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Résumé Like a Pro

old resume designed with icons

Résumés could be a blog all their own. I’m a résumé master. Once I learned how to spell it, I was well on my way to crafting the best damned one anyone had ever seen, over and over again. And then again.

I have a folder in a cloud (which cloud service is available for sponsorship.) called RESUME.  That folder has several sub folders to organize the growing archive which allows me to cherry pick from and reference my past versions. There’s a folder for my current city with subfolders by year and month, one for references, another for credits, then there’s my portfolio, an archive of past resumes and a folder brimming full of cover letters. I’ve written a lot of resumes. 2016 saw a reversion back to a more traditional style from a graphic version in August, an update in September to address a specific shortcoming, and another update in December. 2017 saw an update in July, an expanded version in August and a massive overhaul in October with 4 job-specific versions. These versions are getting attention. The last version that got this attention much was this graphic version.

old resume designed with icons
Fun, fancy pants, custom, graphic resume

I enjoyed making this one, and people seemed to like it. It got me calls and many compliments but ultimately I had to retire it because the format didn’t provide me enough space to fully sell myself. I did consider an 8 point font and magnifying glass, but it just didn’t look right.

“Pau, maybe you should re-write your resume. Maybe you’re not totally getting yourself out there because you’re so smart, and talented. You have so much experience, I don’t understand why you aren’t getting hired. I’d hire you. You know more than…”

Trust me, when you’ve been searching for a job as long as I have, it’s painful even for your friends. It’s hard on those around you and those that care about you. You’re frustrated. They’re frustrated. Suspicions and doubt arise. It’s maddening, just maddening I tell you!

I’m happy to say I currently have 4 versions of my latest iteration and it seems to be working pretty well. They are targeted, beefy and vegetarians be damned, maybe a little intimidating. I come off as the professional my friends think I am. It’s going on 5 months now and I’ve had interest that has even taken me into a couple rounds of interviews with some of the folks. I mentioned back in my first post that I was waiting for a callback after a 3rd rounder with a big company, well I didn’t get it. Yay! #GOMP I did ask for feedback and apparently they were concerned I was so handsome I would be a distraction to the other employees. I guess they have a point.

There are a number of things you can do to improve your resume. Why should you take resume advice from someone who can’t get a job? You really need to improve your reading comprehension. Scroll up. It’s up there. I’m a résumé freaking master (self-proclaimed (awaiting independent verification)). I’ve written and tested many versions, asked for and received (that last part is a biggie) feedback, advice and applied it. Then why Pau, on God’s green island are you still without a job? Good question and we’ll talk interviews later.

1. Read resumes

Read resume’s. See what people have. See what they do. Ask your friends, co-workers, former co-works etc to see theirs. I might even suggest going so far as to post an ad on Craigslist for the type of job you’re looking for and see what comes back. I might suggest that. I’ll let you know if I do.

2. Choose the right format

There are lots of fancy pants resume design services available. They might not be best for you, for your field, or for your work history. My fancy pants one was great. I felt it really did a good job of conveying my personality. It didn’t however, do a very good job of conveying my history, experience and skills.

3. Lose the headshot

I’ve seen head-shots on a number of resumes but your resume is not the place for you precious mug. Let them discriminate against you in the interview. The only time you need a headshot for a job application is if you’re an actor or model in which case this is the wrong type of resume.

4. Reverse engineer your resume

Search for jobs. Find several you want and copy the posting. Read them. Study them. Deconstruct them. Break out the skills and requirements and even nice-to-haves into one list. Which do you have? Cross out the ones you don’t. Look at the way they word things. Steal that. Use it. Reword it. But build your resume directly from that so it speaks directly to those job postings.

Last January I applied for a job. I was rejected. I was told my skills weren’t a match. I currently do the job for which I was applying. What’s worse, I was asked to apply for the position.

Despite my years of experience doing what I do, I wasn’t getting responses. After I reverse engineered my resume targeting a specific position in a specific industry I started getting responses. However, that very same resume when sent to other positions went unanswered, despite the best cover letter in the world. Once I did the same reverse engineering treatment for that position, I started getting responses. I don’t have the experience, but I have the skills for it and I got some interest.

5. Create statistics

I’m not in a field that keeps silly metrics with which business or sales people clutter their resumes. Yet the feedback I was getting was telling me I needed numbers, hard facts, bite-sized, tangible, nuggets of success. It took me some time to think of how I could quantify my success in those terms, but I did. I counted the number of projects I have worked on over the years, totaled all the budgets, companies I freelanced for etc and was able to pull out crunchy stats for the top of my resume that employers really like so much. They see those tasty appetizers and bite one. Then another. Pretty soon they’re all gone but now their mouth is watering and they want more, so they read on. And mind you, my face is not on my resume distracting them from the intellectual content of my resume so they gobble up the whole thing. Now they’re gorged and a little tipsy from the Mai Tai’s in my resume so they drunkenly call me up for an interview. Done and done.

6. Get feedback

Send it to your friends. Ask them to have their friends or bosses look at it. This will help get you past the generic and unhelpful, safely non-offensive “it’s nice” feedback your friends might cautiously give. It’s also a sneaky way to get exposure. More jobs come from pre-existing connections than cold applications. In my experience, when I’ve asked friends to look at my resume, they don’t know what to do with it, usually because they are in a different field. They’d like to keep an eye out, but they see me as 1 thing and can’t see how my skills apply to other positions or understand that I’m trying to change fields/jobs. But depending how your resume is laid out, your friend’s boss or friend might see skills that they need.

One common piece of feedback I got was “what is this for?” or “what do they do?”. It wasn’t clear from my experience what I was going for (which was tightly defined as “anything, god please just give me a damn job”). So I threw job titles on the top of my resumes and made different versions. They all have roughly the same info, but arranged differently. For jobs which I don’t have much experience, I put my skills at top which speaks best and most directly to that position. For jobs within my field, I list my relevant experience up top.

7. Build a team

Your friends want you to get a job. They want to hang out with you, not listen to you whine about not being able to afford it. They’re on your side. You’ve asked them for feedback. (Get that feedback if you haven’t.) Talk to them about what you’re after. Ask them what skills they see in you and what roles they could see you in. Create a coalition. Create a team. This will help motivate and energize you, and then you have a whole team working to help you find a job. Team Pau has given me crucial feedback, encouragement and support. They’ve given me job leads and introductions to friends (n e t w o r k i n g – and even expanding team Pau). It’s all very needed. Trust me. Being unable to get a job makes you lose your sense of self-worth, cripples confidence and so forth. So a big, big thanks to all of Team Pau.

Thank you team Pau!

Résumé. Mastered. Take my advice. It’s free after all. You get what you pay for so keep that in mind, but take it and test drive it. Bounce it off people. My logic is impeccable though emotions are the more powerful tool for persuasion. Discuss my ideas with your friends, if you still have ’em, random strangers, mailmen and telemarketers if you don’t. Then you can send me money if I’m right.

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