Resume writing is a second-cousin to de-clogging the shower drain, cleaning the trash can after the leftovers spilled over, or emptying the vacuum bag of nasty hair and string.
It’s one of those things that we generally dread doing but needs to get done (and can sometimes be a hairy process, pun intended). About a year ago I reviewed 150 resumes in a one-week period for a leadership program. After resuscitating myself, a few consistent gaps became apparent that, if altered, could maximize the impact of a resume.
Aside from this 150-resume-binge, I have sat on numerous search committees and coordinated multiple programs that require resumes as part of the application. In fact, I fancy myself a pretty good judge of quality resumes. From personal experience, I can tell you that, in general, a reviewer will not spend more than 60 seconds reading through an application. So here are seven ways to really make those seconds count:
What other tips have you come across that may be helpful to someone preparing a resume?? List them below in the comments and add value to this article — then list that on your resume!
I’ve done it before as well. You start thinking about changing jobs so you open up a Google search and type “jobs in ____________.”
You’ve already failed.
You’re going to spend countless hours perusing random job boards and reading hundreds of job descriptions, only to get discouraged and more confused and end up right back where you started.
Searching for your next job is like going on a roadtrip. You would never research places and weather and road conditions and then set out on the journey without first looking at your car to figure out if you’ve even got the wheels to get you there.
I’d love to go to New York, but I’d never drive my ’03 Honda Civic to get there. Better to first analyze my car, it’s advantages and disadvantages, and then pick a place.
Instead of diving headlong into your search, first take some time to figure out what you’re driving — who are you and what do you do best? What are your skills, talents, values, ideal environments, financial needs, and passions? Then use this information to narrow your search.
If you don’t know who you are, you run the risk of stalling out prematurely and not making it to your destination.
Get to know you. It’s the best investment you can make.
I talk to many people in any given week who have brilliant, transformative ideas that they want to launch into the world, but who don’t know where to start.
I get it. It’s overwhelming.
Here’s the formula I’ve discovered that works for me for starting an initiative.
Note: this is not a comprehensive plan for launching a business but it will get you started. And starting is usually the hardest part.
Step 1: Take something you do — something you believe in — and tease out the system. What parts can be replicated by anyone, anywhere?
EXAMPLE: I was talking with someone last week who believes in building culture in schools. I asked how she does this and she described her method. Without realizing it, she followed a number of steps, albeit intuitively. I coached her to pull out the 3-5 steps and describe them in detail with a principle (such as “Step 1” above), an example, and next steps for someone else who wants to implement the steps.
Step 2: Identify the audience.
EXAMPLE: Who needs it? Who wants what you have? Resist the temptation to say, “everyone.” Who is the low-hanging fruit — your specific niche who needs what you have now? In her case, the target audience was anyone who has “culture-building” as part of their actual role in schools. This is likely principals, assistant principals, deans of students, and grade level chairs.
Step 3: Connect what you have to the audience.
EXAMPLE: What’s the easiest way to reach them? Email? Social media? A presentation? For her, a simple email would work. Draft the email, include the steps, and send it along! What’s the structure of the email? Here’s what I would suggest:
1. “Hello” and intro.
2. “For the past several months we’ve been building culture in my school. I wanted to share what we’ve done and the outcome, as well as a few tips that may help you in your effort.”
3. Share what you’ve done, the tips, and a few ways to execute.
4. Ask for feedback and other ideas. “I’m hoping to open up the conversation and hear what’s working for you!”
5. Thank them. If appropriate, send along a link or other method for them to provide feedback.
Step 4: Get feedback.
EXAMPLE: Ask for their thoughts. What works for them? What have they tried? What do they think about your proposed steps? Encourage them to implement the system and give feedback.
Step 5: Offer more.
EXAMPLE: Offer additional assistance in the form of a video, in-person meet-up, coaching, newsletter, emails, or some other mechanism. The more value you can add to your audience, the more they will come to you as the expert. You will build tremendous influence and credibility.
Now keep up the momentum! Starting is just that — the beginning. Most initiatives live or die by momentum, which comes from consistently adding value over a long period of time.
From True North by Bill George:
“Citing a recent visit with business school students, Dave Cox, former CEO of Cowles Media, quoted one as saying, ‘Maybe I have to get my satisfaction someplace else and I’ll just do the business part to make money.’ Amazed by the comment, Cox raised his eyebrows quizzically, ‘Why would you want to spend your time doing work you don’t enjoy? These should be the best years of your life. There is so much energy that results from feeling valued and connecting with what you’re enthusiastic about. That is when you add the greatest value.'”
If this is you, I beg you to reconsider. Start by reading chapter 6 of this book:
Better yet, read this whole book and get clear about who you are:
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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