Are you playing the game, or just getting played?

Resume Booster Exercise #1

I am going to assume because you are reading this you are unemployed. Most likely you have recently been sacked. Canned. Dismissed. Layed off. Cut from the herd. Banished from the tribe.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a job.

You’re job at this point is clear – to find a new job. And not just any job. Your job is to turn this situation around and make your next position a step up. No one can guarantee you will be completely successful in this effort, but you need to aim high and focus on a compelling, positive outcome.

Because in the battle for the best jobs, there will be casualties. And those who are shell-shocked and stunned are typically the first to perish. Great leaders in battle can see it in the eyes of some soldiers; the fear and confusion and doubt and dismay, and great leaders know that unless they can change the mindset of these individuals, they are likely to be the first to die.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t be apprehensive. Of course you should. This is going to be a tough, sometimes ugly, long fight. Fear and apprehension can help to drive you, to keep your thinking clear and focused. But if your fear devolves into doubt and dismay, this is when you are in danger of accelerating your own demise.

So let’s start with the facts.

  • You are looking for your next job.
  • Even in a tough economy, there are many great jobs available.
  • Lots of other people want these great jobs.
  • Many of these people are smart, motivated and highly qualified. Many are perhaps better qualified than you.
  • Your next perfect job is waiting for you, but you’re going to have to fight to win it.

There is a lot more to share with you regarding your mindset and motivation during the job search process, but my experience with hundreds of people in this situation is that they are anxious to do or try something tangible. And too much time spent talking or thinking about soft fuzzy issues like motivation and mindset can be frustrating, until you feel you are equipped to actually do something.

So I’m going to share with you something you can do right now which can have an immediate impact. I’m assuming you have already written a resume. If not, I’m not planning to share with you the basic elements of writing a good resume – you can get that on a thousand websites.

But once you have a resume that you feel really positive about, a resume that reflects all of your skills, competencies and positive attributes, then you are ready to begin this first exercise. But again, make sure you are starting with a strong resume, one that you have put some real thought into. Then take your resume and replace your name with a another random name, preferably of the opposite gender. So if your name is “Chris Jones” you might replace the name with “Pat Jackson.” Also replace any other specifically identifying details such as address, phone number, etc.

After stripping your individual identify from the resume completely, print a copy (don’t just look at it on the computer screen) and set it in front of you. Now for a moment, imagine that you are competing against this “Pat Jackson” person and ask yourself how are you going to make sure that your resume is the one that a recruiter is drawn to.

This is more than just a little exercise, because recruiters review hundreds of really great resume’s every single week. Your current resume may be really good, but most of the others are really good to. Over the course of the next few postings to this blog we will be sharing specific ideas to boost the impact of your resume. But it all starts with this first simple exercise. Once you have created the “Pat Jackson” resume and look at it through the eyes of a competitor, some of the subtle flaws in your document may reveal themselves. To start with, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the first half of the first page really grab attention with key accomplishments or capabilities that are truly differentiated from all of the other resumes? If so, how can you make it better, because now you are competing against “Pat.”
  • Instead of telling what you did, are you leading with how you positively impacted the business? Start with the impact or result and then briefly explain how you did it. Example: 32% increase in customer retention, achieved through proactive monthly calls, quick problem resolution and a consistent service-oriented attitude.
  • Is the document an “easy read” with adequate spacing, bullet points, sentences that flow smoothly, etc? Because recruiters rad so many resumes, if yours is too dense and cramped they may quickly dismiss it.

Remember now, you are competing against “Pat” and your first assignment is to rewrite your resume to create one that is even better than your first effort. It usually isn’t enough to just change a few words and phrases, you need to back up and rethink the whole thing. Because Pat just stole your original resume and you need to create a better one.

In future posts we will share a few additional resume boosting ideas.

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
George S. Patton