The one business skill I never developed, and the one that likely hampered my career more than anything, was writing a resumé. It was a combination of several things:
I was always unprepared. When I sat down to write my resumé, I was stuck: what were my accomplishments, particularly the ones that would get me a job? I had done lots in my career as a technical person and a trainer. I knew several computer languages, a couple of which I had taught myself. I had installed and implemented multiple software packages, had learned ancient legacy code applications better than anyone had ever learned them, even better than the people who wrote them. I had become a valuable trainer and consultant who could, in the words of one of my managers, throw bullshit better than anyone. But when I sat down at the keyboard, I drew a blank. It never occurred to me to write any of that stuff down.
Another thing: At the end of the resumé, there was a section for references. Typically, I put “available upon request,” counting on the interviewer not to ask for them. If they had, I’d’ve been in trouble, because I hadn’t lined anyone up. I never bothered to ask any of my former managers and colleagues if they would give me one.
I was too honest. I would start to write down an accomplishment, and stop myself: wait, I would ask, is that something I can really say that I did? Because if it isn’t, someone will find out… Notes would have helped there, too, as would references. A lot of times I was afraid to write down major accomplishments because of this.
I never learned that most successful jobseekers lie all the time. Well, not lie: maybe stretch the truth a little bit. Sometimes maybe a lot.
I was lazy. This should be apparent by now. A resumé was always something I wrote when I intended on changing jobs. It never occurred to me to work on it before then. Consequently, when it came time to write one, I had no idea what I was doing, and I’d just give up.
Then, I ran into a situation where writing a resumé was not an option. Where, rather than me leaving a job, a job left me. I had to write one, because I had to find another job. And I did. I had mouths to feed: mine, Mary’s, and a bunch of feline ones.
I’m retired now, and don’t need a resumé. If you do, here are some tips:/p>
- Don’t put it off. A great opportunity might be waiting out there. You might run into a friend who knows of a job opening, or hear from a recruiter who has multiple openings, any of which might be a good fit. Time is of the essence when that happens, and having a resumé in your briefcase to give them might be the difference between getting the job and continuing to be stuck at the one you have.
- Keep it current. Updating it on a regular basis will tell you whether you’re still the valued employee that they always say that you are, or if maybe it’s time to fimd another place to be a valued employee.
- Cultivate your references. Call them a couple of times a year, take them to lunch, find out what they’re up to, and find out if there’s anything you can do for them. Stay in touch with them. Be a friend.
- Practice makes perfect. Or at least much better. Update your resumé several times a year, definitely after every achievement, no matter how small. Experiment with different formats. You might find a format that works better for you.