The Power of Resume Content

On Monday we talked about “resume presentation,” where I shared thoughts on how important the actual presnetation on paper is (amount of white space, use of bullets, etc.).  Today we talk about the actual substance.

I’ve met job seekers who want to be  ________ or an ________.  After talking with them for a little bit I realize they just don’t have what it would take to be what they want to be.  Since I’ve been in hiring positions I’ve always been observant to find someone who would be the right addition to my team.  I think it’s important that when you present yourself, even in information gatherings, you always think that the other person might be interested in bring you into their team.

Stay positive, don’t talk bad about other people or projects (even if you are just trying to be “honest”), don’t slouch, give good answers, be interested and interesting, etc.  More on this stuff later.

Let’s get back to the content.  Who are you, and do you have the qualifications to do the job I need done?

I’m always interested in someone who is “high speed, low drag.”  That is, someone who is low maintenance, and high performing.

I want someone who is creative.  I’ve never thought of myself as creative (although people tell me I am… I just compare myself with creative artists, which is not good because I’m not artistic).  If you come to my team, though, I need you to be creative.  Creative people should be lower maintenance than non-creatives (who will probably have to ask how to do things, instead of trying to figure it out on their own).

I also want someone who is curious.  How does this work?  Why do we do things that way?  What if we tried it another way?  Who, what, why, where, how… don’t get me wrong, I don’t want someone who is going to ask me this all the time, but I do want someone who is going to wonder this, and try and figure out the answers.  I once worked with an engineer who was the king of creativity. I would tell people “give him a bucket of sand and a blow torch and he’s build a silicon chip.”  Probably technically impossible, but the idea was that his curiosity ate him up until he figured out solutions.

I want someone to figure out solutions.

This is what I’m looking for in my ideal candidate.  How does this apply to your resume?  Your resume must:

  1. (obviously) have all of the factual stuff that traditionally goes on a resume.  Schools graduated from, dates, employment history, job roles, duties, etc.
  2. the message that you are the right person for me.

The first is what most people focus on, and what we all think resumes are.  If your resume reads like an “obituary” it’s not going to stand out… it’s going to be just like most of others.  You focused on the wrong thing.

Focus on “the message.”  Why are you the right person for me.  This is where networking comes in, as you could network into my team and ask them what my hot buttons are.  There shouldn’t be any grammar and spelling mistakes, as I’m a stickler for that on a resume.  And of course put in evidence of curiosity and creativity.  That’s just me, maybe the hiring manager you are applying to has different hotspots.

Find out what they are and incorporate those into your marketing material (I mean, your resume).

So this post on substance and resume content took a different twist than what I thought it would take… I originally planned on writing something like “here are the 15 content components of what goes in a resume.”  I didn’t write about that because there’s already a ton of information about that elsewhere… and really, I think it’s more important to talk about your resume as a messaging tool, a marketing tool, rather than just a list of acheivements or employment history facts.

Does your resume properly show your substance as the right person for my team?

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