Look Forward in Your Resume

Posted May 24, 2013
By Clay Cerny

I’m reading a book on career management that dismisses resumes as “historical.”  While it’s true that resumes summarize work history, their more important function is forward looking – to show why you are qualified for the kind of job you want, not the one you are leaving.

Many of the clients that ask me to review resumes fall into the historical trap.  They focus on their most recent jobs and are very detailed in discussing that job.  Being overly specific often makes it hard for an employer to see how a candidate fits their needs.  This problem is even worse when a job seeker uses the language of her old company, language that only someone who works for that company would understand.

I frequently recommend that clients find 5-10 job posts and send them to me.  I review them to understand the requirements and skills employers are looking for.  I also track the repeated “key words” that are so important.  By looking at these documents, I am able to focus the resume on the jobs my clients will apply for.

The key to a successful job search is to keep looking forward.  You should only discuss your past to the degree that it shows how you are qualified for your next job or career move.  In writing your resume and interviewing for jobs, keep your focus on what your next employer needs.  It’s all about the future – and finding a better job.