The idea of a “magical” resume could be said to resemble the mythical unicorn. We’d like to believe that such a wonderful and unique creature could exist, but we live in a world that says, “Not gonna happen!” To some extent, the same can be said about resumes. Hoping your resume will magically land you the job of your dreams if you don’t put the right kind of effort into it won’t get you very far.
Creation of a resume that can help you work magic with potential employers resembles the work of a skilled bricklayer. He carefully places brick upon brick and makes sure to use the right kind and amount of cement to hold the bricks together so he achieves the desired effect. In other words, he knows what he wants the outcome to be and takes the right steps to get there.
How does this translate into practical concepts and actions for your professional resume?
The following three elements all play a part in developing a resume that tells employers, “I’m the one you need” in the most appropriate and compelling terms:
1. Know Your Audience: A true one-size-fits-all resume does not exist. You might be tempted to keep all your options open by not being too specific, out of fear that being specific will cause you to miss good opportunities. Resist the temptation! Define as clearly as possible who your target audience is and find out as much as you can about them, including their probable needs. Use that as a foundation for developing your magical resume.
2. Know Yourself: Avoid either selling yourself short or inflating your capabilities. Instead, honestly evaluate what you can do, what you want to do, and—within those parameters—what you can offer potential employers that they would find worth paying good money for. One way to approach this is to get the view of outsiders (non-relatives, for example) on what you do best and how you have added value to your employers.
3. Know the Market: In a good job market, you might have some slack, unless you’re pursuing opportunities for which you don’t have the necessary qualifications. In a poor job market, slack is nonexistent. In either case, you need to find legitimate ways to show how you outclass your competition, and that means going beyond the tried-and-true approaches—the things you’ve always done that used to work so well but don’t any more.
A word of caution—NETWORKING: Virtually every job-seeker faces at least some competition—the farther up the ladder you go, the more you’ll face because there are fewer opportunities at those levels. You could create the most magical resume imaginable and still come up short if you don’t get it to the right people at the right time.
Building and nourishing a strong network should come before the point where you start submitting your resume for employment opportunities. Few people succeed solely on their own, no matter how good they are.
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