Career Focus – Building a Resume For Fit and Focus

Finding a job is the ultimate goal for the job seeker. However, to get there without wasting time requires having a real plan with a clear target.

Since the market is flooded with job seekers, the competition is more intense now than ever. There may be many talents and skills you can list on your resume, but you must make sure your resume is focused. It is not necessary to list every skill you might have accomplished at a particular job unless it is pertinent to what the employer is listing as qualifications or requirements for the position.

For example, think about the last time you had to clean out your garage, the basement, that junk room, or even that junk drawer. It’s absolutely stuffed with useless items. The last thing you want to do is drag out every single item, decide to keep or discard it, and then reorganize with purpose the things you want to keep. But you find the courage. You start the project. Suddenly you can’t seem to let go of things that you “may need some day.” You’ve had it for years, will probably never use it, but for some illogical reason, you can’t let it go! But inside you know what you should do. Don’t hang on to everything! Get lean and mean!

This also applies to how you layout your resume. When applying for an opening, you have to rework the resume or cover letter to match that specific position – which can be an exhausting task. So what about creating a template for your resume? What if you started with a resume that is targeted to what you really want? What if you cleaned out the resume garage? Pull out every skill or achievement you have under the roof and lay it out in chronological order. You could even categorize your skills or achievements as another way of looking at your career history. Then, streamline your resume by eliminating the “excess” so that it showcases your talent and has a clear focus. Don’t hold on to things you don’t need because you are trying too hard to be everything to everyone. That just confuses the reader! Once you have a focused resume completed, it’s much easier to edit it for a specific position that matches your goal.

Here are some steps to streamline your resume for potential employers or networking purposes.

Job Resume Tactic #1 – Create a resume template and then list all applicable achievements that highlight your match to the job you will be seeking. As I’ve been saying, when you read an ad or job posting, streamline the resume to fit the job. Push back and don’t dump everything back into the “garage”! You want the resume to reflect the skills and requirements the employer is looking for in an applicant. Going back 10 years (but no more than 15) in your employment history should be enough. If you’re listing education, include it all no matter how long ago it was accomplished. It’s not necessary to give dates on degrees, etc.

Job Resume Tactic #2 – If you don’t know what career target you really want, then start by choosing two targets you can research by talking to others who currently hold that position. Use your resume as a way to introduce your strengths and why you are interested in the job target. Ask how they see your talent and skills fitting within this job. Maybe you have worked for large organizations in a specialized field, but now want to make a change. Do they see your skills fitting in this new job target? Where do they see a fit? What differentiates a candidate in this area? What other areas could utilize your talent and skills? What is their suggestion on where you can go and what you can do with your talent and skill set? Then, who do they know in those areas whom you can talk to? When you build relationships with your peers at other companies and in other industries, they become internal advocates and ready connections to jobs they hear about.

Job Resume Tactic #3 – Utilize the “T” letter to showcase your “FIT” for the job. This type of letter literally has two columns in the body of the letter, one titled “Their requests” and the other “I obtain.” The “T” letter can be used in place of the cover letter. Use the “T” letter to make it easier for the employer to keep your resume active. Don’t allow them to eliminate you because your resume is overwhelming, too wordy, or more than two pages. This is the best you can do when you have not been able to build a relationship with the decision maker. Remember not to spend too much time applying for jobs, and instead focus on networking!

So, approach your job search with a plan. Have a career focus. Clean out your resume “garage” and streamline your response so that it’s organized and has a real theme. By being organized and having a plan, you won’t find yourself looking for a job well under what you are capable of doing because of desperation. You won’t push your resume out like a shotgun blast just hoping to hit something. Having a focused resume and a plan will allow you to hold a dynamic networking meeting with a valued professional, not one where it seems like you don’t know what you want. Having a plan will help you breathe easier… because now you have direction and know what you want!