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Your Resume is Not About You

Many times, people come to see me to have their resume reviewed.  When this happens, the first question that I ask them is “Who’s the audience for this resume?”  Many times, this question is answered with blank stares.  In most of these cases, we end up talking about so many other things that we don’t even talk about the resume.

This gets to my premise about resumes:

Your resume is not about you.  It’s about the person reading it and what they need to know about you.

The resume is an advertisement about you and your qualifications, and like any advertisement, you don’t tell everything about yourself, because the reader won’t care and it will be just a waste of time.  You need to know what that person cares about (i.e. the skills, knowledge, and experiences needed for the position you’re looking for) and present those in a clear, persuasive manner.  Otherwise it would be a short story (or longer for some of us) and for that you’d probably use a CV (otherwise known as a curriculum vitae, which is Latin for story of your life).  As the resume’s job is to speak for you when you’re not there, you need to make sure it tells your story well enough that someone wants to talk with you to find out more about you, which usually means calling you in for an interview.

So, if you’re got more than one target market, you can have more than one resume.  Granted, I don’t think you need to have a different resume for every job, but maybe a different resume for each type of job. For example: if you are looking for a advertising account executive position, most agencies are looking for the same type of background, so you probably don’t need a different one for each.  But, if you are also looking for work doing public relations at a non-profit, you might want to highlight different experiences that you have.

It goes without saying that you should do your research on your different targets.

So, where do you want to be?  That’s the first question.

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