Your resume should be word-processed and printed on high-quality paper using a crisp laser or inkjet printer.
Of course, you’ll be transmitting many—if not most—of your resumes electronically, by e-mail or online application.
In chapter 3 you’ll find a complete discussion of how to adapt your resume for these purposes.
But for now I’ll talk about the traditional printed document that—despite the pervasive influence of the Internet and e-mail—remains an essential tool in your job search.
The appearance of your resume must be first-class.
Careless or unprofessional word processing and formatting will be strike one against your candidacy.
Remember, though, you’re a sales professional, not a page designer.
Compare your resume against the examples in this book, and don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.
You can work with a professional resume writer, who can help you craft not only the appearance but the message and the overall strategy and structure of your resume.
Another option is to engage a page designer, desktop publisher, virtual assistant, or secretarial service to dress up your draft into a sharp-looking presentation.
Whatever method you choose, you want to end up with a great-looking resume available to you in a Microsoft Word (.doc) file that you can print and e-mail.
Gather Your Resource Materials Before beginning your resume, spend a little time organizing your work space and gathering the appropriate resource materials.
Create “job search central,” a spot where you can keep all your job search materials well-organized and at hand.
Throughout your search you’ll generate copious notes, copies of correspondence, job postings, news articles, and other related materials.
You need a filing and organizing system that allows you to put your hands on the appropriate document at a moment’s notice.
For instance, when you receive a phone call in response to a letter you’ve sent, you’ll sound professional and competent if you can immediately access the correspondence and speak intelligently to the circumstances of the position.
You should gather several resource materials before you start writing your resume.
First, find copies of old versions of your resume.
You might be surprised at the details included there that are relevant to your current search but that you might have forgotten over the passage of time.
These older resumes will also help you recall details such as specific dates of employment, education, seminars attended, and so forth.
Next, try to obtain copies of recent performance evaluations.
These can be an excellent source for your specific achievements, particularly those that were noted by upper management and recognized as valuable to the organization.
Chapter 15 discusses creating a career portfolio to aid in future job searches.
If you’ve been proactive in developing a file of materials that document your achievements, now’s the time to pull it out and put its contents to work.
Complimentary letters from supervisors, clients, coworkers, or other professional contacts are other good resources to gather and peruse before beginning to write your resume.
Allow Enough Time to Write Your Resume You may be able to create your resume in a day or an afternoon, or you might devote several days to this task.
It’s important that you allow enough time for the process, beginning with serious introspection into your career goals; then writing, editing, and formatting; and finally sharing your draft with a few trusted people before you launch your search.
(Details about all the steps in this process are covered in chapters 2 and 3.) Don’t shortchange yourself by rushing through the resume-preparation task just to get something out there.
Take the time to do it thoroughly, and you’ll have a valuable document that will make every subsequent stage of your job search more positive and productive.
As a measure of comparison, it takes me an average of three to four hours to create a resume for a midlevel professional with 15 to 20 years of experience.
For a senior executive, I spend an additional one to three hours.
What’s included in this time? Typically, I spend an hour consulting with my client; two to four hours planning, positioning, writing, editing, and formatting the resume; and an hour reviewing the document with my client and finalizing the print and electronic versions.
As an experienced resume writer, I know the questions to ask, the types of accomplishments that will be meaningful, effective positioning strategies, and other information you might have to give more thought.
I’m also a whiz at word processing and can zip through complex resume formatting that may cause you headaches and aggravation.
Quite simply, to produce a high-quality resume, it’s not possible to speed through the process on autopilot.
Consider the time spent as an investment in your future.
I’m certain it will pay off in a more effective job search.
Create a Career Target Statement Remember the first absolute of resume writing: Be clear and focused.
Before you plunge into writing your resume, take the time to develop a specific career target statement.
Preparing this kind of statement helps you clarify the job elements that are most important to you and provides a central emphasis for your resume development and job search.
Write it on a clean sheet of paper or in a separate word-processing document.
Here are two examples of career target statements: I’m looking for a business-to-business sales position that involves a lot of consultative sales and gives me the opportunity to build relationships with my customers.
I don’t want a quick in-and-out sales job where I’m only worried about making quota this week.
Ideally I’d like to sell to small, emerging companies so that I can grow with them.
For stability, I’d also like to have a few solid Fortune 500–type accounts, and I prefer to have a defined geographic territory that involves limited overnight travel.
Starting the job with an established account base would be nice, but I’m willing to prospect, provided that some leads are generated through the company’s telemarketing and trade-show activities.
I can sell both products and services and would prefer a fairly large product/service line so that I’m not limited to one solution for customer problems—I can look at their entire situation and recommend a variety of solutions to fit their needs and budget.
I can work well independently, but ideally I’d like a manager who is a mentor and who helps me continuously improve my professional skills.
A commission structure that rewards me for overachieving my established goals would be a great incentive.
I’m highly motivated to earn a six-figure income, so I don’t want my commissions to be capped.
I’m ready for a change.
I’ve loved working for Key Products and have gained great experience in product management and marketing.
But I’d like to work for a company that is smaller, nimbler, and growing more aggressively so that I can do more than recommend marketing strategies—I can put them into action and see the results.
I’m creative and intuitive, and I want to be involved in every stage of marketing, from strategy development to implementation and assessment.
Because I have both a traditional marketing background and experience in e-commerce initiatives, I’d be attractive to a technology company or any company that wants to beef up its website presence and sales performance.
I’ve been well-groomed, and I’m ready to move up to a marketing leadership position.
Ideally, I’d like to return to Boston or at least New England to be closer to my family and college friends.
Notice that these statements are not narrowly focused.
They cover a variety of job circumstances and create a clear picture of the environment that is ideal for each of these candidates at this point in their careers.
As you prepare your own career target statement, give serious thought to what is most important to you in your next job to satisfy both personal and professional desires.
The preferences you develop will be uniquely yours and will help you make good decisions about job offers you’ll receive.
For instance, if you and your spouse agree that it’s a priority to remain close to extended family members in Cleveland, you should not accept a job offer in San Antonio, no matter how attractive it is.
But it’s unlikely that you’ll find a job that matches every preference to a “t.” You’ll have to weigh all the factors to see which opportunity, in balance, best suits your needs.
An acceptable compromise for you might be a position in Toledo or Detroit that will keep grandparents within reasonable driving distance.
Some or all of the following factors may be important to consider as you develop your picture of an ideal next position:
◆ Geographic location
◆ Distance from the airport
◆ Proximity to family
◆ Salary, commissions, bonuses, stock options
◆ Benefits: health insurance, retirement plans, perks
◆ Opportunity for advancement
◆ Corporate environment (buttoned-down or freewheeling)
◆ Company growth plans
◆ Corporate attitude toward change and innovation
◆ Senior management style
◆ Perceived compatibility with your management style
◆ Autonomy/schedule flexibility
◆ Sales support
◆ Performance expectations
◆ Opportunity to influence company plans, marketing initiatives, sales direction,
and so on
◆ Company products or services
◆ Company size, reputation, industry
◆ Opportunity for new challenges and learning
◆ Familiar environment offering chance for immediate contribution
◆ Corporate policy on family leave, family activities, and priorities
◆ Work demands (35 hours a week or 75?)
◆ Travel demands (how far and how often?)
◆ Advancement from your present position
◆ Education and training opportunities
◆ Responsibility to manage people (how many? too many?)
◆ Compensation tied to performance; incentives