I used to hate resume writing. I dreaded doing it because of the emotional baggage instead of the actual writing itself. It is only a one-page writing exercise outline things that I know by heart. It should only take 2-3 hours. So why the pain?
Resume-writing often comes during a time of uncertainty in my life. I might be in-between jobs or unhappy with the current job I have. Resume-writing also brought along the emotional baggage because it shed a direct spotlight on my own inabilities and self doubts. The burning question of “Am I good enough for this job” weighed heavily in my heart and mind during the entire writing process. And as such, I avoided writing it as long as I could.
Now after many trials and errors of being both an interviewer and interviewee, I have a different mindset. I view the resume-writing process as a learning experience. Learn about new cool companies, innovative products, and exciting services. Learn also about the impact I have delivered in my work. Learn also about my own skills gaps so that I can take action to address them.
In writing a resume, I want to you know that it is ok to not have the exact fit that the job asks for. This is common as you might be looking to change industry, change role, change experience and/or push your limits. In fact, I encourage you to apply for jobs that might not be a 100% fit as long as you are passionate about the job and want to push yourself (but don’t do it just for the sake of applying for random jobs).
In writing a resume, focus on what you can do and do not spend any energy on the self-doubts. There will always be things that are outside of your control. For example, I applied for a dream job that asked for past experience of working in Australia which I did not have. I made a case that I will be able to compensate that gap with other skills. Focus on what you can do, do your best, and let go of the self-doubts.
Now that we are in positive mindset, let’s go set up someplace breezy with a nice view and get started.
- Be concise. Remember that a recruiter is likely looking at hundreds of resumes. So be concise. You do not have to write a perfect resume that gets you hired on the spot. You job is to write an impactful and concise resume to establish initial fit so that you can get to the next stage: a screening interview.
- Keep it under 1 page
- Each job experience should only have around 3 bulletin points.
- Each bulletin points have about 2 sentences.
Three steps to writing an impactful resume:
- Read carefully what the job description is asking for. From there narrow down 3 main requirements to address. You have to make a judgement call on which are the top 3 requirements.
- In the first sentence, describe your work that address their first requirement. Use powerful and proactive verbs like (Lead, Manage, Design, Implement, Build, Solve, Create, Coordinate, Win). Avoid neutral and reactive verbs like (Work closely, Liaising, Participate). To see a list of 185 powerful verbs to use, click here>>
- In the second sentence, state the impact of your work. Give as much metrics and numbers as possible so that the readers understand your work.
Actual Example: You are applying for a job as Learning & Development Manager in an HR Department. They are asking for three skills:
- (1) You need to know how to design training curriculum
- (2) You need to know how to measure the success of the training
- (3) You need to know how to work across different departments to carry out the training.
Below is an example of a weak resume. The person makes the mistake of simply list out the work experience without customization and clearly defined impact of the work. The three work experiences here do not clearly match the three requirements that the employer is looking for. As a candidate, you need to make the job of the recruiter really easy. If they have to read a lot of text to understand your fit, they will get confuse and reject your application since they still have hundreds more to read.
Example of a Weak Resume because it does not match against the needs of the employer stated above:
- Lead the executive team in event planning, resources allocation and budgeting activities.
- Drive recruitment strategy through engaging with alumni network, organizing talks, inbound enquiries and digital marketing to convert leads into sales.
- Coordinate with high-profile leaders, speakers and content producers to design training curriculum
Example of what to do: customize your resume to address the three top requirements of the employer. Use powerful verbs and describe impact with metrics.
- Address the employer’s need of being able to design curriculum training:
Head a team of content experts and L&D executives to design training curriculum, assessment methods, and strategic roadmap. Successfully directed 15 local and overseas leadership programs with NPS by 75 and high satisfaction rate (4.4/5 on content impact and 4.7/5 on training organization).
- Address employer’s need of knowing how to measure the success of the training
Develop metrics to measure the success of the past events. From these metrics, I successfully organized Leadership Conference in March 2016 equipping 350 executives and managers in Hong Kong.
- Address employer’s need of being able to work across multiple departments
Managed complex projects of running a Regional Leadership Conference of 1,200 participants from 20 countries. Gathered inputs, coordinated cross-functional cooperation, and made executive decisions swiftly in order for the conference to address all stakeholders’ needs.
Have fun. If you have any question, please go to Inner Fire LinkedIn Group and let us know.