This month, I wanted to tackle a subject I get asked about constantly, and that is the subject of resumes.
Normally the question comes in two forms:
1) What’s the best resume format?
2) Is my resume any good?
I make the distinction because while they concern the same subject, they are in fact different questions with very different answers.
Let’s start with question one, “what is the best resume format”?
For years, the choices were either functional or chronological. Functional resumes attempt to showcase all of our skills, and the chronological ones attempt to show a career arc, from our early days, to where we are now. I say “attempt” because chances are those formats didn’t do a very good job of doing what we want a resume to do, and those are:
1) Presenting our skill set as pertinent to the positions we were applying to
2) Showing a trajectory that illustrates a timeline which qualifies us for what we want to do next.
At the Five O’Clock Club, we say that the resume first needs to be a marketing document. It markets the product called YOU, to pertinent places that can buy (hire) YOU.
The format needs to be a blend of functional and chronological, but strategically written so that a hiring manager can identify what you do and where you fit, in about 5 seconds.
The resume needs to identify you as someone who fits into the environment you are applying to. Insiders get hired, and outsiders don’t. You need to show direct skills and experience they need, and also the transferable skills and experience that you bring from other places.
Let’s talk about length, before I go too much further. It can be as long as it needs to be to tell the story you want to tell. What is too long in one case, is not enough for another.
Your resume also needs to be easy to read and understand. As one who has recruited translational oncology and bioinformatics professionals, I can assure you that the first person who reads you resume will not be a scientist. Front line recruiters and screeners are trained to look for keywords and job titles, so be descriptive and write in simpler terms when writing about what you do and for whom. Use a lot of white space so you don’t make the readers eyes glaze over.
So, the next question – “is my resume any good?” That one is tough to answer because it depends. Do you know where you want to go next? Only then can your resume be evaluated and qualified. Once you know where you want to go, the resume needs to be written as supporting evidence.
Sit down and ask yourself, “Does this thing position me as an insider”? In other words, will someone in that organization look at it, and see me as a fit, or am I asking them to have a blind faith I can do the job?
If you can answer in the affirmative, then go ahead and start sending it out. The feedback you get (or lack thereof) will give you your answer.
Side note: writing isn’t everyone’s strong suit, so get help if you need it. Talk to you coach or mentor. If you don’t have one and want one, call us and explore your options.
The resume is a written expression of yourself, and sets the tone for your job search. Spend time on it, and spend time customizing it for each opportunity. It will be time well spent.
Until next time, I wish you all the best.
Thomas Patrick Chuna is a certified Five O’clock Club job search coach, teaching their proven methodology to private clients in all fields and disciplines. – I will teach you to apply the methodology to YOUR specific situation. Find me at linkedin.com/in/patrickinternational
Want FREE access to helpful job search tools? – Check out the Five O’clock Club ad on the Bio Careers “Career Tools” page. The Five O’clock Club is a nationally recognized outplacement firm with a proven job search methodology that helps job seekers get better jobs faster.
Learn more: http://www.fiveoclockclub.com