 STEPS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED

Some job seekers have a short work history and do not know how to make the most of their work and non-work related experience, skills, and attributes. Other job seekers have backgrounds that are so extensive, they do not know where to draw the line, and make the mistake of including too much information. Still, other job seekers have just the right amount of experience, but they do not know how to effectively present their experience and most impressive selling points on paper.

The following steps will simplify the process:

1. Decide on the position and research various sources to find job ads outlining the requirements of the position.

2. Do a skills inventory exercise by making a checklist from the list of job requirements.

3. Take the requirements matching your qualifications and write a rough draft of experience next to each requirement along with a note of which employer.

4. Organize all of the roughly drafted sentences under each employer listing the most recent employer first and work your way down the page (“reverse chronological order”)

5. Polish the sentences being sure to start each one with an action verb such as managed,
coordinated, and supervised, and leave out pronouns such as I, she, and he.

6. In addition to your routine work activities, do your best to list a few select accomplishments. This could include learning a new software at work and training another person to “increase productivity” or to save the employer money by avoiding the need to pay a software training school to teach their employees.

7. Do not list sentences about your attributes in place of experience. For example, under Professional Experience or Work History, do not write, “Ensure workflow efficiencies exercising exceptional organizational and time management skills.” This is not specific enough about job-specific responsibilities. You can, however, include a statement like this under your Summary of Qualification as one of your attributes. Do not limit your Summary of Qualifications section to only attributes. Make sure you strike a balance between experience overview, skills, and attributes.

8. Decide which categories you will need. For example, if you have a recent degree and limited experience, put the Education first. If you have mostly experience, list Education last. If you have impressive academic credentials that were obtained a few years back and want them to see that right away, still list it last, but mention the credential in your profile or summary section.

9. Include an objective statement. Do not make the mistake of not including an objective thinking that you do not want to limit your opportunities. If you take this approach, the reader will not know what position you are targeting and will most likely toss your resume in the trashcan. You cannot be all things to all companies. This goes back to the first step in the exercise – choose what you want to do. Then build the resume around that objective.

10. Format your resume so it is attractive. Be consistent with the style of the headings, dates, locations, and bolding. For example, if you abbreviate the name of the state where you worked, make sure it is abbreviated in your address at the top and throughout the resume with the exception of the sentences. Do not include the day of the month you were hired. Limit it to the month and year. Do not include the full address of the employer. This is for the job application form, not the resume.

First section: Objective

An objective for a jobseeker’s first resume is very important because the reader cannot skim the experience section to make a quick assumption what a job seeker has to offer and is looking to do. The objective statement should be specific, not making the mistake of being too cliche but stating something so general as “seeking a position with a large organization offering career growth opportunities” because that says absolutely nothing and is all about what you want, not what you have to offer the hiring company. They have a business to run and are looking to hire people who want to contribute, not just take. That said, the objective should read this way: “Ambitious sports enthusiast exploring a position in sports marketing. Offer a recent
degree in Marketing, valuable field internship experience and three years of work experience in special events coordination and public relations.”

This is how the section should look:

OBJECTIVE

Ambitious sports enthusiast exploring a position in sports marketing. Offer a recent degree in Marketing, valuable field internship experience and three years of experience in special events coordination and public relations

Second Section: Summary of Qualifications

A Summary of Qualifications section “summarizes” a job seeker’s selling points relevant to the job they are applying for. The easiest format is a few bulleted sentences, each dedicated to experience, skills, credentials and attributes.

This is how the section should look:

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS

* Offer five years of experience in customer service and workshop coordination.

* Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Marketing; consistently maintain excellent grades.

* Work full time to finance education to avoid the need for student loans.

* Possess excellent organizational, interpersonal communication, and problem resolution skills.

* Creative thinker with a proven ability to size up a situation and bring new ideas to the table.

Third Section: Education

A job seeker may have five years of experience, but it is not in their chosen field or in direct alignment with their pending bachelor’s degree. So, their most impressive selling point is their education. Tip: when a degree is pending, it is advantageous to include a short list of the most important courses. Do not list high school if you have college experience. It is understood. The exception would be if you are in your first year of college ad have very accomplished experience in high school.

This is how the section should look:

EDUCATION

Name of College, Town, XX
Pursuing Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing; expected December 2007
Current GPA: 3.7

Select Coursework:

* Principles of Marketing

* Marketing Research

* Managerial Accounting

* Organizational Communications

* Business Policy and Strategy

Fourth Section: Work History

Until you have strong and extensive experience in your “profession” you should hold off on using the category “professional experience” and opt for “work history”. This job seeker’s work history is in customer service as a waitress. Although the term “customer service” is not the same as a customer service position in an office setting, it is still servicing customers. As long as this job seeker can justify their reasoning behind using customer service as their area of experience, they will not be stumped in an interview.

The first line of this section should include the company name, town, and state, but not the door address. That information should only be included on a job application form. On the same line as the company name and location over to the right margin, the employment dates. The job title should be listed on the second line in bold. There are formatting variations from resume to resume, but this is the basic approach.

In this position, the job seeker worked in a pizzeria as a waitress. Although this is the actual title the job seeker will list, the description will indicate that they provide customer service excellence. This way they can use the keyword phrase “customer service” in the Summary of Qualifications section and in the cover letter.

This is how the section should look:

WORK HISTORY

Rocco’s Pizzeria, Town, XX X/XX to Present

Second Shift Waitress

* Provide excellence in customer service to an average of 80 patrons per shift.

* Train new staff members on shift procedures and restaurant policies.

