Your Resume Should Have Character
by Linda Matias of www.careerstrides.com
The notion that employers are
interested in only where you have been and where you are heading is pure
nonsense. Experienced hiring managers take into account both your
experience and your character. After all, in the end, they are hiring a
human being, not a robot. Still, many believe that personal attributes
just take up space and make the resume “fluffy.”
After reading countless job
descriptions that make it a point to mention personal characteristics
and speaking directly with hiring managers on this specific topic, I’ve
come to realize that it’s not the inclusion of personal attributes that
make resumes superficial. It’s how the characteristics are presented
that is the cause of concern. In this article, I will focus on the top
three characteristics employers seek (good communication skills,
honesty, and a strong work ethic) and discuss how you can seamlessly
integrate them into your resume. Now let’s get started.
Print out your resume and take a
look at it. If you find that you carelessly threw some of the
characteristics mentioned above in your resume without making supporting
statements to back them up, then the reader will question the sincerity
of your claims.
Here’s an example of a
superficial sentence: “Possess a strong work ethic and recognized for
the ability to deliver results.” Although the sentence covers attributes
employers seek, the sentence needs to be spiced up.
For example, a more compelling
sentence is: “Demonstrated record of consistent performance and ability
to establish strong presence within global markets (e.g. China, Italy,
Sweden), generating 6- and 7-figure revenue gains.”
Notice the difference? In the
original sentence, the declaration didn’t carry much weight. Simply
stating you have certain characteristics doesn’t make it so. The reader
will be scratching his or her head and thinking, “Oh yeah? Prove it.”
The revised sentence takes a
different approach. Instead of stating personal characteristics
outright, the sentence demonstrates results; therefore the reader can
deduce that the candidate has all the right characteristics. This will
leave the reader thinking, “Interesting stuff. I’ll put this candidate
in the must-call pile.”
Presentation is Everything
The way the resume is
structured, organized, and written also alludes to your personal
characteristics. Using actual client stories and the top three
characteristics employers seek, I’ll discuss common mistakes jobseekers
make in the presentation of their resumes.
Poor Communication Skills Are a Real Killer:
Bryan was extremely qualified for all the positions he applied for, but
he was receiving no bites. After careful review of his resume, I noticed
that although he claimed to be an excellent communicator, he failed to
communicate his value. It was obvious the resume was homespun and lacked
the finesse needed to garner the attention of hiring managers. He was
under the impression that once he received an interview, he would be
able to communicate exactly why he was qualified for the position.
Unfortunately, he never received that chance.
Lesson learned: Simply writing
“strong communication skills” isn’t going to be enough to convince a
decision maker that you can successfully interact with others. A hiring
manager is going to look to your resume as verification of your claims;
and if you aren’t able to effectively put two sentences together, they
are going to question not only your communication skills but also your
ability to do the job.
Question of Integrity: During a
client-intake session with Amanda, a recent college graduate, she told
me her current job title was “Director of External Public Relations.” I
couldn’t help but think that was an impressive title for a 22-year-old.
After prodding a little, I discovered the real story. It just so happens
that this particular client worked for her aunt in a two-person office
and there were occasions when she wrote press releases and spoke to
reporters regarding the latest company happenings.
Though she did participate in public relation activities, the title of
Director of External Public Relations was a bit of a stretch. An
employer would have had the same reaction I did. He or she would have
doubted her claims and as a result, wouldn’t have bothered calling her
in for an interview.
Lesson Learned: Your resume has to
be believable. If an employer has any inkling you are being deceitful,
your resume will go in the trash. And even if you are able to get
through the resume review and interview process with half-truths, be
warned: once hired, you will be expected to deliver.
When a Strong Work Ethic
Doesn’t Work: Even though he had five different jobs within three
years, Patrick insisted on including that he had a strong work ethic in
his resume. He claimed that his job-hopper image was unjust since he
left each job because it wasn’t the right job for him. He insisted that
when he found the right job, he would definitely be committed.
After careful review of his
personal characteristics, we agreed that there were other personal
characteristics he could use that would make him just as employable as
the phrase “strong work ethic;” phrases that wouldn’t leave the reader
with the feeling that he was trying to pull one over on them.
In a resume, leverage what you have to offer
and don’t try to sell yourself as something you are not. Your resume
should answer questions for hiring managers, not leave lingering doubts.
characteristics in your resume will make the resume reader-friendly and
allow the reader to visualize you in the position.
Certified in all three areas of the job search—Certified Interview
Coach ™ (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally
Certified Resume Writer (NCRW)—Linda Matias is qualified to assist you
in your career transition, whether it be a complete career makeover,
interview preparation, or resume assistance. She is also the author of
"How to Say It: Job Interviews" (Prentice Hall, August 2007). You can
contact Linda Matias at linda @ careerstrides.com or visit her Website
www.careerstrides.com for additional career advice and to view
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