The Branding Samurai

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Our Thoughts on Improving the Resume (part two)

As we said in our previous post, When a potential employer looks at a resume, they are looking at a snapshot of the things you have done in the past and trying to make a judgment about your future and if it should be with their company. We propose that a resume should also be a testament to where you are going. Currently the resume uses the objective to accomplish this, but as far as we can tell most of the objectives that are written are completely useless.

Here are the portions of a resume and how we think they should be utilized.

Education:
If you have a formal education you should list it here, but what you should really be highlighting is the things you have done to continue your education after your formal schooling. We like books and a lot of our employees read frequently to increase their knowledge in the areas of their choice. Some people like to take classes. Whatever you are doing, let your future employer know how you are continuing to educate yourself. List the important books you have read. List the classes you have taken. List the relevant things you are doing to make yourself better.

Experience: Work and Volunteer History:
This is where you list the list of things you are doing with your time. You could have been going to school full time, or you could have been working at the gas station. What an employer is looking for here is the type of experience you have so they can determine if you are a good fit for their needs. If your experience doesn’t match up with your education, there should be a good reason why. Once again, this doesn’t have to be limited to the things you have done to make money. You may be amazing at fundraising for your favorite non profit, a skill that is very valuable and most likely doesn’t pay. Putting this at the bottom of your resume or leaving it out all together leaves out a very important part of information about yourself.

Skills:
From your education and your experience comes your skills. The first thing you should know is that in this list, and probably at the top of it, should be “easily learns new skills quickly and is willing to do so”. Why should this be there? As your job grows and the world grows you will most likely need to grow. An employer hates having to find someone new when they like the people they are already working with. If you have a great team today, that team needs to grow with the marketplace. If the rest of the team grows and you don’t, you could be left behind. So make sure you are willing to grow and your future employer knows it.

That said, your skills should be the product of your education and experience. Most people list here the types of software they know how to use (and some that they don’t) and that is all fine and dandy but we recommend breaking these out into three categories: Ones that are required for the job, ones that are above and beyond and skills that aren’t relevant to the job at all. We feel the most aware of your skills you are the better and listing them all honestly will let your future employer know you are honest with yourself about your abilities.

A note about backing up your claims:
We have to say one thing about backing up your claims. If you have a skill that has to be seen to be believed (like breaking boards with your forehead) and that skill is needed to get the job, then you should attach proof of that skill to your resume, or at least leave instructions as to where that proof can be found. In the creative world this is called a portfolio. You can look at our’s here. You don’t have to prove every skill, but make sure you back up your claims when it depends on you getting the job or not.

My Social Accounts:
Here is one that is not traditional, but we feel is a good addition for the future. Most people who are up with the times have social media accounts and most employers who are up with the times are trying to find yours and look at pictures of you out partying with your friends. To save them time, make sure your public presence is readily listed on your resume. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever you use. Even if your accounts are all listed as private, let them know where they can find you. There are a few reasons for this:
1. That way they actually find you, not the other party animal with your name.
2. An employer can see how you act in public and know if you are an asset or a liability. If a company has 10 employees, then you are a good percentage of the face of that company. If you list yourself as employed at Company X, then you are contributing to the social media brand of that company. A good company will want to make sure you aren’t going to make them look foolish on the internet.

References:
Here is our beef with references: people can’t really say anything negative about you and you wouldn’t really list people who would say something negative about you so this section is useless UNLESS you have a large amount of people here. Let’s say that number is 10 and the title of the section is: Here are 10 people that will say that I am awesome. Also, make sure the people you list are relevant to what they are saying about you. Your friend Chuck will say you are an awesome computer programmer, but unless he has used you for a huge project or works in the industry he is probably useless as a reference.

To sum things up, your resume is a list of your education, experience, skills with a little bit of social proof to back that up. Our last point is transparency. We feel that the more honest you are about who you are, the more likely you are to get a job that you like. If you are going to have a core value conflict with your employer then its better to know that up front. Don’t apply at places that you would hate working and be open enough with your resume so that your employer doesn’t have to hire you if they won’t like you. We realize that its against the law to discriminate based upon creed and what not, but thats not your problem. The reality is people judge others for stupid reasons. If you let people know the truth up front, you can avoid people trying to back out of a decision because they are biased. Just be honest about who you are and the rest will take care of itself.

Lastly, this is not a resume designed to make you look better than you are. If you are lame, this resume will be lame, so make sure you are awesome and this resume will get you a job. Need to make it look better? Check out this article on fontografist about designing your resume.

Benjamin Collins

Benjamin Collins

Benjamin Collins is the President and Co-Founder of Laughing Samurai. A perpetual optimist, an aspiring yogi and a postmodern family man, Benjamin is all about connecting the people and ideas that make things awesome. If you'd like to contact him, you can do so via our contact page or read his blog: extremecollins.com

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