Write Your Resume to the Future, Not the Past

March 20, 2017

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in composing your resume is to let your past drive the focus of the content. While a resume covers what we have done, proper perspective in using this information is key. Let your career goal, as it relates to the future you want, guide what you choose to include. You can help employers see you as a qualified candidate if you can clearly show them the relevance of your background to their needs. 

If you are looking to change your career or industry, be sure to research the new area as thoroughly as possible through job postings and career exploration sites such as American’s Career InfoNet http://www.careerinfonet.org/. You should be able to determine if you need training to get you up to speed. If it appears you do not need training, utilize a concise but strong summary and keyword section to position the change you are making in terms of why you would be successful. Do not include information that would be irrelevant in the experience section, but instead focus on the responsibilities and especially achievements that highlight strengths as could be seen as relating to this new area. Functional resume formats are often recommended for career changers, but be careful. In today’s highly competitive job market, functional resumes are often viewed with suspicion by recruiters and cast aside. Applicant tracking systems also find this format difficult to navigate.

 

 A better option would be a chronological - functional hybrid, in which key skill categories are used within the most recent experience descriptions to organize major responsibilities and achievements as relevant to the new area.

If you are staying within the same career and industry, always focus more of the content on the achievements that you feel will impress potential employers, providing context and quantifying wherever possible to easily illustrate your value.

Finally, it is critical to stay on top of new developments in the field through continuing your education, earning certifications, joining professional associations, etc. Be sure to make this evident on the resume. Also, don’t forget to show that you keep up with societal trends by developing and maintaining your LinkedIn Profile connections and groups. Including the URL of a well-developed profile in your contact information indicates that you are a person with a healthy, active career and not stagnating in the past.

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