You’re considering hiring a professional executive resume writing service.
Maybe a headhunter contacting you about an interesting job opportunity you want to go for. Maybe you just found out your position is being eliminated. Or maybe you just want to keep your options option in a dynamic job market.
The very idea of starting a resume can create feelings of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. In this post, I’ll outline some techniques to reduce your stress. Even if you don’t hire a professional to write your resume, these can help you do it yourself.
Why is Writing a Resume So Stressful? And Do I Really Need to Hire a Professional Executive Resume Writing Service?
One of the biggest reasons, according to my executive resume writing clients, is that it’s difficult and stressful to remember and compile all the relevant details.
- Exactly what month did you start work at Company X?
- Was that consulting gig before or after the job at the startup?
- What did you really get accomplished during those six years you worked at ABC Company, and what was the title you held before that last promotion?
- What was the technology stack at your first job out of college? Python yes, but what else
- Speaking of education, what are the details about the various professional development courses you’ve taken along the way?
It’s enough to make you want to procrastinate ever getting started, either writing it yourself, or getting all the relevant info together to give to a professional résumé writer.
That challenge is often made worse by the time pressure that people often find themselves under when they need to have a résumé prepared. Maybe you just got laid off unexpectedly and you can’t afford to be unemployed very long. Or maybe you’re content enough at your job and haven’t given any thought to having a résumé, but then an old colleague pings you about a really exciting opportunity that’s your dream job. You need a résumé, and fast.
Content is Key in Resume Writing. Focus on Accomplishments.
But there’s hope. You can do it yourself, if you’re so inclined.
You’ve probably heard the cliché (but true all the same) that you want your resume to list accomplishments, not just responsibilities. In other words, what did you actually contribute to each of the roles you’ve held, not just what were the job duties?
This is key, and makes a great deal of difference in how highly-ranked your résumé will be, and how effective it will be in getting you interviews.
That’s the approach taken by all the best professional executive resume writing services.
But when you’re trying to put the résumé together, it is often very difficult to come up with the most effective and high-impact accomplishments on the fly. It’s bad enough for each individual position, but then you are probably going to need to come up with your three or four greatest accomplishment across your entire career? Very easy to forget important details, or to omit certain triumphs completely. You need a way to have all the relevant stuff handy at your fingertips.
The Solution: Keep Current with a “Career Vault”
The answer is to build and add to a running chronological list of all the things that have happened in your career. It will contain specific details about college and the other education you’ve had, the places you’ve worked and when you worked there, what your roles have been, and all the things you’ve worked on in those roles. You can call it a list, a log, or an inventory, but a good term that I’ve heard used by other professional resume writers for executives is a career vault.
This sounds great, you say, but how do I start? I’ve already been working for ten years, and I’ve never done this before.
Just start. Even if you only have five minutes today, just start with a file on your computer, a clean sheet of paper, or a stack of index cards (index cards are quite old school, but can be very handy for visually reordering and re-prioritizing as you go.) Definitely don’t even think about perfection, or even completeness, but don’t put off doing it a moment longer.
Building the Skeleton
The very first thing you’ll be shooting for is to gradually build a skeletal timeline of all the things that have happened to you since, say, graduating from high school. Try to stick to basic facts at this point. What happened first? What happened next? Did you go to college? Straight into work? Start listing places you’ve worked or studied, and start trying to get them into order (you can consider different positions within the same company as you would different jobs.)
Don’t worry yet about the dates. Just see if you can build an uninterrupted time flow up to the present. Remember to account for gaps that may have occurred for various reasons, such as leaving the workforce to raise a family, take care of an elderly relative, or go back to school. Also list periods of unemployment.
Once again, don’t feel like you have to do this in one sitting. You can work on it piecemeal, as you have the time. It is a good idea, however, to try and sit with it regularly, even if you can only manage a few minutes a week. Fifteen minutes every Saturday, or ten minutes every day on your subway commute, means that in two or three months you could have the basic content of a résumé compiled. Keep going, and eventually you’ll have it together.
Flesh Out Dates and Details
Once you have constructed your career timeline, go back and try to reconstruct all the dates. It’s best if you can narrow it down to the specific months of job, education, and gap starts and ends, not just the years. You may need to consult your bank statements, or see if you can brainstorm with a significant other to remember. Not absolutely essential to have the months, but in general, a good idea. At this stage, more information is better. You are going to distill it down later.
Now that you have an outline, start writing down what kinds of things you were doing at each place. You don’t need to get into a deep level of detail yet. You don’t even need complete sentences, or have to feel like it’s got to look anything like a résumé. But be sure you put down enough details and facts that you’ll be able to remember the whole story if you’re looking at the entry a few years from now, or else you’ll be defeating the purpose of this whole exercise.
Approach it Like a Professional Executive Resume Writing Service Would. Some Thinking Prompts to Help You Remember
- Projects you worked on or led
- Objectives you were working toward achieving
- Details about the team you were part of (team size, team objective/mission, your role within it, budget)
- Promotions, awards, and recognition you received
- Patents, presentations, publications
- Courses taken or taught
- Challenges overcome or failures learned from
- People that were around you (helpful to make more LinkedIn connections, or use as references if required later in the job search)
- Money saved, efficiency increased, processes improved
- Others you managed, led, or mentored
- Partnerships, mergers or acquisitions you were involved with
Your Career Vault as a Living Document
If you keep working on it, eventually you’ll get up to the present day. Now it becomes more a matter of keeping it up to date, which requires much less work. Every time something new happens to you, simply add a few notes about it to the tail end of your career vault. You may also find, if you review your vault regularly, that an entry will catch your eye and spur you to remember more detail, or perhaps even other forgotten experiences that need to be added.
At some point, you may wish to turn your vault into a résumé on your own, or maybe you give the info to a professional executive resume writing service, who will generate a great résumé and LinkedIn profile for you. Chances are good that you or the writer is not going to want to list everything that you’ve got in your vault, but it’s much easier and more effective to take a big list and distill it down to the most effective and potent material than it is to try and build up from scratch.
Phil Hurd, NCRW, CPRW, NCOPE is a leading technology industry recruiter and specializes in writing résumés, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, and bios for technology people: executives, managers, individual contributors in software, information technology, engineering of all kinds, marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance, and more.
If you need help from a nationally certified professional executive resume writing service to create your own personal marketing documents, please book a free consultation call to discuss your project with Phil by clicking this link: https://catalystresumes.as.me/20minuteconsult