Effective Resumes

It’s hard to believe it was almost twenty years ago that Jack Tirrel approached me.  I had submitted my resume to the search committee at the church we attended in Tucson, Arizona. The church was running 800 – 850 in attendance each Sunday and had been fortunate enough to enjoy volunteer music and worship leadership to that point.  The time had come, though, to call their first full time worship pastor and I had been working part-time to help put the infra-structure in place.  Jack was maybe 5’5″, salt and pepper hair.  I nearly always saw him in a suit.  Everything about him exuded professionalism, dignity and class.

“Phil, I’m on the search committee, as you may know, and I saw your resume the other night.  Is that the one you’re submitting to churches?”

“Yes, it is.”

He tried to conceal a smile but a little bit sneaked through anyway.  “I do this for a living and I’d like to help you craft a very strong resume’ – gratis.”

I knew The Jethro Consultancy had a good reputation so I quickly agreed.

“If I help you will you promise me one thing?”

“I’ll certainly consider it,”  I responded.
(I’m not one for making promises before I know what’s involved.)

THEN he smiled. “Will you promise never to send that one – anywhere – ever again?”

” No problem! It’s that bad, hmm?” We had a good laugh and then he went on.

“By the standards of a few years ago, no.  But if you’re good at what you do, you don’t have to do resume’s very often.  And things can change between last time and this.”  He went on to explain that many experienced professionals feel like resume rookies if it’s been a while since their last job search, and that’s why he offered to help me.  My two previous positions had come as the result of personal networking so my resume followed my reputation.  He was right.  It wasn’t very good. Not at all.

Jack showed me how to craft a targeted resume to increase the chances of mine floating to the top of the stack. He explained that I could be competing with a couple dozen candidates and my resume would say a lot about me even before they’d talked to me on the phone or met me in person.   Twenty years ago “a couple dozen” was accurate.  Today it’s more.  It’s not surprising nowadays to discover that hundreds of people have submitted resumes for the position you’re interested in.  Electronic submission and internet job postings have taken the job search to yet another level.

And things have changed again.  A targeted resume isn’t the only answer in today’s market. I still prefer it; it has some advantages, but it’s not the only format, and it’s not necessarily the best for your search.

Alison Doyle has written a great summary of today’s resume formats. It’s worth taking the time to know the distinctives of each and adjust accordingly.
If the link gives you trouble, copy and paste this link into your browser:

It’s always changing, this job market, and these days it seems there’s plenty of competition for the available jobs.  The competition can be from several states away, thanks to the internet.

There will be days you feel you’re spending way-too-much time crafting a document designed to get you noticed.  All this effort, for thirty-seconds and a second look?  Is it worth it?

When I feel that way I remind myself that if 30-seconds reading my resume’ opens the door to something I’ll do for several years,
something I’m good at and enjoy,
something that helps me provide for my family,
you BET it’s worth the effort.

Stay teachable, stay current, do good work, even on your resume —especially on your resume. You’ll never regret it.

One Reply to “Effective Resumes”

  1. Phil

    This PS from an E-mail newsletter (ChristianJobs.com) —

    Sure, a good résumé is key to getting your foot in the door for a job interview. But this isn’t where the résumé’s work ends! Employers often use a resume as a guide for an interview. Therefore, make sure the content of your resume will give a good impression when you are sitting face-to-face with a prospective employer. Also, know the content well so you are confident in discussing it. For instance, if you list your responsibilities and accomplishments at a previous job, be sure that you are prepared to discuss each item if the employer asks. Lastly, do make sure, with no exception, that the content on your résumé is accurate and truthful. Taking each of these steps will help build your confidence for your interview.

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