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Does Your Resume Lack Focus?

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I read a lot of resumes each week as part of my job and as a favor to folks who are looking for guidance or help. I am noticing a disturbing pattern – resumes that lack focus. Times are tough and people are trying very hard to be qualified for anything and everything. In the process, their lack of focus confuses me and others who may read their resume. If I can’t discern where the right placement may be for a person, I quickly move on to the next resume.

Here is some very detailed feedback I gave this week to an out-of-work woman with 20 years experience:

Your summary lacks punch. It’s all good stuff, but I am left feeling – so what? What unique thing do you bring? What type of work are you passionate about? If I hire you, what do I get right off the bat? I see a list of specialties – but what do you really LOVE to do? I find that people that lack a focus  have a hard time finding a job because they are trying to please everyone and in the process, end up not getting anyone’s attention. Focusing on the type of job you want will help. Is it customer advocacy? Project Management? Training? Software? You’re all over the place. I have no idea how I would use you or who to send you to inside our company. Do I send you to Sales? To SW? To the Technical Assistance Center? Can you code? Do you want to stay in insurance? Do you want a customer service job?

Don’t be afraid to go to a second page. What else do you do besides work? What other things might I find interesting about you? Volunteer activities? How do you give back?

I once was really excited to talk to a candidate because they had something funny – like ‘professional rehabilitation patient due to multiple knee surgeries’ on their resume. It was random – and it gave us a common ground – and talking point. And made her more interesting. (We did hire her here at Intel – she caught my attention and I pulled her out of the pile.)

I like the first job description on your resume – you used lots of numbers, percentages and data that helps me understand what you accomplished. This level of detail is missing from your second job.

Another thought is – has you checked out some of the specialty temp agencies? Oftentimes in this type of market/economy – working at a temp job – opens up other jobs. You could also volunteer in areas that are close to what you want to do. Volunteering opens up networks, networks help you find your next job.

My advice this month is to find your focus or niche. Do some self-discovery work to help you understand where you want to go with your career. If it’s early and you have several things you want to explore, create a resume for EACH area. Don’t try to have one resume that works for any and every role. Once you find your focus, focus in on the job postings and industries that are most applicable. My favorite resumes are the ones that have enough detail that I can almost immediately say “wow, this person would be great in our SW Development group focused on Wearables.” Think about your audience – folks that are reading hundreds of resumes at a time – make it easy on us and we’ll be sure to pass along your resume to the right hiring manager for review.