Resumes have been around for quite a while. In fact, we think that in 1482, Leonardo DiVinci wrote the first official “resume”/ “letter of introduction.” The letter began as follows:
“Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.
1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.”Source: Codex Atlanticus (Atlantic Codex)
While the language is much more formal than we use today, the structure of the content (i.e., demonstration of his skills) is quite familiar. Leonardo was marketing his skills to a potential employer. Resumes continue to be used to advertise the candidate’s ability to do the job that needs to be done. While the formality of the resume has lessened, there are still resume guidelines you should understand.
#1 Know where you are headed.
You cannot write an effective resume or have a successful job search without taking this first step. Start by:
Knowing what you want to do
What skills do you want to use?
What position(s) do you hope to attain?
Knowing where you want to work
Size of company
Understanding what the hiring manager needs…and demonstrating your accomplishments to prove you can do what they need you to do.
#2 Demonstrate your accomplishments.
Do not list the duties of past positions. Start by:
Identifying your accomplishments.
What did you do to move the business forward, address/solve critical problems, save money, generate revenue, etc.?
Articulating your accomplishments with concrete examples.
Using facts and figures
#3 Tailor your resume
You need to help the recruiter/hiring manager understand why you are a “good fit” for the position.
Focus on what the hiring manager needs, and show how your skills and accomplishments have prepared you to do the job.
#4 Think of your resume as a narrative.
Human beings relate to one another by telling stories
Your resume should tell a coherent…and interesting story.
You must engage your “audience”
#5 Carefully choose your words—especially your verbs.
For the past 4 years, LinkedIn has put together a list of the “10 Overused Words You Should Never Put of Your Resume.” The following is their 2013 list (from Inkd.in/buzzwords 2013):
None of these words are “bad,” however if you use them you run the risk of looking like everybody else. You want to stand out, and the way to do this is
to demonstrate your accomplishments, rather than simply describe them.
In future articles, I will share more ideas and guidelines for writing resumes.
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