Was at our local ASTD Chapter’s Munch & Mingle today. Several of the attendees were there as part of a job search, and interested in different perspectives on how to craft a resume. One admitted he hadn’t made one since shortly after college (and while I didn’t ask his age, I’m guessing that was more than a few (hundred) months ago.It’s amazing the advice that has been doled out over the years. I think it’s very hard to have a one-size-fits-all approach to such things. I’ve never met a soul who wanted themselves described by a piece of paper. And I’ve never seen anyone hire a sheet of paper. That paper’s goal is to get the real “you” in front of a decision-maker. It’s not unlike the message we give verbally — wherever we give a message.And the basic principles of good communication apply — wherever they are used. First and foremost, of course, is Rule #1. It’s hard to imagine sometimes that a paper completely about you shouldn’t be about you, but it’s true. It’s not. It has to be about them. Employers don’t usually engage in philanthropic hiring. Meet their needs and you’re in. Don’t and you’re not.Rule #1 drives everything, but a good audience analysis is a close second. Know as much as you can about what they need and want and meet it head on. Communication is in high gear after that.Formatting and style are secondary to those two simple points. It’s true in person; it’s true on paper. It can usually get you thrown out, but rarely will get you a blanket invitation in. Communicate value early and often — leave the rest for them to ask about. Short and sweet is always welcome. Stuff trumps fluff.
Focus your resume on your employer, not you.