Back in my early headhunting days,I began to recognize a particular style of resumé that I found very frustrating. It was typically two pages long, with achievements on the first page and employment on the second. It had an objective that was not usually helpful, and, given the format, it wasn’t possible to tell where the achievements were made. It created more questions than it answered. Believe me,when I’m looking at a pile of resumés, I’m trying to rule you out, and I’m willing to spend all of about 10 seconds to do it, questions are not what you want to create.
Over time, I realized that someone was out there teaching people to write resumés this way, and I made it a life goal to hunt them down and kill them.
Fast forward 15 years, and I have just gotten a job with a firm that helps people with their careers. In my first day of training, I am reading the manual that clients use. Turning to the section on resumés, I discover to my horror that I have found them!
My first thought on making the discovery was, “I have to resign. These guys are killing people!” But I had a real problem. I needed the money!
This quandary caused me to think long and hard about what was being taught, and why. After about a week, I realized what was going on. The fellow who invented all the basic tenets of contemporary job hunting, Dr. Bernard Haldane, didn’t call the document a resumé. And he didn’t suggest mailing it to people. He called it a marketing brochure, and taught people to use it in a face-to-face meeting with someone who might help them, either by hiring them or by referring them to someone who might. The document was never meant to be a resumé. But over the ensuing years, the people who ran the company were either unaware or had forgotten the concept.
By the way, in the 1940’s, calling such a document a marketing brochure might have been a good idea. It no longer is. This is the document I refer to as a profile.
The purpose of a resumé is to get you an interview. The purpose of the profile is to be used during a referral meeting. In such a meeting, you are already sitting down with someone, and you can easily respond to the questions the profile will inevitably create. In the ensuing conversation, you start to look pretty smart!
So as part of the job search,especially one that will be primarily driven by the referral process, you need to have a profile.
What does it look like?
The typical profile has four parts:objective, achievements, work history or employment, and education/special training.
The resumé should never have an objective, because 10:30 Tuesday night, under the lamp with a headache, I don’t care what your objective is. I have my own objective—turning a big pile into a little pile. The profile has an objective because in your meeting, you will discuss the objective and how it helps or hurts you in the search. Also,sitting across the desk from you, it’s helpful to me to know what you’re trying to accomplish.
The achievement section contains the results of the work you’ve done to identify what you’re selling (see “What Do You Have to Sell”). Here you will list no fewer than eight, and no more than 12 of the achievements that best support your objective. The number should be based on space requirements. If you’re a new grad or have only a year or two of work experience, you’ll most likely keep it to one page. Do not include how you did them. What you did, and it’s result for your employer are all you need.Remember, the document is supposed to cause questions. Almost certainly, you will be asked how and where you achieved one or more of these results, and again, you’ll start looking pretty smart!
The employment section is a list,most recent first, of your work history. There should be no more than two or three lines describing each job. All the selling is done in the achievements section. Basically, the purpose of the employment section is to show that you haven’t spent lengthy periods in prison. By the way, if you have, you should get in touch with me. There’s hope.
The education section speaks for itself. Your highest level is first. If you are in school, put in an expected graduation date. Otherwise, never put in a graduation date. Don’t put in high school. If you don’t have a degree, don’t put in every course you’ve ever taken in an attempt to show that you really are smart. In that case, don’t have an education section, unless you have special training that is relevant to your work situation.