* Assist with the planning and set up of in-house and off-site catering services.

Fifth Section: Community Involvement

This section will convey a strong work ethic, willingness to contribute to the community, experience working with people, an ability to plan, organize, coordinate and carry out a program, and good communication,
analysis, and problem solving skills.

This is how this section should look:

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Strikes and Spares Bowling Alley, Town, XX X/XX to X/XX

Volunteer Bowling Instructor

* Conduct bowling workshops to individuals and groups of six to eight children ages 5 to 10.

* Work with pro shop to promote workshops and sell bowling balls at discounted rates.

* Coordinate fundraisers to raise monies for awards, marketing campaigns, and competitions.

Sixth Section: Computer Skills

Most people have basic computer skills such as Microsoft Word. It is acceptable to list the names of software programs without indicating the proficiency level.

This is how this section should look:

COMPUTER SKILLS

MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint and Internet research

—————————–

Let’s do another one!

—————————–

This client has a 25-year sketchy background that includes several career transitions. Career choices range from her early beginnings as a music education teacher to her business partnership in video production, which is ongoing and sporadic, to her more recent experience in retail sales. In between, she raised her children and obtained a bachelor’s degree in media production. Additional experience includes office managerial positions and part-time evening work as a dispatcher for an alarm company that she is not unsure about listing it on her resume. She is now looking to leverage her career in a position with a TV video production company so she can explore a position where her eclectic background in managing a similar business will be utilized and developed. So how should she do her resume?

This job seeker has decided to target a position as a senior technician and work her way up the ranks. She is very confident, and knows that this foot-in-the-door position will launch her new career. The emphasis will be placed on her work producing independent films, her technical expertise, (retail) business management and music education experience.

First section: Objective Statement (Target Position)

Unlike an objective statement, a title objective consists of a few words that serve as a headliner to brands the job seeker and expresses their objective. This is done best if the job seeker is experienced in that occupational discipline. Using a title objective rather than a sentence-style objective statement is much more direct and very powerful. If a job seeker is transitioning to a new career, the use of a title objective can be initially misleading. It is helpful to preface the title objective with a statement such as “Target Position” or “Position of Interest”.

This is how the objective statement should look:

TARGET POSITION: SENIOR TECHNICIAN, TV PRODUCTION

Second section: Profile

Unlike the Summary of Qualifications section, a profile is a paragraph that is more of a bio rather than a few simple sentences. It tells a story and is much stronger in language. The goal is the same, in that it conveys the scope of experience, skills, credentials and attributes relevant to the position of interest. You do not need to use the actual word Profile as you would use Summary of Qualifications in our first example.

This is how the Objective Statement and Profile sections should look when combined:

TARGET POSITION: SENIOR TECHNICIAN, TV PRODUCTION

Multi-talented business management professional with a strong career path that combines music education, business ownership in media / video production and business management. Strong team leader and client consultant known for ability to develop scalable solutions that dramatically improve efficiency and productivity through management of project specifications, timelines, resources, and budget requirements from point of planning through production.

Third section: Professional Experience

Sometimes a chronological resume will not work because the most recent experience is not the most relevant experience. So, a combination resume is the strategy that should be used. The combination format combines the elements of a functional (skills based) and chronological format. Professional Experience will be the main category, followed by sub-categories that are appropriately named according to the function or job title. These will be Video Production; Music Education; Business Management (retail). Notice how the category is not called Retail Sales Management. Rather, “retail” is given a backseat because it is not the focus as much as the business management end of what this job seeker does. But, before we even get to that point, a chronology of employment will be listed first.

This is how the section should look:

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Managing Partner, Video Production Studios, Town, X/XX – Present

VIDEO PRODUCTION

* Direct the hiring, training, supervision, and evaluation of a production staff and volunteers.

* Fully coordinate the logistical operations of program productions.

* Conceptualized, developed, and produced 30-minute interview and music shows.

* Supervise and approve show format, host, theme song, and casting.

* Plan and organize the scheduling of program channels and the casting of community events.

* Oversee the implementation of all technical requirements and conduct group-training sessions.

* Manage projects and technical teams and program schedules.

* Direct stage productions; conduct orchestras; and create, edit, and produce videos.

* Build and administer system networks and handle all aspects of creative technical writing.

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

* Serve as a team member responsible for developing and implementing business plans.

* Manage weekly status meetings to instill uniform vision of product development.

* Execute the distribution and promotion of all new product lines.

* Produce voice-overs, audio calls, and on-camera product introductions.

* Lead the market push of six new products from conception to completion.

* Coordinate the design of graphics to created product branding.

* Train video editors and operations staff in the delivery of scripts.

* Directed product production, achieving a year-over-year cost savings of 25%

* Reduced defect reductions from 15% per unit to less than 4% per unit.

Fourth Section: Education

Often, highly experience or more senior-level professionals have graduated over ten years ago. They do not want to emphasize their age or to show that their education was so far back. So, the best thing to do is omit the date. Since their experience far outweighs their education, they do not need to list their GPA either. The best approach is to keep it as simple as possible.

This is how the section should look:

EDUCATION

Music Conservatory, Town, XX

Bachelor of Arts in Music

Fifth Section: Computer Skills

In some cases, there is specialized software in addition to the usual MS Word and Excel. It is a good idea either list them first or use subcategories so the technical software stands out. If there is a series of applications that all start with Adobe, Microsoft or Apple, it is a good idea to list the company name once, followed by the specific software from that company. When using this approach, keep the group together on their own line or separated by a semi-colon.