Two New Steps To A Painless Resume

by: Joanne Meehl

A client I'll call Jake called me about updating his resume. He still liked his job, but a networking contact called about an opening that Jake would be perfect for. Seeing the full job description, Jake decided to send his resume.

He said "My first thought was 'Oh no, now I have to update my resume, what a pain'." He added, "Then I opened it and found I had very little to do except to update it with my latest position, update the key words, and highlight key words for this new opening!" Then he said "When you worked with me on my resume three years ago, I had no idea that it would be so painless to update. Wow!"

Why could Jake say that? Because when he and I redid his resume three years ago, we added two sections not always found on resumes, sections that tell the reader about Jake and what he offers. Those are all classic things about him. Sure, his jobs will change, but he will pretty much be the professional he is now.

Who is that person? Someone who gives companies value by being a technology leader, by testing and then adopting new technologies. New technologies that save a company a ton of money and time (which is money). The technologies may change, but Jake is always there to learn about them AND use them before anyone else. That won't change about him.

When I say two "sections", what I do mean? The first, at the top of his resume, is a professional Summary. I do not use "Objectives", and all the reasons why are in this blog entry of January 2010. Also, a Professional Summary is NOT a listing of your skills. Instead, it's short, punchy phrases about you. In Jake's case, here are a couple: Early adopter of useful new technologies. And Enterprise-wide consultant who quickly gets users on board. Wherever Jake is, he will always be doing those two things, and more. Like Jake, taking this step on your resume will make it so much easier to update yours as you use it.

Note that those are not empty phrases like "Goals-driven sales rep" - if you're in sales I sure HOPE you're goals-driven! Don't waste that expensive resume real estate by stating the obvious. Or in puffery like "Seeking challenging position in a growing company blah blah blah", which no one reads any more.

Rather, do what Jake does. Tell the reader that which is classically true about you, from job to job, changing over the years to who you are - and what you have to offer today.

The second "section", or step to having a resume that's painless to update, is the Strengths section. I don't mean StrengthsFinder strengths, which when plopped onto a resume look silly to me (my preference: weave those words into your narrative, if they're that telling about you). By "Strengths" I also don't mean "Skills". Instead, I mean skills that you have used AND with which you have generated successes. By "successes", we mean making or saving money for your organization. These are more specific than what you have in your Professional Summary, and they should include key words of your field.

So Jake's strengths include "Current versions of x, y and z programming languages". And "Tapped to be speaker at leading conferences". Both help him do his job and make his company look good.

For Tanika, who is the VP of Marketing at a resort, her strengths include "Highly connected with wedding planners", and "Cited as expert by all leading society magazines".

For Jason, a budding New Media guru, his include "Social Media addict" and "Seeks out newest marketing technologies".

What are you saying about you?

Your resume will certainly change over time. But focus on what's classic for you, what makes you successful over and over again, and when you need to update it, you won't be in pain.


Is your resume landing you interviews? Make it happen: contact Joanne at


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