Think Pocket Resume Mentality for a Better Resume
I first wrote about pocket resumes a few weeks back after reading a discussion in a Linkedin.com groups. It mentioned a company offering business card sized pocket resumes for use at networking events. What exactly can you fit on a card that size? I did some more research as promised (see my Pocket Resumes: Who Would Have Thought?) and caught a glimpse of a mentality I believe can help you land your next job. Let me share it with you.
On a business card sized pocket resume, for lack of a better name, space is at a premium. There is no room for fluff. You must cut, cut, cut and decide, “What information has earned a spot on my few inches of real estate?” And this final message must be clear, concise and memorable or it does you no good. What would our resume look like if we took on a mentality like that?
Let’s consider what a resume does for you. Its primary job is to land you an interview. It’s not there to explain your life’s endeavors. It isn’t there to advertise your extensive job history and accumulated accolades. It’s there to charm, allure and get someone to pick up the phone. Once you’ve gotten the appointment, the resume declares victory.
How exactly might that work? If you do your homework, you’ll be convinced that networking is the best way to your next job. You deliver your message to friends, relatives, and contacts that get it to people who know you only indirectly in order to get it to a hiring manager with an open position you can fill. But for this to work, your networker must understand when it makes sense to bring you up in a conversation or email exchange.
This is where your clear, concise, memorable pocket resume mentality comes to play. Let’s assume a person named Clarence (I could of used Bob or Jane, but let’s just be different here.) is networking on your behalf. If your message isn’t clear, you’re out of luck. If Clarence gets your resume, looks it over, and after a few seconds is still thinking, “What does this guy do? I don’t get it.” You have a problem. Your message isn’t clear to him. Even if he’s dying to put you in front of his contacts, he won’t be sure how to do it. If he’s a busy person, he won’t have the time to learn more about you so you just blew the chance.
If you message is not concise and instead aims at covering too many potential positions, you have a similar problem. Suppose Clarence again takes the time to look over your resume and now thinks, “This guy’s been in accounting forever. He’s done receivables and payables. He could be a controller or an operations manager.” You have another problem. Will Clarence be comfortable recommending you for a book keeping job today and a controller position tomorrow? A voice in the back of his mind just might be saying, “One candidate willing to take a book keeping, controller, operations manager or maybe any job will do.” If something just doesn’t feel right to him, you blew another chance at getting your message circulated.
Finally, the message has to be memorable. Forget Clarence now, let’s use me. A lot of people reach out to me because they know I’ll put my network to work for them. Remembering a person’s message is especially difficult for me since I’m not a recruiter with a file written up on you. If your message is, “I’m a good, inexpensive masseuse.” I’ll remember it. Not only is it clear and concise, it’s certainly memorable for me. I don’t know too many people in this field.
However, since I’ve been in technology for so long, I get approached by a lot of candidates looking for tech jobs. Mentally I files these people under techie. That message makes it clear and concise for me, but what happens when I’ve got four or five of them in my head at the same time. I can’t distinguish between them. They aren’t memorable relative to each other.
Let me tell you how one of them can altar their message to help me out. If their message is, “I’m the Cisco engineers that worked 15 years at the same company,” I may just remember that. It distinguished him from the others. Right now, I’m helping a one network engineer in particular. He told me that until he finds his next job, he’s doing computer work for individuals and small business. He helped me define my mental picture of him. He’s the “One man Geek Squad.” I’ve referred him to a nonprofit wanting to expand their wireless network and he was top of mind when a recruiter called me looking for a candidate last week.
So how do we practically put this pocket resume mentality to work? To every job seeker that asks me, I recommend putting a three title headline in 14 point bold font near the top of their resume. The typical resume reviewer gives your resume an eight second scan before deciding if they want to read some more. If it takes them more than eight seconds to figure out your message, you’ve probably lost ‘em. The headline approach I recommend addresses that.
For example what does the following headline tell you, “Salesperson / Customer Service Specialist / Problem Solver.” Here’s another one, “Technology Leader / Programming Expert / Project Manager.” I may not be looking for one of these folks to fill a position, but I understand the message and remember it well enough to pass it along in networking situations. Here’s another one, “Communications, Marketing Major / Hard Worker / Internship Candidate.” If I’m looking for an intern, that may be all the information I need to convince me to carefully review the entire resume.
Taking a pocket resume mentality may be a challenge. You may not be accustomed to reducing all you can bring to a job to six or ten words. I’m not asking you to change who you are and especially not asking you to compromise yourself. I am recommending you take a pocket resume mentality and trim your message down so you can market yourself best to those that want to help you.