Want a resume that writes itself?

Moment of truth…does anybody enjoy updating their resume?  That’s what I thought.  I think it’s safe to say most people don’t.

Your resume is one of the most difficult documents you will ever have to write.  That’s because there is usually so much at stake to getting it right.  And even if you happen to get everything right that doesn’t mean it will ensure a quick transition or that you’ll get called every time you submit it.   If you are updating your resume there is a really good chance you are experiencing some major changes.  I believe that writing a resume is a very stressful exercise.

Add to the mix the fact that it’s tough to remember all the details of all the great things you accomplished over the years.  That all adds up to a lot of pressure.  Over time memory fades.  The details become blurred.  What’s the best way to overcome all that?  I have found it to be a resume that writes itself.

The best resumes are full of specific details.  Those details include almost anything you can substantiate by numbers including but not limited to:

  • Money saved
  • Specific percentage increases in good things such as revenue, sales, quota, productivity, growth, etc.
  • Specific percentage decreases in bad things such as turnover, cost over-runs, expenses, etc.

You might be saying “Well that’s great Chris but how do I manage to pull all of that from the deep, dark recesses of my memory and get it on paper?”  If you use this very simple system, you will not have to remember any of it.  It has proven itself time and again over the years.

Every time you start a new position take a file folder (yes, an actual manila file folder to keep in your drawer) and label it RESUME.  If you feel uncomfortable with that particular label, you can certainly use anything you like.  I like keeping an actual file folder in my desk drawer for a few reasons.  First, it’s easy to reach over and grab.  Secondly,  it’s not a file in your email system on your work computer.  Storing things on your work computer can be a gamble.  Third, on your last day, you can grab the folder, throw it in your bag and take it with you.  Your computer stays behind.

On a post-it note, write the month, day and year you started your new job as well as the complete address and phone number.  You think you will never forget your work number or the zip code at the office but it never fails, you will.  We all have so many other things to remember that are more important.  That information will be needed when it comes time to completing applications for your next job.  It’s a sad fact that these days, the average job lasts a mere three years.

Now, every time you accomplish something at work like smashing a company record or completing a project early and/or under budget, write the specific details on another post-it note and slap it in your file.  I like using post-its because they won’t fall out of the file folder.  You can use index cards or a regular sheet of paper if you like but I am used to post-its.  They are always sitting on your desk and they’re quick to grab.  Jot the details of the accomplishment along with the date and off to the file it goes.

What are the specific details to include?  The ones you can substantiate with numbers; the amount the project came in under budget, the amount of time the project was completed early, the amount of money the company will save.  If you write the details down as they happen, you won’t have to remember them later.  This system is fast, easy and painless.  No more wracking your brain for details years down the road.  By the time you need to update your resume again, pull out your folder and see that you have already written it.  All you need to do now is make it look presentable.

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One comment on “Want a resume that writes itself?

  1. Paul Holt says:

    Chris, this is great advice to follow! Just wish I had done more of that 7+ years ago!

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