If you’re in California, you likely have a few more weeks of Safer at Home living. Regardless of how much quarantine time you have left, we want our tribe to also be Sane at Home, so that you can emerge from phase 1 of this pandemic with confidence and optimism.
We get it. The current situation has left us all a little Corona cranky and frazzled at times. Until we can roam free, we’ll be offering up suggestions for using a fraction of your valuable quarantine time to your best advantage. A little bit of investment here can go a long way in decreasing your stress level and increasing your feeling of being in control.
First up … your resume.
Whether you plan on pursuing another professional opportunity or not, having a current and powerful resume is always smart. So often, resumes “sit” like that easily neglected, dry, withering houseplant in the corner that doesn’t get much attention until it’s almost dead. And then, when someone realizes it’s starving, just a little bit of water and TLC miraculously brings it back to life. Same with resumes. They just need a little feeding now and then to stay alive.
Has it been a while since you “fed” the document that is most critical to your professional life? No problem. Whether it just needs a simple watering or a complete replanting, now is a perfect time to reflect on all your amazing accomplishments and get them integrated into your resume.
Why don’t most of us invest in maintaining this precious asset? “Because it takes so much time!” and “It’s so hard” are two common responses. But much like being ordered to stay home … it’s really not that difficult and doesn’t demand much time in the grand scheme of things. Plus, the return on investment is incredible! And, if you haven’t updated in a while, you’ll be amazed at just how much you have accomplished.
In a nutshell, don’t social distance yourself from your resume. Instead of six feet, make it a practice to revisit it every six months. Investing a just few minutes twice a year will ensure that it is fresh, vibrant and alive any time you need it.
Need some guidance? Based on our experience reviewing thousands of resumes, here is some insight into what makes for a powerful resume as you rise into the senior and executive ranks of local government.
How far back should I go?
- While some resume experts advise to only include the last 10 years of employment, we believe resumes tell a story and our clients are interested in your entire Take up more real estate with your more recent and meatier jobs and less with older or less relevant positions.
We’re guessing you’ve had a pretty interesting life and we’re interested in learning about your story when it comes to being considered for high-level positions.
How long should it be?
- Generally speaking, allowing a page per decade of experience is a good guideline.
- Got gaps in your history? Be truthful and include any work you did (interim, freelance, temp, volunteer) during that time.
What information about my work history should I include?
- For each position, list job title, name of the organization or company, and dates you held that position.
- Under each position, describe your scope of authority/responsibility including # of staff and budget info. Equally as important, bullet your major accomplishments and contributions for your most recent jobs.
- Include association memberships and leadership positions, and other professional and personal passions if they are professionally relevant.
- The URL to your LinkedIn profile is helpful because the hiring entity will look. Always. So, make sure your profile is current and matches your resume.
What about tone and customization?
- When tidying up your resume for a specific position, take a few minutes to align the language with the job you are applying for. You may even have more than one resume, depending on the target position or profession and the skills you want to highlight.
- Use an active voice and active verbs (managed, built, created, developed, introduced, launched, etc.). Stumped for an appropriate verb? Google “active resume verbs” for hundreds of ideas.
- Use objective adjectives and use them sparingly. For example, it could be your opinion that your program was “extremely successful,” but it is objective to say that your program was the “first of its kind at XYZ Agency.”
- Identify the key job qualifications and skills and be certain to use those same terms. If you use “oversaw” and the targeted position uses “managed,” the initial screening may not identify you as a match.
What is the best presentation?
- Simple, clear, crisp and error free.
- Always proofread. Ask at least two other people to proofread, as well. Never rely on spell check, auto correct or your recruiter to catch typos.
- Use headings, bullets and indentations for readability.
- Recommended fonts: A Sans serif type, such as Arial or Helvetica, and 11 or 12 point type for body copy. For headings, go one size larger and use bold.
- Use boxes or lines to call attention to your special skills and experience. Don’t use color to highlight, in case your resume is copied in black and white.
- Submit your resume as a .pdf file, so it is appropriate for both electronic submission and hard copy.
As a professional in your industry your network might run deep and wide. However, an effective resume is still critical to your success.