learn from mistakes I have made in my resume and job search
Posted by contentgrrl on October 30, 2007
As I was decluttering my desk, I found some of my old resumes and job letters from years ago. A few things actually made me cringe with ew.
Now, it’s not as bad as when I find an old diary from my melodramatic pre-teen days. It was relatively OK for back in the day when you had to go to a printer like Kinko’s to have a stash of resumes printed up to hand out. But I immediately noticed some things that I’ve learned not to do anymore:
- The “objective” section was so broad it could apply to ten different jobs. Now, I’ve learned to tailor it per job, ideally the intended, individual opening.
- The skillset and toolset was too long. Again, I’ve learned to tailor it to the requirements of the intended job.
- The history descriptions are too long. Even while I use great verbs, I did not always identify the real accomplishments. Numbers are more impressive.
- The cover letter started off self-centered, rather than what’s in it for them. “I was intrigued by your job posting.” So what?
Basically, I was trying to do too much with one tool. OK, so I’ve worked in journalism, software, training, and a weird but happy combination of Web publishing and PR. But I may have come off as too generalist, and certainly over-qualified for most jobs. And I’ve learned more about selling a product since then. I am my own product (Marketing Profs Daily Fix has a great article on this too, Mind Your OWN Business).
With Monster, LinkedIn, and other Web sites to keep the details out there, I can trim it down to a spiffy one-page resume and a short-and-sweet cover letter.
And there are some things that I was glad I had taken the time to do:
- Response thank-you letter, customizable to highlight specific points of the positive response (or even rejection).
- Interview thank-you letter, customizable to highlight specific points discussed during the interview.
- References page (several names, contact information, and a description of our relationships).
- Chart of experience with various tools and skills (now thankfully available on Monster).
I continue to do resumes for friends and colleagues who like my format. I found a site that has a database of hourly rates for various consulting gigs (hotgigs.com). The average for writing resumes is — surprise! — the same average for every other kind of writing in their database, so the key is scoping the project:
- 30 min: analyze current resume
- 60 min: meeting to discuss new job history/training, objectives, measurable achievements, possible edits
- 60 min: writing and formatting of 1-2 page resume
- 60 min: writing cover letter and thank-you notes
- 30 min: meeting to discuss edits, completing revision, proofing
PS: After initially posting this, I also found Ten Tips for Writing a Resume That Will Get The Right Kind of Attention from The Simple Dollar, posted today.