Rescuing the "ho-hum" resume

Sometimes I am at a loss how to convey to a person, someone who is used to seeing the same dull, non-strategic, ho-hum resume content in all resumes, that a resume can be an interesting read, a dynamic piece of writing, an influential document.

This quote inspired today's blog. I can't begin to count the number of times a potential client has claimed "I'd write my own resume but I just don't have the time." Not the writing skill, not the knowledge, not the ability to compose meaningful and strategic content, but time alone.

The quote speaks volumes. Writing is difficult. I find it challenging to source just the right verb with which to begin a bullet; to identify which of a client's many skills should be showcased in an accomplishment that may have required multiple skills to execute; to portray the client, weaving words and phrases to express his personality, motivations, and abilities with the utmost integrity to his authentic being. I obsess over the details.

And all the above points must, MUST, address the needs of the positions to which the client will be applying. (Consider that sometimes zealous clients provide me with 70 pages of documentation. Job postings, performance reviews, career portfolio ... some people know how to truly manage a career!)

Yes, it's a daunting task, but, it's one that I, as a writer, relish! I have no skills in organizing complex and detailed events and I'll not be training to be a project manager or event planner. But I do have skills in organizing content and developing strategic messaging.

Examples are perhaps the best way to illustrate, so here's a before and after that captures the difference.

BEFORE (taken from an actual client's resume):

- Provided purchasing services Corporate Stakeholders from all Business groups. Tactical procurement for global expansions, with a focus for R&D laboratories, & Corporate Sites.

- Contract negotiations and renewals. Peer Mentor on boarding new Buyers into the department.

AFTER (from client's new resume):

- Provided procurement support to global business groups, collaborating with stakeholders on their CAPEX and OPEX budgets, annual contract renewals, and contract negotiations.

- Supported rapid corporate expansion by onboarding and cross-training four buyers, and by maintaining consistently productive internal client service levels through positive, business-building relationships.

- Selected to corporate assignments, for example, a 2-year project supporting transition to new business software; the corporate team that onboarded acquisitions; to lead teams opening global satellite locations; and to represent employer at global business conference.

The "before" builds no story, has no momentum, and confuses rather than illuminates (not to mention errors in capitalization and grammar). The "after" speaks to the reader as it holds phrases or key words from the job posting. It also offers insight into how this person executes the purchasing position's duties - throught collaborations and relationship building. The "after" also speaks to the prospective employer's "buying motivators," that is, what the employer needs from a new hire: productivity, effectiveness, emotional maturity.

Yes, writing takes a great deal of training. Strategy takes skill to develop. And together, the resume and other self-marketing documents take time and skill to develop an effecive premise, an interesting narrative, and an influential message.