Showcasing your skills the right way
Over the last few weeks I have been helping a number of our graduating students with their resumes. What I am struck by time and time again, even with the most experienced and qualified people, is their inability to sell themselves in their resume and job application and, to transfer skills learned and honed in one field to another and their chosen or preferred job.
Two examples come to mind. One is a mid-career lady who has had quite an impressive career in her chosen field and is currently working at the top end of middle management and the other is an successful property developer.
Both these people come with an extensive list of desirable and required skill sets for their chosen jobs as well as the careers they want to move into. The first wants to move into HRM from more than a 10 year career in people management and the other wants to move into project management after an impressive career in property development where he would win tenders, purchase land, build large residential blocks and sell them on.
Both these people did a Diploma Program with the College. The first in Human Resources Management online and the other the Diploma of Project Management. Both found their respective programs of study were familiar to them as they both practised many of the same skill sets in their current jobs yet neither, when it came to re-writing their resumes to their chosen job applications, could transfer their skills and knowledge and re-write the content to reflect the HRM or PM environment.
Instead both resumes gave a good run down of their current and past jobs but neither encouraged the reader to see how their experience and skill sets would benefit a company looking for top notch HR Professionals or exceptional Project Manager.
Even more surprisingly (and it’s the same with an overwhelming number of our mid-career students), is their total inability to sell themselves, to highlight their career achievements and to make it clear to the reader just how skilled they are.
Yet, we all know that you only get the one initial crack at a great job. If you can’t impress your reader with a standout and engaging resume and get past the shortlisting, then, you have no hope of selling yourself at interview with your charming smile, engaging personality and wealth of experience. No one will ever know.
It’s actually surprisingly easy to sell yourself in your resume and so here are a few tips to get you started on the right track.
7 Tips to Sell Yourself with your Resume
- Start with a statement about you, your career goal or aspirations or your values that outline the type of organisation you want to work for and why. If you can you should personalise this for every job application you do so that it reflects something about what’s important to you in the job you are responding to. If you’re changing careers then it’s here that you give a one or two sentence explanation. For example:
“With more than 10 years’ experience as a senior manager in a large multi-national company I feel I am ready to use my considerable people management skills and the wisdom I’ve gained along the way in a more focused HR Professional role where I can work with line managers to assist them with strategies and processes to……….”
- List your formal qualifications. Now always do this from the highest qualification received to the lowest. Not chronological order. So, if you have a PhD that you received 20 years ago then list it at the top of the list even if you do now have a much more relevant Diploma now.
- List any other certificates as well as your technical skills. So if you have done a course in MS Project or you have PRINCE2 Certification then list it here. You can also list here your general computer, social media & internet skills. This is a field that many people think is not required at a more senior level but, the more skills you have the less you’ll be looking for someone else to do your work for you. So, if you’ve used a well-known proprietary data base or software application then say so and include your level of proficiency. For example Visio – advanced, Drupal – competent and so on.
- Include a list of skills and/or attributes. You can dot point these and it’s here that you need to re-write your skill sets to reflect the new career environment that you’re hoping to enter. So you need to use the profession specific terminology you’ve learned in your Diploma Course and make sure your dot points reflect the words in the job advertisement and/or the key selection criteria as well as the ‘hot’ buttons for the profession. So, in HR it might be metrics and analytics while in Project Management it might be governance and productivity. It’s not unusual when responding to a middle/senior position advertisement to have 10-20 dot points and don’t be bashful, find creative ways to describe what you can do. For example: ‘Highly skilled in consultation, able to influence and build rapport with a diverse range of stakeholders.’
- Next you need to summarise your career history. Now this is also a section that lets many good applicants down. So you might start this section with a summary of your career to date but focusing on the elements that relate to the new career/job you are applying for. For example: ‘Over 10 years’ experience as a senior manager with various multinational institutions ….. In various management roles I have gained significant hands on experience in: Performance Management; Recruitment & Selection process………….’
- Now we get to the actual career summary. So what have you done? Here there is a tried and true formula to follow. You need to include:
– The name of the company and the role you were employed in
– The dates you were employed in the role; for example Aug. 2010 – Ongoing
– A summary paragraph about the company and your role in it
– A dot-point list of key responsibilities
– A list of key achievements
It’s important that you capture here all the key aspects of your role. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the reader can or will join the dots or see the links, you must tell them what you’ve done and you mustn’t be shy about it. If you won employee of the month or year while in this role then say so under your key achievements. Likewise, if you saved the company millions of dollars then say so too!
You need to do this for every job you’ve had in the last 10 years or so, prior to that you can just do a summary of companies and jobs held. Another important point to note here is to make sure there are no gaps in your employment history. If you do have a gap then fill it with an acceptable reason such as ‘sabbatical’ , ‘travel’ or ‘maternity leave’. It’s not a good idea to acknowledge ‘unemployment’ instead find a more creative experience for this period such as ‘time off to study full time’ or ‘family time’ etc. It’s important not to leave anything to the reader’s imagination. Make sure they know you have nothing to hide.
7. The final section of your resume should address referees and it should quite simply state that these are available upon request. You should never include referee names and contact details in an initial job application. This is downright rude as you have an obligation to notify your referees every time you release their name and contact details to a third part.
Okay, so that’s it – 7 key sections that you need to take the time to write well. Once you’ve put the effort in to get it to a professional level then all you need do is to keep it updated and tweaked for specific job/roles. Of course there are other sections you might want to add such as ‘hobbies’ or ‘interests’ but I find these are usually quite job specific , so, an optional extra when called for.
The accompanying letter of application is whole other story so I’ll that there for today.