Round Robin Resume Revising: It Works!
After helping two friends revise their resume recently, I realized how much I’ve learned through osmosis of managing PRSA Jobcenter for five years. I’ve had the benefit of meeting many insightful recruiters and asking them advice on behalf of our job seekers.
While there’s no “perfect formula” for revising a resume, here’s some advice and strategies I’ve obtained with a little help from my friends.
1) Brainstorm: Spend time listing all of your accomplishments. This process may take a few days but it’s important to get everything down on paper. If your final document is five pages long – it’s easier to cut than to create.
2) Feedback: Invite over two friends whose opinion you admire and respect. One friend should have great writing and editing skills. The other friend should take notes. The goal for you is to just listen and focus. Encourage them to be candid. Their job is to help you draft a resume to retain the limited attention span of a very harried and overworked recruiter.
3) Brag Briefly with Your Background Summary: You basically have no more than three sentences or four short bullets for a recruiter to know whether they should read further. Do not write this as a narrative. Bullets are more succinct. Ask your friends to read the resume aloud and make sure they stop and identify each key point that can be made into a bullet within your background summary. Devote the most thought into this part of your resume — it’s that important.
4) Be Brief: Keep each thought to only one sentence. If it’s longer, it’s too long.
5) Give Measurable Positive Results to Each Skill-Set: What did you accomplish? It’s not enough to say that you pitched stories to the media. Where did you land those stories? How much did your readership increase? Did your YouTube go viral? How many clicks did your tweets receive? My friend and I were two hours into a resume revising session before he finally mentioned that he increased sales by the millions within his first year at his agency. If you can’t think of a goal you accomplished through the skillset then don’t list it.
6) Research the Possibilities: Do some groundwork on the types of jobs you’d like to apply for before meeting with your friends. What keywords are employers using? Are there certain keywords all the job descriptions have in common? Make sure you incorporate these keywords into your resume along with your action verbs. Don’t be fancy. Don’t embellish. Don’t substitute words. A recruiter friend of mine asked their client to revise a resume four times before they could submit it. Why? Because the job seeker wanted to show off their vocabulary. Just use the same keywords the employer is using.
7) Divide and Conquer: Depending on where you are in your career, you should have at least four different resumes – and that’s just the beginning. After sitting with one of my friends, we determined she had enough qualifications to tailor her resumes as an office manager, executive assistant, nutritionist, art and antiques curator and bookkeeper. Considering the diversity of public relations industries and the various skills required, having many versions allows you to highlight key information for targeted jobs.
8) Rest and Reshare:Like any good writing piece, there comes a point where you have to step away from it and have a day or two of breathing space. After hearing your friends tear apart your resume (which they will do lovingly in your best interests), you’ll need time to review the resume again with a completely fresh eye. Once you’re confident that it’s ideal, give the resume to several talented writing friends that have never seen it before. As careful as you may be, you may miss typos that would land your resume in the hopper.
9) Remain Relevant: I recently returned from an association event for job board managers and recruiters. What’s the best way to incense a recruiter? Apply to a job that’s not relevant. One job seeker applied to so many jobs through the same recruiter (whether relevant of not) that they crashed the system every time their name came up. As a result, the resume had to be red-flagged from being opened by the recruiter. You’re much better off applying for 100 relevant jobs than 5,000 irrelevant ones.
10) Rejuvenate: You’re going to need all the strength you can muster in your job hunt. Getting enough sleep sounds like common sense – but it’s more important than you can imagine. You’ll be grilled on your resume and asked to elaborate on each point. Be sure you can explain every skillset listed on your resume. Practice with your friends and stay alert.
Best of luck and contact the Jobcenter at any time with questions. PRSA Jobcenter is here with Mentor-Match (for members), an Ask the Experts question and answer forum (open to all) and career guidance from articles, blogs and expert recruiters.
Richard Spector is manager of client services at PRSA. He will be presenting the session: “PRSA’s Jobcenter: Tips and Tricks to Use During Your Job Search” at West Virginia University IMC INTEGRATE 2012 Conference.