Resume Writing: Step One
How I Discovered Backwards Resume Writing
One night I was working late on a report that had to be ready for my client by the next morning. The report was over fifty pages long and was the cumulative work of three months. After the final proof reading I was ready to print the document. I pushed the print button be that as it may the printer was not ready. After trying all the usual fixes, I opened the printer to look for a jam.
My office manager was also working late and when she saw me she asked me to step out of the way. She opened the printer, removed the toner cartridges, made an adjustment to the carriage bar and shut the lid.
“Print your report,” she stated with confidence.
So I did.
“Where did you learn to do that?” I inquired.
“Oh I’ve been working on computers in my spare time at home. That’s my hobby,” she responded.
“You have been here for three months and with all the computer repairs around here why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“You never asked,” she answered.
I couldn’t believe my ears. I immediately enlisted her to perform all of our computer repairs during off hours, and she agreed to half of the hourly rate I was paying an independent firm, in addition to her regular salary. She didn’t have any to travel anywhere, loved the extra work, and I saved money.
Sometimes the simplest forms of communication are left up to chance. The next day I decided to learn more about my other employees. That’s when I discovered that the only facts I had about my employees were the original resumes and applications we had kept on file from their time of hire. This was absurd. By far the most complex equipment or machinery I have ever dealt with is the human being. Yet all I had was a brief brochure on each one and the rest was left up to the chance and my memory, and I don’t trust either one.
After employees begin a job, most companies stop asking questions. Even if a personality test is given during the hiring process, the knowledge obtained thereafter about employees is usually limited to job performance. How many hidden talents, aspirations, and opportunities for motivation are employers out there are missing? And how many opportunities for advancement and increased pay are employees missing?
I knew we needed something more. “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone came with a manual? “ I thought.
The Human Manual
Even the simplest products now come with manuals.
- so that the consumer can get the most benefit from the product
- the customers’ expectations are closer to reality
- because the company minimizes troubleshooting and question calls
- so the company limits liability
Successful salespeople know that the one way to instill exuberant confidence in selling is to possess product knowledge.
Most job candidates send out a one or two page resume and cover letter that many have not even written themselves. With employers pressed for time the one page resume has become par for most fields. Resume writing forces job candidates to boil down all of their education, years of experience, multiple jobs, and various skills into a few paragraphs that are often not even full sentences.
The abilities to interact, motivate, supervise, problem solve, organize, analyze, deduce, and resolve; and characteristics like loyalty, honesty, integrity, dedication, persistence, and creativity; and measure of attitude or disposition, are impossible to clearly conclude from these few pages.
The average job candidate has not rehearsed their interview presentation beyond the familiarity of this paltry amount of information. They arrive at an interview and “wing it.” Their minimal confidence is often quickly shattered. No wonder most people dislike interviews and need resume help.
Resume Writing and Interviewing are Already Backwards!
The boiling down process of resume writing is exactly the opposite of what is required for product information in the typical interview. The employer sits with the resume in front of him or her and asks the candidate to expound upon these experiences and skills.
The candidate and interviewer are forced to work backwards from the resume.
Every job candidate should have a “private resume” to work from, a resume that describes their characteristics, skills, and experience in full detail. “A resume that you would like to see at Company YOU.” Your resume and cover letter are your advertisements. Your “private resume” is your “product manual.”
You must know as much as possible about what you are selling in order to most effectively determine how to meet your customer’s needs.
Successful salespeople continually rehearse their sales presentations by role-playing with cohorts. They enroll in
self-improvement courses, increase their product knowledge, and study their prospects.
How many times have you rehearsed your interview presentation? Where is your “product manual?” How can anyone assess a job position if they are not completely aware of all of their own capabilities?
I have yet to meet anyone whose true skills and abilities can be summed up in a one-page resume.
Writing Your Private Resume or Product Manual
I requested that my employees write a “product manual” about themselves (On company time.) In order to make it easier and obtain relevant information I formed the following questions. I challenge you to answer these same questions.
- What is the perfect job for you?
- What are three skills you would like to use in that perfect job?
- If you were hiring for your perfect job at Company YOU, what are five characteristics the perfect candidate would have?
- Name five ways you are qualified for your field.
- What are the top three skills you used at each job listed on your resume?
- What are the top three contributions you made to each employer on your resume?
- What are three things you learned from each position listed on your resume?
- What are the three favorite things you liked about each job on your resume?
- What do you think your last employer’s three biggest challenges were?
- Why do you think you were hired for your last job?
- What are your top five greatest work accomplishments of all time?
- What is one thing at each job you’ve had, besides money, that motivated you to go to work each day?
- What actions by a boss would motivate you?
- What marketable skills do you possess that you do not use in your work?
- Write three times you went above and beyond what was required of you on the job.
- What were your three favorite subjects in school?
- Write down five things you learned from your education that you have used in your work.
- What lesson have you learned from life that you used in your work?
The Smart Job Candidate
When is the last time you researched your career industry or the industry in which you are job hunting?
You must have an understanding of your industry or field in today’s job market. Employers want knowledgeable candidates and they are going to ask you questions.
Most of us have heard this interview question:
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Sound familiar? So what is the right answer?
You should be able to answer that question based on where you think your industry or career field will be five years from now. Instead of running out to pay a psychic for an opinion go online or to the library and research your industry news and write just one page of notes about what is happening now in your industry. If you find any predictions make notes about what others are forecasting.
Then make five to ten predictions about what you think is going to happen in your industry in the next five years based on what you found.
- What are some of the typical challenges employers face in your industry?
- Name three people that you have known that influenced you and how?
- Name three people that you have not known that influenced you and how.
- Now write at least one page about yourself and accomplishments that you would like a potential employer to know about you.
Everyone has found the process of answering these questions like writing backwards compared to resume writing. Instead of boiling down all of their education, years of experience, multiple jobs, and various skills into a few paragraphs that are often not even full sentences, these questions encourage expanded thinking.
Several people have come back to me with as many as ten pages just from the last question.
Employees and job candidates have told me that this exercise was refreshing compared to traditional resume writing. They experienced an increase in confidence at interviews armed with the knowledge and new ideas invoked by these questions. In job hunting you are the product. Get to know your product, get to know your self.
Copyright 2008-2011 Resume Dictionary
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