Why You Need a Living, Breathing Resume

October 29, 2019


Clients approach us for various reasons with a variety of needs—from helping with their newly launched start-up, taking their established business to the next level or making a move to a new career opportunity. No matter the circumstances, any transition is going to involve growing pains but the better prepared we are to tackle new challenges and opportunities, the easier it will be. Given that, one of the first questions we pose to entrepreneurs and professionals is, “Do you have a current resume?” For most people, the answer is no. While putting together a resume or even simply updating a new one may bring you back to your post-college days applying to your first real job, maintaining a living, breathing resume is valuable no matter what phase you are in your career.

The obvious example of a resume’s usefulness is when seeking a new position. Of course, you will want to present the best version of yourself to potential employers, including the responsibilities you have taken on, the outcomes you have contributed to and your areas of expertise. While that is at the forefront of every effective resume, other elements of a resume that demonstrate you are a dynamic and passionate person (not a robot) are also highly beneficial in helping you stand out to employers. These activities can include participation in professional groups and non-profits, speaking and writing engagements, award selection or any hobbies you invest your time in. When you highlight various aspects of who you are and the work you do in a resume, there is more material to catch a recruiter or HR manager’s eye. In addition, a stacked resume helps you stand out as a well-rounded person and makes you more attractive to an employer in a crowded job market. Regardless of professional goals, utilizing connections and resources is critical as you gear up for a change, especially if want to focus on an area that is less familiar to you or is something you have never done before.

Building out a resume is not only of use to a job seeker, it will also come in handy for anyone trying to raise their profile from business owners to in-house professionals. For example, are you looking to book more speaking engagements, join a non-profit board, pitch a column, win an award? Then ramping up your related experience in those areas in a current resume is key. You won’t necessarily share your full resume with everyone you seek an opportunity with, but rather, the purpose is to be able to pick and choose your relevant experience based on what applies to the specific situation or engagement.

So where does one start? We have clients tell us that they haven’t done any marketing or business development activities ever or in many years so there is nothing to include outside of their employment history on their resume. Usually, this is not actually the case. It’s important to think broadly when building out the other areas of our resume. For example, do you belong to a religious institution? Volunteer at your children’s school or through their extracurricular activities? Are you part of a neighborhood association or co-op board? All of these avenues show that you are contributing to your community and interact others who could potential help you or your organization (i.e., you “know people”). Think about the various ways you spend your time because in many cases, they are resume worthy.

On the flipside, we also see clients who are actively engaging in a variety of organizations from professional groups to non-profits, whose speaking and writing are extensive, and who are decorated with awards. However, their resumes often do not reflect all that they do or have done or their engagements are all over the place. For these individuals, a thorough update and organization is in order regarding the who, what, where and when of their activities.

When it comes to resumes, consistency and clarity is key. While a concise and well-designed resume can also be a positive differentiator, overly stylized resumes can be distracting and off-putting. Focus on clean and compelling content that is easy to digest so that your accomplishments speak for themselves—no bells and whistles needed.

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