The Resume: The First Line of Defense

It occurred to me earlier this week that we often talk about how to enhance your resume, but we assume that you actually know what a resume is for in the first place. You may have no clue. you go:

A resume is intended to do the following:
  • Market your mastered, relevant skills and past successes to a potential employer
  • Grab the attention of a Human Resources Director, Hiring Manager, Search Committee Chair or Direct Supervisor and drive them to ask you to come in for an interview
  • Summarize your past experiences (work, leadership, volunteer) that are relevant to the job you are seeking
A resume is NOT intended to do the following:
  • Narrate your entire work history and list every accolade received (Snooze!)
  • Get you a job (It should lead to the interview!)
  • Divulge your weaknesses and shortcomings (Why would you do that?!)
Your resume SHOULD be targeted and specific. A generic resume is only appropriate if you are pursuing being a "generic employee," and I haven't seen that job title posted anywhere. So, yes, that means you need to edit your resume...EVERY time.

If this is your personal marketing piece, think of it as your commercial or ad. What if an ad intended for Maxim magazine (covering sex, sports, beer, hot babes, gadgets, fitness, and other topics for men) was mistakenly placed in Prevention magazine (covering tips on weight loss, fitness, health, nutrition, recipes, anti-aging and diets)? Do you think the potential for a negative reception is there? (I was going to insert ads from both magazines, but I'm not comfortable posting those from Maxim on this blog. If you were wondering, Prevention ads target cereal and popcorn.)

Though not as extreme (hopefully), your resume should be viewed similarly. Consider your target audience. If you submit a resume that highlights your writing and web design skills, but you are applying for an outside sales job, your resume will be met with a look of disdain and then make its hasty decent into the trash.

So, check out the other tips on resume writing, here on the blog and on the CDS website. But first, conduct a mental check: Have you figured out what you are trying to do with your resume? Who is your target market? How do you want to be perceived by the reader?

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