I often meet with recent grads to review their resumes. Usually, they start with some kind of apology about how bad it is.
Maybe it’s not THAT bad. But for whatever reason they lack confidence in the piece of paper they’re carrying around intended to convince someone to hire them. The bottom line is if YOU don’t feel good about that piece of paper, no hiring manager will either.
Here are my observations about what’s giving you bashful resume syndrome.
1. You wrote it yourself.
Sometimes the hardest story to tell is your own. Writing your own resume is hard for most experienced adults! You have the added challenge of learning who you are first, and then putting it on paper. No small feat for recent grads. Usually what I see are resumes that either include everything but the kitchen sink, or barely anything that’s employer-worthy.
What you can do:
- Even if you draft your resume, have some others look it over for you. Use your career center contacts or the myriad resources on-line to get a sense for what employers are looking for.
- If you know someone in the HR or recruiting business, ask them to look it over and give you feedback.
- Hire a professional to help your craft a clear and precise statement about who you are, and your value proposition to an employer.
- Whatever path you choose, remember that your resume is the foundation for ALL of your job search marketing materials. Even if you don’t actually “print” the paper out.
2. It doesn’t tell your story well.
It may be hard to tell your story. You don’t have that level of self-awareness that comes with age and experience. As a recent grad it may be hard to articulate what you have to offer.
Many recent grads underestimate, and under value, their prior experiences. If so, it will be hard for you to feel confident about what you’re putting on paper.
What you can do:
- Start building your self-knowledge database. Invest in self-assessments to get an idea for your strengths. You can start with Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder 2.0 or Emotional Intelligence 2.0. There are also many online self-assessment resources that are low-cost, or free.
- Find 10 or 15 people who know you well. Ask them to share their perceptions of your strengths and qualities.
- Look at your school, work, athlete or internship experiences. Make a list of everything you accomplished. Then identify the skills you have that made those achievements possible. Ask some others to give you feedback on what you come up with.
- What do people always come to you and ask you for help with? Often that’s a key indicator of core competencies that you have.
3. It’s more than one page.
Usually this is because you aren’t clear enough about your message to boil it down to one page. When you’re clear on your core message, it will easily fit. Remember a resume’s intent is to get you an interview. You want employers to think you are interesting enough to bring in for a conversation. It does not need to tell your whole life story.
What you can do:
- Create a one page template that you can customize to the different jobs you’ll apply for.
- Create sections for core competencies, key accomplishments, work experience, and education. Keep it simple.
- Once you’re clear on your marketing messages, using some of the ideas above, experiment with composing each section.
- Edit for clarity and brevity. You don’t need to list references or every community college you attended.
Do me a favor, and leave a comment below. What’s been holding you back on your “resume confidence” and what steps will you take to resolve that?