Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Over Resume Hate

I hate writing resumes.

It’s a pain. There is nothing fun about it. It takes a large amount of time, mental and psychological commitment, and frankly, it’s hard to produce a quality product. And if you’re anything like me, or 99% of the rest of the world, you hate writing resumes too. Even the hiring manager receiving your resume hates writing resumes.

It’s hard to write a resume. Not just because it’s difficult to write clearly and persuasively.  Or concisely. Or because you’ve done so much you don’t want to leave anything out. Or because you feel you’ve done so little that you have nothing worthwhile to say. Those are all true and relevant, but none are the real reason for why writing a resume is so difficult.

It’s because it matters.

A resume is your introduction. Your first hello. It is the one and only time where you have complete control over how another person views you. Up until you get an interview, you’re not a person, just a resume.

And that’s a heckuva scary thought.

Especially when you are in an active job search and it’s a bad economy. And it’s because it matters so much that so many of us have such difficulty sitting down and writing a resume. The pressure to do great work is heavy and cumbersome.

So how do you get over your resume hate?

1. Your resume is not who you are.
Your resume is not your life story. The contents of your resume are not your identity. Your self-worth is not tied to your previous or current jobs.

We are trained from birth to see the people as job titles. It’s the second question we ask when we meet someone new – “what do you do?” This Pavlovian training is part of what makes it so hard to be out of work; being jobless makes us feel valueless. And it’s wrong.

The first trick is to completely forget that nonsense. A job is just a job. It’s what you do to pay the bills. Your self-worth is better determined by how you treat your family than what job you do. Easier said than done. Still, you have to always try to remember that your job is not your life and a resume is just a piece of paper.

2. The readers don’t care that much. 
That person reading your resume is not reading it carefully. They’re glancing at it – giving it a quick read before making a decision. Those sentences you’ve spent hours perfectly crafting; they’re barely being looked at. So don’t sweat it so much. It’s much more important to facilitate a quick decision via a professional headline than it is to make sure your 4th bullet on your 3rd most recent job is a grammatical gem.

Someone in the comments below is going to tell you I’m wrong. A professional resume writer is going to take exception to this. Unfortunately, there are mountains of empirical and anecdotal evidence that demonstrate that this I’m right. In studies run by TheLadders, recruiters were spending a total of 6 seconds looking at your resume.

3. Write like a reader.
The main trick to getting over your resume writing hate is to forget about your personal needs, and write a reader focused resume. By thinking about what the reader needs to see versus what you need to say, you’re taking the pressure off yourself. You’re not selling yourself on the resume; you’re selling a productized candidate. Externalizing yourself and your experience makes it exponentially easier to write a resume. You’re not losing a bit of yourself by deleting that experience; you are only refining the sales pitch. Just like point 1 above, your resume writing is not going to be successful until you can take your self-worth out of the mix.

Will incorporating all these tips really get your over the ‘resume hate’ bump? Probably not.
I’ve written literally hundreds of resumes and it’s still not something I always love doing (I often do love it, but I’m a weirdo). However, I hope that if you can incorporate a small bit of the advice in these tips, it will reduce your job search hate just a little. And just a little is totally worth it.

By Sean Weinberg