Your resume is not a summary of your past, a list of your skills, or a history of your past experiences – it is a print advertisement. Advertisements are designed to persuade a target audience to do something. In the case of the resume, you need to persuade the employer to schedule an interview with you. People who describe resumes as histories, lists, and summaries miss the point. There is more strategy involved in creating an appealing advertisement and the first thing needed is focus.
Identify Areas of Interest
When people ask me to review their resume, the first thing I ask them is, “What are you targeting?” When they say they are just looking for any job, what they don’t realize is that they are asking the wrong question. Rather than asking for a career professional to review their resume, they need to sit down and get help on narrowing their focus to identify some areas of interest. Likely, they may need to do research first to help them identify some areas of interest. This doesn’t mean you have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life; it simply means you need to know enough about your own interests to at least identify some industries or jobs that align with those interests. Ideally, if a person already has a solid focus, then they should identify how they can start building the experience they need for the job they eventually want.
What if You Don’t Know Your Interests?
Most people at least have some understanding of their interests but many people haven’t been exposed to the vast amount of opportunities that exist in the world and so they don’t know what they don’t know. If you are having trouble identifying your interests, you need to do some exploratory research in the job market and within yourself.
Ways to do Exploratory Research
- Ask a Career Advisor for help. Career Advisors have specialized knowledge in the industries taught at your school and usually help students and alumni at no cost. Ask for their advice!
- Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics and review the Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Scan job boards to get ideas of interest (www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com)
- Do an interest assessment to find career matches. A great site that costs only $4.95 is http://www.self-directed-search.com/.
- Learn about your personality type. A very popular self-assessment is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type indicator. You can learn about your personality type at Human Metrics.