Using A Smart Resume In Career Transition

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS
In the last newsletter, I spoke about things to consider in getting ready for the fall hiring season. Included in this was a reference to reviewing and refreshing your resume. I often have clients ask me questions about their resume as they embark on their career campaign. Oftentimes, their resume just needs a freshening. Sometimes it is a change in format. Other times, they need to update their most recent job experience. However, in some instances, a complete makeover is in order. Since the resume is the first contact with many hiring decision makers, it is important to distinguish yourself in a way that shows that you are the person to solve the company’s needs. How do you do that when there are so many resumes being reviewed by computer filters, HR people, and recruiters? A new perspective was presented by Peter Weddle in his recent article discussing “The Smart Resume,” Newsletter dated September 22, 2011. Peter Weddle is one of the foremost researchers and authors who has published various guides to help those in career transition as well as recruiters and HR managers.

According to Weddle, employers are in search of top performers who can solve the company’s problems. Taking the fact that you are “state-of-the-art” in your field as a given, you need to distinguish yourself by using what he calls a “Smart Resume.” This type of a resume reflects the fact that as a person and employee, you are evolving. Peter Weddle refers to this as showing you are a “work-in-progress.” This shows an employer that you are working on your skills even though you are in transition. In addition, if you have added new expertise to your portfolio, it shows you as what Weddle calls a “learner-contributor.” These types of employees want to “know more in order to do more and do it better.”

Citing a survey conducted by SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, Weddle contrasts the fact that “before the recession, 61 percent of employers were paying hiring bonuses to lure smart workers in the door. In 2008, in the heart of the deepest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, that figure had increased to 70 percent. Similarly, in 2004, 27 percent of employers were paying retention bonuses to hang onto their smart workers, and in 2008, that number had grown to 38 percent of employers.”

Weddle explains that employers are using hiring and retention bonuses “because they believe those workers are in short supply… Because smart workers are hard to identify.”

So, how do you show you are a smart employee worthy of that coveted position? Weddle says this can be done by using a “Smart Resume.” These resumes have two characteristics which set them apart from the pack. Weaving this information into the fabric of your resume can help set you apart and show an employer to fill the spot.

The first distinguishing trait can be included in the section containing your work experience. After listing the different duties of your prior positions as well as your accomplishments, Weddle recommends including a segment entitled “What I learned.” In a short, tight couple of lines, convey to the employer the “knowledge, insights and wisdom” that you learned in the position. Reflect how you “grew and developed on-the-job.”

The second distinguishing trait identifies the ways in which you have sought to grow and improve through additional education in the form of courses or training. Highlight the fact that you are continuing to grow as a person and employee. If you took an Excel class, include it. If you became a member of a professional organization that relates to your occupational, be certain to add it in.

The last point that Weddle makes, is that since resumes are reviewed in a few seconds, it is important to include the fact that you are a smart employee by writing it out in the summary at the top of your resume. He suggests something such as “An inquiring mind that is always learning.” Find your own way of showing your ongoing commitment to your development. Let a potential employer see that you are the “Smart Employee” that will help move the company forward.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if this helped you. As always, if you need help in search, please feel free to contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

Every success,

– Linda

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