Here is the frustrating question: “I need to redo my resume because I want a new job. What should I put in it?”
It’s a frustrating question…because I can’t answer it. So, I ask questions. And then I start frustrating the person asking the question, usually because they don’t know the answers.
Basic stuff, really. Like, what job title do you want to apply for? Yes, basic as that.
You can’t blame the person, either — I was once like that in my career. I wanted out of a job, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed to update my resume. Then, when I updated my resume, I started to go looking for jobs. When I found something I thought I would like and would qualify for, I submitted my resume. This is especially true if you not only want out of a job, but out of the entire industry.
This is not a successful approach.
The question is this: Does my resume match the job description of the job I want?
That drives a different set of actions on your part.
You need to find a job that appeals to you. Always a good thing, right? A job that appeals to you?
Now you have something to work with. Get ten of these job descriptions of jobs that appeal to you and now you really have something to work with.
Remember that the only purpose of the resume is to get the interview. Nothing else. So the person actually reading your resume is going to do something very straightforward that few people remember: that person is going to look at your resume and compare it to the job description. The more check marks you get for job skills needed for the work on your resume compared to the job description, the bigger your chance of getting an interview.
It is as simple, and as complicated, as that.
You have a base set of skills, education, and experience to put in your resume, of course. But to have an effective resume, a set of job descriptions will drive your content, show your strengths, and highlight your weaknesses.
And having this rational look at your resume against job descriptions will show how you need to drive your career to gain the skills you need to get the jobs you want.
The key here is that the person reading your resume and trying to decide if you deserve to get an interview will first try to answer this question: Can this person (you) DO the job? Do you have the job skills? If the job description calls for advanced laser surgery for the eyes and you’ve never used a laser machine before, you won’t get the interview. “Can you do the job?” is the first big question that needs a ‘yes’ answer in order for you to move on in the process.
Do you have at least one job description of a job that appeals to you? Hopefully more than one from different companies for the same type of position so you can get a more complete picture for your resume.
Here’s what you do:
When you do this analysis — especially with multiple job descriptions for the same type of position — you’ll quickly discover how much is missing from your resume that should be in it. And you’ll quickly see what holes you need to fill in terms of your job skills and certifications in order to up the number of check marks you get when a person reading your resume starts comparing it to their job description.
What I’ve been demonstrating here is applying for a new job that is, essentially, the same as your own, just in a different company. It’s an important use case, for sure, and it will answer the critical question of “what should I put in my resume?”.
But there are other use cases. The two that come top of mind are these:
If you’ve now done this process and searched your resume for each of these job skills to get that gold star check mark match to the job description, what did you learn?
If your resume is 99.9% (made up number…but really high) like all the others out there, finding where you listed a job skill on your resume that matched up with the job description was a painful, reading the whole resume, time-consuming task. And you know your own resume. Now imaging a recruiter trying to do the same thing with your resume and their job description. That recruiter won’t take that long to look. Maybe 20-seconds is all you have to keep things going.
That’s why you should seriously sign up for my video series on building the first page of the resume. It’s a game changer in these situations and will totally change how your resume is viewed by recruiters and hiring managers. Sign up below and get instant access to the video series.