By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
The struggle when revamping a recipe is akin to the angst when rebuilding your resume.
Recently, in a lively Facebook discussion, I learned how to make a better egg dish. The processes I underwent mirrors what I see careerists face when cooking up a new resume – whether they hire a professional with which to collaborate or do it themselves.
The reality of my struggle emerged when I began adding more eggs to my diet and realized my egg-making skills were rather undernourished. I was applying my same old egg-dish developing strategies and getting the same old bland results.
The first process step to revamp my recipe was to admit I didn’t know it all and reach out for help. What started out as a conversation with Facebook friends about the value of eggs in our diets morphed into a Q&A about how to prepare egg dishes, the proper ways to make a fluffy scrambled egg, the best seasonings to enhance the flavor, ideal tools for stirring and other ingredients with which to plate your final egg dish.
Similarly, if your resume is stale, you may want to get outside of your own head and seek out better resume writing methods. Cooking an egg sounds simple, but once into the process, I realized the best outcomes required more thought. As well, careerists often gloss over the resume portion of their job search, considering the document to be a rather thought-less process. As a result, their resumes are flat, tasteless and uninteresting to the hiring manager’s palate.
To improve your resume, you likely need to dive deeper than dumping a few duties, dates, dollars and percentages into a Word template. Consider: what word seasonings will you need to dress up and punctuate the aroma of your message? What tools can you use to spur the thought juices? For starters, you will want to employ some sort of worksheet tool in which to brainstorm your focused career brain dump. As well, you might want to consult a resume book and other corporate communications resources from which to find more flavorful words.
You then may wish to research designs and strategies – without ‘stealing’ ideas, you can browse through websites where sample resumes are displayed, glean ideas and make them your own. Or, better yet, hire a professional resume writer, and you will immediately have a partner with which to weave your career resume recipe together.
Once you roll up your sleeves, you will realize the recipe for a strong, healthy resume is not comprised of a single ingredient nor simple process step. Instead, it requires nuance, finesse and a bit of je ne sais quoi.
Following is a brief recap of my egg-dish making journey. Thank you to Julie Walraven, Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of Design Resumes, and Suzie Kummins-Poirier, executive virtual assistant and founder of Ace Concierge, LLC, for their guidance in my recipe revamp journey.
Julie shared how she tops spinach leaves with her cooked eggs, and as a result, the spinach leaves wilt a bit for a yummy texture and flavor, so I began by plating up a few leaves of fresh spinach. Suzie shared how she uses whatever vegetables she has in her refrigerator and adds them to the scrambled egg mixture. So, I rummaged my fridge, found and cut up tomatoes, mushrooms and hot peppers. I didn’t fret over whether these were the ideal skillet-frying vegetables; I simply trusted the process and got momentum.
Next, with a little coconut oil melted in the bottom of the skillet, I cracked open several eggs, added a bit of water (per Julie’s suggestion), made sure the temperature was moderate so the eggs didn’t cook too fast (another suggestion from my friends) and began to quickly stir the egg mixture with a fork (Suzie’s great tip). I added rosemary and fennel seed, per Suzie.
The end result! I plated up two dishes, topped with bacon and served my husband and me for lunch. I knew it was a success when my husband asked me the next day if I would be preparing the same meal! It was a hit!
Here is an alternate egg dish I created a few days later, using fried eggs, but applying several of the same tips from my friends. My egg-making and design skills are still works in progress, but the point is, with a little extra effort, I’m already realizing positive results! Over time, the processes will continue to perfect, and as with the resume process, the end result will continue to be more refined and compelling.
Being open to new ideas and simply trying them out often nets good results! Sometimes what you may think is not worth the extra effort or time, or what may sound counterintuitive to your normal ways of doing things (even with a project as seemingly dry as building a resume), will delightfully surprise you! You might even find the process energizing and exciting. And best of all, your newly flavored resume will be a hit at the next job interview selection party!
Just the idea of writing a resume paralyzes many careerists. The fear of writer’s block, the angst associated with offending someone’s ambiguous rules, the frustration in trying to recall what you did, and when you did it — all of these feelings mix and meld to create a strong dislike for not only the act of writing a resume, but also in the resulting resume. Thus, why so many people plot and scheme for the resume just to ‘go away.’
The reality is, without a foundational resume story, the walls of your career communications crumble and the spacious rooms in which interested hiring decision makers may wander and inspect your story will shrink. Instead of a required drudgery, the resume–if approached in a new light–should be seen as a brilliant opportunity to create a cohesive snapshot of your career. It’s also a chance to fluidly and artfully draw the reader in.
Moreover, resumes often get a bad rap when defined just by a recruiter’s needs. It has been estimated that less than one percent of jobs are acquired through recruiters, so I never advise customizing your resume specifically to attract recruiters. Doing so may actually winnow out other game-changing interview opportunities–because strategies to fulfill recruiters’ needs don’t always allow for the compelling marketing you need for captivating other readers. In most instances, an alternative, pared down version of your more creative, inspiring resume can easily be prepared to satisfy the occasional recruiter need.
With that, I introduce you to my latest Glassdoor article on resume do’s and don’ts. I hope you enjoy further insights on the value of writing to capture interest, why boring and bland is out and why obsessing about ATS systems may actually derail your efforts. For the full post, visit: Do This, Not That: How To Make Your Resume More Effective.
By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
I admit to being highly concerned about TheLadders’ survey and the sweeping comments encouraging ‘minimalist’ resumes, asserting that resumes are only reviewed for 6 seconds and blacklisting the idea of visual images being incorporated into resumes, or what the article refers to as ‘chart junk.’
This simply is misinformation, or at the least, one-sided or incomplete information in my book! The chance of having a conversation with a recruiter that will lead to your next job is about .0035%; as such, job seekers redesigning their resume for recruiters’ eye tracking can possibly be detrimental to resume effectiveness, and to the job search at large. The reason I say this is because recruiter needs, motivations and preferences often are distinctly different from other hiring decision-maker preferences.
So passionate about this topic, I have a full-length blog post in the publishing pipeline for next Monday, but I could not contain myself from writing a few initial opinions on the matter today.
I’m genuinely concerned about many of the broad-sweeping and limiting assertions made around resume content and design, not only in TheLadders’ survey and follow-on articles, but in other self-proclaimed resume expert blogs as well.
Resume communications is self marketing, period! Losing sight of that to conform your resume to very rigid rules that dilute your appeal for a small-percentage of the resume review audience (i.e., recruiters) is bad advice.
And quite honestly, my experience and conversation with many professional and executive recruiters dismisses these limiting opinions, in that they DO read fully into the detail if the resume is focused on their (their clients’) needs. In fact, I’ve had resume clients say to me that they hired me to write their resume specifically based on recruiters telling them they needed and wanted MORE detail, the nuance, if you will of how they perform and lead in their jobs.
The key here is to be focused and meaty in how you present your information, so that you are speaking to THEIR needs, and not just dumping your life story into your resume.
I’ll have further opinions and ideas on this topic next week.
Until then, thank you for your interest in my initial insights!