Archive for the 'career' Category

How to prepare your best resume

6 September, 2007

Introduction

Many resources on the web will explain how to write a CV by listing its types: chronological, functional, professional and what have you. They will not fail to mention how to lay out each one of them, nor what action verbs to fill in the dots.

This article does not aim to discuss those matters. If you are indeed looking for that, kindly move on and refer to

http://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+write+a+CV

The rest of this article will focus on a much more fundamental, much less standardisable issue:

How do I want to portray myself to potential employers?

As we shall see, potentially existential questions such as “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” will not be dodged but taken head on. Not, mind you, for the faint of heart.

Point of view

First, a quick change of perspective. Imagine yourself looking for an employee. Your business has been doing very well, thank you, but you are forced to leave too many opportunities untouched; all your time is spent on existing business, with no spare moments to develop your markets. You need to hire somebody new.

Your first instinct? Easy; hire people you know – they may not be perfectly suited to the type of work you require from them, but at least you are aware of their limitations. You will redefine their work to suit their talents and take care of the rest yourself.

Key words: suitability, type of work

Suitability

Companies are made of people. Most of the time, those people are reasonably good at what they do and reasonably integrated with their closest colleagues – at least to the extent that essential communication about reciprocal expectations exists.

Suitability basically refers to the professional and relational aspects of work: are you good enough at what we demand from you and do you fit in with us? If either of these two questions is answered with a negative, you are not a suitable candidate.

Type of work

Companies exist because they fill a need. Take away the need and the company is doomed. Take away the ability to fill the need, and it is doomed just the same.

The type of work is, in one way or another, related to a company’s ability to fill a need. Hence, even with similarly sounding job titles, actual work may differ substantially between companies; depending on the niche they are active in or the customer they serve, the work is optimised to fill that particular need. All a company needs is a person with the talents to perform that work.

Who am I?

If you are still with me, congratulations! We are going to fill in the dots, one by one. Let us assume you are actively looking for a job. Here is a conscience question for you: have you asked yourself recently what it is that you like to do? What sparks your passion? Not necessarily work-wise, even.

Perhaps you love gardening, or dig video games. Whatever it is that makes your heart beat faster, keep that thought. See if you can describe the state you are in when performing your favourite pastime. Are you focused? Relaxed? Out of this world? Pen it down, explain it as meticulously as possible; aim for at least five to seven key sentences. This is how you would like to feel most of the time.

When you are satisfied by the answers you’ve written down, turn the tables and ask yourself: what is it about that activity that makes me feel that way? Perhaps it is the contact with people, the opportunity to make a difference, or the challenge to find solutions quickly before time is up. Write all the reasons – again, don’t be satisfied with less than five or seven. Make the connection between these reasons and the states of mind they get you in visible by drawing lines between the two.

Why am I here?

You just managed to describe your passions as well as what rocks your boat – compliments, no mean feat. You are one step closer to the one ideal of ages: know yourself. We are not there yet, but you made a major effort. Give yourself a pat on the back; not many people have gotten this far.

The next step is to think back and list the accomplishments during your lifetime that made you proud, no matter how futile they may have looked to others. They could be a drawing you made when you were three years old, or a discovery you made when you were eleven. Perhaps even a report you devised at work seven months ago, no matter. What counts is the feeling of accomplishment and pride they filled you with at the time. Five or seven is the minimum, but the more, the better.

Make sure your list is as complete as possible; it should disclose your full potential, in all its facets. You don’t want to limit yourself at this stage; we are all about opening opportunities. Pruning will come at a later stage, one that is beyond the scope of this article.

The meat of the story

By now, you must be thinking: Man, this article was supposed to tell me How To Write A CV, and all I get is this wishy-washy Know Yourself stuff. Get real already! Fair enough, I’ll get to the point soon. Just hang on for one more distraction: Your Goal.

See, what you’ve done up to now is no less than a thorough self examination of What You Are Passionate About and What You Are Good At. Combine the two, and tada!, you have the building blocks for the centre piece of any CV you can think of: your professional objective.

Admittedly, you are not going to write “Professional objective: drawing pictures of gnomes in trees”, even if you did write that when you were four years old you felt a great sense of accomplishment when you finished that work of art. Rather, your next step is to figure out what concrete talents are at the base of your accomplishments: creativity, endurance, analysis, empathy, etcetera.

For your entertainment, here is the professional objective from my latest CV:

“IT project management in an environment that encourages risk taking through assignment of responsibilities in accordance with authority.”

How did I get there? I figured I have a knack of getting people around a shared goal and making sure I get out of the way when they get to accomplish that goal in the ways they choose, while being there for them to reduce any friction they might encounter on the way. That is my combination of talents and passions, formulated in a suitably business oriented way.

Make sure, though, that you don’t lose sight of all your other key phrases; they will be useful in tracking that other important part of your CV: the Personal Profile, where you will list those characteristics of you that you imagine are most relevant to your potential employer. Map each of them back to your list of talents and passions and make sure they are relevant to the position you aspire to.

Conclusion

Talents, passion, Professional Objective and Personal Profile: four elements that together provide the foundation for a solid, inspiring and authentic CV that will convey to your potential employers an image of you that is both truthful and relevant. A CV that will enable you to meet those employers in person and take the next step: show them by your actual performance that you are in fact the one they are looking for.

Good luck!