Part 1 of this article compared resumé writing with the sculpting of David, Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s marble masterpiece. By treating your career history like a block of stone and working on it skilfully, you too can create a resumé that wows the reader.
Yesterday’s article looked at the first key to making your resumé more impressive — opting for a simple, elegant design. Here are the other three keys:
Key no. 2: A strong focus
First produced in 1891, the Swiss Army knife packs in not only multiple knives, but also a screwdriver, a can opener, a corkscrew, a bottle opener, a scissors, a tweezers, a saw, a file and more. It is a brilliant piece of engineering and a convenient multi-faceted tool for people on the go.
But don’t try the concept when writing your resumé! Imagine stuffing it with every detail of your work life — experiences, capabilities, achievements, and so on, in no particular order of importance?
Invariably, the result will be a highly diluted, rambling document. To differentiate your resumé in a crowded marketplace, see it as a carefully crafted package of selective information.
The following two strategies can help you bring greater focus to your resumé:
Delete all items that are routine, ordinary and a given in your position. For example, do you really need to include “knowledge of MS Office” or “meetings/coordination/liaison” as one of your responsibilities or a list of all internal training programmes you attended? When you remove things that don’t matter, what matters stands out.
After purging the superfluous details, arrange the remaining information like a list of responsibilities and achievements, keeping important, more relevant items at the top.
Bottom line: To be impressive, delete irrelevant stuff, de-emphasise unimportant things by demoting them and emphasise important things by promoting them.
Key no. 3: Specific and detailed information
Even light rain on the windshield of your car can blur your vision and you have to activate the wipers to ensure you continue to drive safely. A resumé that is full of vague, unsubstantiated content and lacking in specific data or details is the career equivalent of the wet windshield — it won’t get you very far.
Here are a few examples:
• Managed project resources, progress and completion timeframes and budget with results;
• Experience in operating in a multi-cultural environment; and
• Excellent communication skills.
These statements look ordinary, but compare them with the following:
• Managed and completed five projects worth $400 million over four years — all within schedule and budget;
• Successfully worked for three years as a member of a project team involving people from 35 nationalities operating from three different countries; and
• Wrote six feasibility reports (70+ pages each), and delivered five major presentations to customers in the last two years.
Bottom line: To be impressive, be specific by adding numbers and details.
Key no. 4: Authenticity
Any resumé is an outcome of the interplay between three conflicting forces: First is ego, second is salesmanship and the third is conscience.
Our ego pushes us to think we are more competent, better, higher, brighter and smarter than we may be. Our salesmanship pushes us to project ourselves as the most suitable person for as many opportunities as possible.
Meanwhile, our conscience tries to resist the pulls and pushes of the other two to paint a more realistic picture of our career achievements and capabilities.
When you are swayed too much by your ego and/or salesmanship, you end up with a resumé that is more fluff than substance. To sculpt a masterpiece like David, follow the advice of actress Ingrid Bergman who said: “Be yourself. The world worships the original.”
So, tone down those elements that belong more to your ego and salesmanship than reality — besides, seasoned interviewers can usually spot the truth. In conclusion, an impressive resumé is neat and simple, focused and specific. Above all, it is authentic.
We usually think that a monument like the David was created because Michelangelo worked on it, but look at it another way.
An artist who was given a block of stone turned into Michelangelo because he chose to sculpt something as perfect, beautiful and timeless as the David.
When you diligently work on your resumé to make it more impressive, you can’t remain unchanged. As you shape your resumé, it will shape you.