Help Building Your Résumé

Some Concrete Exercises to Connect Your Résumé to Job Postings

Are you struggling with your résumé? I might be able to help you.

I’ve been a hiring manager. I’ve served on several hiring committees: For software developers, project managers, and community managers. I’m currently collaborating with a committee to write a hiring process runbook and share some tools I’ve developed.

Which is to say, I’ve seen a lot of résumés and want to share my insights into the hiring processes in which I’ve participated.

I wish I could say “Do these things and you’ll get the job.” But hiring is an imprecise thing; it’s a bit like the lottery.

However, there are things you can do to help improve your chances. One of those is spending time on your résumé.

Exercises

The goal of these exercises is to ensure your résumé communicates who you are; your unique knowledge, skills, and abilities. Your résumé should be having a conversation with the job postings.

Below are some exercises to work on your résumé.

I’ve framed these as writing exercises. Why? Because your résumé and cover letter are often in written form. Practice that. But if it’s easier for you to record your exercises, do that.

Also, in all of this, I’m not going to recommend a format or style for your résumé. That’s a decision for you.

The goal is for your résumé to convey your knowledge, skills, and abilities. To help any reviewer begin to form ideas of how your knowledge, skills, and abilities map to the job posting.

My résumé, for example, is text-based with headings, short sentences, bullet points, and some bold text.

Review a Few Job Postings

Find 3 to 7 job postings in your field:

  1. With one color, highlight what resonates with you
  2. With another color, highlight what gives you pause

What is it about those highlighted sections? Dig into this a bit.

Write About Your Talents

Let’s investigate your talents. This is not your skills nor even your experience with tools. It’s identifying what comes easy for you.

And one way is to find that is to reflect on those moments when you might say to yourself “This is so easy, I don’t understand why others don’t get it.”

Somewhere, perhaps, in that moment you’ve identified a super power of yours. Something that doesn’t come as easily for others as it comes for you.

Take a moment to reflect on these questions.

  • What comes easy for you?
  • What frustrates you when other people try to do things that you’re good at?
  • What kind of problems do you find yourself naturally solving?

Spend a bit of time on this.

Examples of Problems You’ve Solved

For each of your talents, write or sketch an example of a problem you’ve solved.

When solving those problems, what tools did you use? What training? What did the process look like?

Connect Talents to Postings

Go back to those job postings. How do your talents address what resonated with you? What about those examples? Anything connections there?

Look over those things that gave you pause, what are your thoughts about those? Do they hint at something that doesn’t come naturally?

Review (or Make) Your Résumé

If you don’t have one, it’s time to write one.

Right now, don’t worry about the style. Spend your energy on the content. Write up on outline.

You need the basic information:

  • Name and contact information
  • Your work history and timeline (include volunteering)
  • Your relevant skills
  • Your relevant certifications
  • Your degrees and any credentials

In your work history, make sure to capture:

  • Projects
  • Collaborations
  • Tasks
  • Budgets (if you were in charge of any of this)
  • Quantitative improvements
  • Teams
  • Initiatives you took
  • Problems you solved

This is an outline and rough draft. Don’t self-edit. Get it all on paper.

Did you get it all on paper?

Okay, now let’s review what you have.

From the above exercises, what’s missing from your résumé?

How does your résumé address what resonated with you? Refine those points on your résumé that supports the resonating points.

Tell Someone About Each Line of Your Résumé

Now, grab a voice recorder. For each line of your résumé, record yourself talking about it.

If all goes well, you’ll be talking about your résumé with a hiring manager. Consider this recording a first rehearsal. Don’t worry about getting it right, a stream of consciousness is better than self-editing.

Review the recording. Are there things you mentioned in your recording that aren’t evident on your résumé? Especially anything that addresses what you highlighted.

Refine, Edit, Review

You’ve done the hard work, now’s time to apply the polish. Edit, refine, and review your résumé.

One bit of advice, before you spend time on the format, ask your friends to review the content. Talk with them about the kinds of jobs you’re looking to get. Talk about what excites you about those jobs. Does your résumé convey that excitement?

Then ask them to review it.

A Manager’s Perspective

When I start reviewing applicants for a job posting, the hiring committee and I are processing a lot of résumés and cover letters.

For myself, I read each of them. And I appreciate a concise résumé; two pages or less. Some résumés look quite a bit different. They might stand out but may be more difficult to map to the job posting.

Every hiring committee is looking for the people, by way of their résumés, who meet the job requirements. Those that do move through the hiring process.

And let me be clear, these are my experiences in the hiring process. I don’t know a lot about other hiring processes, but the résumé is a common interface for hiring processes.

Need More Help?

I offer this up to the world as one of many approaches to crafting a résumé. My hope is that you’re able to glean something useful from this process.

The above process is a natural refinement of the process I’ve used when mentoring and coaching people looking to shift into a career in technology. The process, however, is not specific to technology.

If you found this helpful, please and let me know.

If you’d like more help, I’m also available for consultation.

For $300$175 United States dollar (USD 📖) I will:

  • Review and provide one round of written feedback on your résumé.
  • Meet, via video conference, for a 45+ minute to provide a final round of feedback.

Please if this is a way that I can help.