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Is Your Résumé a living, breathing document?

No? …then you may be joining the long-term unemployed.

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Networking is good, except for the fact that,

Like it or not, résumés are still key to getting a job. They are the key to the door to employment. This is true even if you have a great referral. You don’t believe me?

Management Solutions True Story: A jobseeker said to me, “The president of _________ asked me for my résumé. I gave it to him and he sent it on to Human Resources. I never heard a thing.”

…so even if you have a great referral, if your résumé isn’t in shape, it can prevent even the most promising opportunity. The résumé is still key. (I wish I could have seen that résumé!)

* * *

Jobsearch is perpetually changing.

The global economy and technology are driving change so quickly, that the needs of companies are rapidly accelerating to try to keep up.

To prove my point, I checked out plumbing companies here in Connecticut. Every one of them had accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn!

Next I did an Internet search on medical research labs…and again, I found links to their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Each company gave me the opportunity to share their pages on the common social media platforms. (I was relieved to see that the plumbing company didn’t have a blog.)

Jobsearch has quickly moved online and social.

My point is that just a few years ago, a plumber looking for work would likely show up at local plumbing companies and fill out an application for a job. Last week there were 47 jobs for plumbers in Connecticut and all of them required the candidate to apply online.

A few years ago, if someone needed a plumber, they would likely go to the Yellow Pages. Today, we go to the Internet. We check how many “Likes” a company has on Facebook. We may check their rating with the Better Business Bureau and read any complaints that haven’t been resolved.

And if a jobseeker gets an interview to work for a company, (yes, including plumbing companies), s/he will check their website, their LinkedIn page, the Better Business Bureau, YouTube and also find employee feedback on www.glassdoor.com.

Critical point: To succeed, companies must be resilient and flexible if they are going to survive in the global, technology-driven universe. Jobseekers need those qualities as well if they want to work for a successful company.

New employment models are here now.

As we move to a labor-on-demand employment model, career management is a constant activity if a person is to have a consistent income. The jobsearch will be interrupted by seasons of employment. (Yes, you read that correctly!) This has already become the norm for many jobseekers.

Green Process Arrow Today, many jobseekers find themselves in a circular pattern where employment turns to jobsearch turns to employment, and again to jobsearch. Onlookers and even the jobseeker may wonder what they are doing wrong to cause this cycle. They may wonder, “Will this ever end?” Unfortunately, the likely answer is, “No.”

The new employment model now mandates that career management, a.k.a. “jobsearch” is now continuous.

Intermittent employment. “What am I doing wrong?”
This phenomenon, where a new repetitive cycle creates a sense that there is wrongdoing, or error, isn’t new. A similar trend happened at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008—when layoffs were just beginning.

It was a stigma to be laid off. Everyone assumed that companies were getting rid of their least productive employees—“the dead wood.” These early casualties of the Great Recession carried the humiliation that they had done something terribly wrong and had been fired.

As the severity and scope of the Great Recession became evident, being laid off became commonplace and bit-by-bit the stigma was lifted at the realization that the real culprits were a plethora of poor business decisions and a lack of proactive and effective change management. (Yes, we could go on and on about this now. But back then…well, sometimes hindsight is 20/20.)

The impact to the jobseeker:
In seven short years, the entire business model has changed. The new model promotes collaboration, creativity, flexibility and resilience. Change has become constant.

Consequently, résumés must be a living, breathing documents that adapt with the needs of potential employers as well as industries that are in a state of continual transformation.

The résumé problem:

Once a jobseeker has polished his or her résumé, and has shown it to several people and made additional changes, they begin to get positive feedback. And as positive feedback begins to flow, jobseekers think they are done. With confidence (cautious or otherwise) they distribute their résumé to numerous networking connections and apply for employment opportunities.

If a recruiter asks for an “updated” résumé, jobseekers are sometimes slightly miffed. They have their polished résumé…it’s ready to go. And when a recruiter or HR professional asks them to customize it for a particular position, jobseekers are often mystified as to what to do.

The résumé challenge:

Whether we like it or not, technology has given us communication in real time. Through social media, email, and the like, changes to language are happening at a faster pace than every before.

