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How to Bring Your Resume into Focus

Having trouble writing your resume? Not sure how to begin? The answer often lies in the fogginess of your objectives. If you aren’t sure of which jobs you want to target with your resume, it can easily become an exercise in listing everything you have ever done. Not only is this painful, but it is also supremely ineffective. 

FOCUS YOUR DIRECTION

Before you even think about crafting your resume, a great starting point is researching and writing down your career goals as well as the specific positions you want to pursue.

Having a focused direction will help you write your resume because resumes are all about direction! You might think that they are about your background, but truly impactful resumes are laser-focused documents aligned with your target roles and industry.

OBJECTIVE STATEMENT VS. BRANDING STATEMENT

Case in point, the objective statement vs. the career summary. Gone are the days of the objective statement, the short paragraph at the top of the resume that reads something like this:

Accomplished technology professional with 10 years of experience seeking an executive position overseeing hardware, software, and services portfolio development, revenue growth, and overall strategy.

Instead, the career summary or branding statement has come into vogue. Rather than explaining what a job seeker wants, it explains what you offer a company (preferably in a powerful, non-generic, achievement-based approach.) For example:

Award-winning technology leader drives revenue growth of up to $200M through innovative strategies for hardware, software, and services portfolio. Accelerates business development by establishing streamlined client experience process, overhauling stagnant sales culture, and inking deals with Fortune 500 companies. 

There are many differences between these two statements, but the main point is that the objective statement focuses on what you want from a job, and the branding statement emphasizes what you promise to deliver to meet the employer’s needs. It’s a helpful way to view the entire resume writing process—which is ultimately all about your audience.

How can you even write a branding statement without knowing what the potential employer’s needs are? 

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU START

What are my career goals for next 5 years?

What are my top 3 goals? (Making more money, moving into the executive level, better work-life balance?)

What does my dream job look like?

What is my target market?

What position titles do I want?

What other considerations are important to me in a new job?

What is my brand/elevator pitch/area of expertise?

ELIMINATE/MINIMIZE IRRELEVANT EXPERIENCE

Once you have a clear vision for the jobs you want, the companies you like, and your own brand, it will be easy to start writing, because the relevant experiences, skills, and achievements will be illuminated, and the irrelevant can now be eliminated or at least minimized.

For example, our technology leader in the objective statement above had a good deal of experience in sales as well as in global coverage architecture. He was no longer interested in sales roles, so his early experiences as a Sales Rep could simply be removed, since they weren’t adding any value. Many of his positions in the past 10 years included sales or sales management, so it became a matter of limiting the emphasis on sales and re-weighting the experiences towards strategic planning and global systems integration. 

Keep in mind that this process of elimination might be difficult, because it can feel like you are removing important career achievements. But if those achievements are no longer relevant to your goals, the best thing to do is let them go.

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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Monster.com, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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