Building Your Resume

You’ve probably heard the phrase “building your resume”. Ever wondered what it means? Ever wonder if you are doing it right? I did.

So I asked a few career professionals from the education, finance, HR and marketing fields. Here’s what they told me when I asked them to complete the sentence “Buidling your resume means…”

Education Pro: Showing a history of skilled acquired and experiences gained through both work and higher education in order to advance in your career

Finance Pro: Being able to show that you have work experience that is relevant to the new job you are trying to get. If you are trying to get promoted, you want to show that you’ve mastered all of the skills in the lower level job and are ready to take on more–a larger scope of responsibilities, a greater budget, etc.
HR Pro: Demonstrating a history of doing a certain kind of work and specialized skills, holding recognized certifications, being associated with professional organizations and/or with top employers
Marketing Pro: Creating a resume that is filled with examples of top-quality work with top-tier firms, if possible; getting on boards or being involved in organizations within your chosen field; having impressive references; taking on projects or outside activities that will impress prospective employers

I think all of these are correct. I personally would describe “resume-building” in the same way that my marketing friend did. I’ve spent a lot of time building my own resume in this way–taking only jobs with Fortune 500 firms, taking only jobs with a title of Director or above, taking jobs that give me a profile within the company, taking on unpaid speaking engagements, joining professional associations, trying to get myself onto the boards of nonprofit organizations.

What’s the point? The point of resume-building is that it should be a part of any career planning effort. If it is your goal to get to the top of your chosen field, or even to break into your chosen field, you should focus on building your resume.

Take the advice of my friends above, and use these tips:

1. Pinpoint your career goal(s)

2. Figure out how far you want to go (Manager, VP or CFO?)

3. Identify the companies that hire folks in your chosen field

4. Search current job openings, reading the job descriptions and noting the education, certifications skills, experience required

5. Update your resume as a way of reviewing your work history and inventorying your work experience, skills, etc.–Do you already have what’s required to get your dream job? If not, what are you missing?

6. Build-A-Resume:

If you are missing experience, skills, education or certifications, set your sites on opportunities to get gain those skills, experiences, etc.–

  • Target a lower-level position
  • Take on a new responsibility in your current job (gain experience via on-the-job-training)
  • Take a few classes or get a degree
  • Get certified by whatever certifying body is most recognized in your field)
  • Volunteer to take on a certain role in a nonprofit, a startup or small business
  • Join professional associations and take on an active role (Board member, committee chair, project lead)

Once you’ve built this amazing resume, don’t make the mistake of submitting a poorly written resume. You want to write a resume that highlights and emphasizes what you’ve built. Get help with your resume if you need it.

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