Therefore résumés should be a living, breathing document and should be easily customizable for a particular job.

There are only three basic problems found on résumés.

  1. Something needs to go on
  2. Something needs to come off
  3. Something needs to be fixed
Transformation_FlyingOrigamiCube_s

How to create a living, breathing résumé:

It comes down to three steps:
  1. Use of language—i.e. keywords and descriptive vocabulary
  2. Prioritization of lists and bullets, especially of former job responsibilities
  3. Leaving out what doesn’t add value

How to manage the use of language on your résumé

It is critical to understand that the language in job postings is constantly changing. When jobseekers use words such as, “Strong communication skills—verbal and written” in their bullet points…sorry. That’s old school and they have dated themselves—even if those exact words are used on the posting! (I know, I know. This isn’t fair.)

According to a study by Harvard University and Google, the English language has been expanding by 8,500 words per year or 23 new words per day or 690 new words per month.

These changes impact the language that is found on job postings, websites…everything. Three months can make a significant difference in the verbiage a jobseeker chooses as he or she applies for a position.

The language used in job postings change, even when the position requirements and job description are essentially the same. An example would include job postings for supervisors or front-line managers. Their responsibilities will be fairly consistent, however, their method of managing people may be different, especially with the use of virtual employees, etc.

CRITICAL POINT – language is changing. Keep yours current.


Customize your résumés to align with your career tracks:

Back in 2001, after my first lay-off experience, I decided there were three tracks that I could pursue. Based on the current market, they were: Corporate Trainer, Project Manager and Operations Manager (or Director). Even back then, a different résumé was needed as the foundation for each track.

How to customize your experience details:

Each résumé had the usual bullet points that outlined my responsibilities for each position that I had previously held. However, I made the following, sometimes subtle, changes:
  1. Reprioritize the experience details.
    The details for each former position were reprioritized. I put the bullets at the top that aligned with the track I was pursuing. So for the corporate training résumé, the first bullets were the ones that addressed the needs of corporate training communities.
  2. Update the language.
    I selected five current job postings that matched my former positions. It didn’t matter where the jobs were located—I just wanted their language. Then I used the current language to describe my former position responsibilities.
  3. Leave off anything that doesn’t add value.
    This is especially important. Most jobseekers believe that “more is better”. They strive to remember every possible detail to demonstrate how much responsibility they managed. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Adding every detail from former positions only dilutes the readers’ experience.

    More information makes it harder to find the points that substantiate the candidate’s credibility for the job in question— and it takes more time to read which hiring professionals DO NOT have to give. If the résumé reader has no idea who the jobseeker is after only one minute of reading—in the interest of time—they have to move on.

    If you bypass this last step, then it’s off to the black hole!


    Basic rule: If the reader has to stop and think about it, in order to get the connection—that point should either be re-written or left out.

Key points for a living, breathing résumé:

  1. Stay current in your industry
  2. Keep your vocabulary current
  3. Customize experience details for each career track
  4. Customize your résumé for each position
  5. Learn, be flexible, be resilient—repeat
Bright Hope of Life

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4 Responses to Is Your Résumé a living, breathing document?

  1. Grace March 3, 2015 at 12:41 PM #

    Real valuable tips, especially on keeping the vocabulary current. 23 new words added per month to our culture! Lesson learned…to stay current, ya gotta keep up the the changes. Thx Marcia

    • Marcia LaReau March 11, 2015 at 10:56 AM #

      Thank you Grace, for reading and applying the principles. I do hope your jobsearch is short and that you find interesting work that meets your financial needs.

  2. Chris Rakoczy February 28, 2015 at 3:12 PM #

    Such great insights. After participating in Marcia’s workshop, I realized more than ever the need to craft customized resumes for each application, not just each career track.. Her system made it easy to construct a flexible, “living” document, and pull out from posting the most important details with which to populate the custom resume. I credit her with helping me position myself for the great job I now have!

    • Marcia LaReau March 11, 2015 at 10:58 AM #

      Chris, Thank you (as always) for insights and willingness to try new things. You really took it to heart and applied it. Hats off to you. My hope is that your job continues to be a source of enjoyment and financial security. All my best to you.