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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Resuming: the Search for Work


“Over-caffeinated writer . . . power-doodler, scribbler of words and big pictures. . .

Strategic. Creative. Team leader. Team player.  Tinker, tailor. . . 
soldier, sailor. . . still seeking 

Uch!  If there’s anything more mind-numbing than reading a resume, it’s got to be writing one.  

Know any good resume doctors out there?   Bring ’em on.  Send me their names. My resume needs work. 

Seems to me that my resume was doing just fine, humming along, minding its own business.  It was short and sweet and sassy, when slam-bam, the doors closed on my place of employment and I was sent packing . . . off to see new Wizards, to seek new adventure and fortune, to follow the Yellow Brick Road, portfolio in hand.  


Uch.  If there’s anything more exciting and challenging than working at a job you love, it’s got to be finding another job you love... 
"Good luck," they tell me. 

Now, if only I had a resume-brain: I would take my current resume and shred it.  Cut it to pieces. Reader-friendly?  Who cares!  What I need is computer-friendly, a quick and easy scan online.  A resume is a document, plain and clear, a record of achievements  - not a showboat of work.  For godsake, pity the poor, beleaguered readers in HR who wade through hundreds of resumes just like mine, eating them for breakfast every morning.  
Uch. If only I could take my own words of advice.  

Can there be anything worse than a writer - overwriting a resume?  I don’t think so.  Every time I pull from my files that current “word perfect” resume, I find something imperfect.   I revise, I proofread, I second-guess my reader, and revise again, and even then,  I can’t give it a rest.  
Crazy and sad, but true. You’d think after all these years - writing for a living -  that writing a killer resume would be a no-brainer.  Well, not for me.  
Why is everything that I put on the page never enough - and always too much?  Why do I feel every line needs justification?  Why must every word carry its weight in gold?  
In what font will the finished document speak volumes?  Why can’t I keep it simple? What will it take to put that ever-ready smile and best foot forward in cyberspace without losing my footing (and headings, margins and windows) and falling into the abyss where resumes are never seen and companies are never heard from again?
Exactly.   
Please, won’t someone just tell me: 
  • Who’s out there, actually reading those resumes submitted online? 
  • What do screen-bots, Applicant Tracking Systems and CRMs know that I don’t and to whom may it concern?  
  • How do you flaunt a “wealth of experience” without flashing your age? 
  • Does brevity show confidence and authority?  Or does it suggest a lack of imagination?
  • When asked for writing samples, do pictures work, too?
  • And yikes, is that I typo I just-this-minute discovered in the first line of my cover letter?  
It is said that one’s resume should be a living document (something akin to a living will?).  Keep it current, they say.  Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious, never let your guard down on the job, be ready for the next thing, because it’s coming your way sooner than you think.   Get out that resume and update, update, update...
Updating daily, I will say this: grappling with my current resume has been a learning experience -  deflating and frustrating at times, but a learning experience all the same. 

Based on that experience  ( and in the immortal words of my father: “Do as I say, not as I do.”)  let me share with you:
Five Cardinal Sins of Resume-Writing
1. Cleverness.  I could describe how I landed a position at a Jewish organization by mentioning gefilte fish on my resume, but forget it.  Humor on a resume is rarely in the eye of the beholder.  
2. Wordiness: Keeping the writing crisp and short gives you the edge, not to mention fewers margins for grammatical errors and typos.  
3. Carelessness.  Face it, even with a B.A in English, the best of intentions and the keenest eye, you’re going to miss a typo  -- or a misapplied SpellCheck (like turning an “excerpt” into except.)    Give yourself some time. Cut your resume a break. Have at least two other people proof your work.  And to proofread on your own read outloud -- slowly. 
4. Blandness:  according to experts, including Resumes for Dummies,  an effective resume is chock-full of powerful, action words.  It’s not enough to be responsible.  Don’t just manage. Launch. Lead. Take charge. Spearhead. Initiate. Excel. Spin your tale. But be truthful. 
5. Artsiness:  Unless you’re a rock star, don’t use a photo.  Unless you’re a graphic designer, loose the logo.   Avoid columns and other quirks of formatting.   Use bullets and stick to basic, computer friendly fonts.
Last Words:  Resume. Shmesume. 
Keep in perspective that your resume is only a tool, a blunt object you pick up, dust off and polish from time to time. Getting the job done is still about networking - it’s who you know, where you’ve been, the links and friends, colleagues and the real connections you’ve made.  

So much for my little pep-talk-to-myself today. If you’ve got advice and experience, resume-wise or otherwise, your words of wisdom are welcome here.  And thanks for stopping by.

Photos:VHenoch
(And this just in from LinkedIn...)
  1. 5 minutes To Optimize Your Linkedin Profile 
  2. What Color Is Your Parachute? Hope In A Desperate Marketplace. (video)
  3. Have You Lost Hope In The Job Market ? NBC News Reports (Video)
  4. “2011 Fair Playing Field Act to Protect All American Workers Against Age Discrimination”
  5. New Job Market For Boomers:Short Term Employment
  6. How To Work For A Younger Boss.(NBC Today Show Video)
  7. Are You Prepared For Tricky Behavioral Interview Questions? 
  8. Job Hunting Tips For Professionals Over 40

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