Who am I? No, this isn't a philosophy lesson on existentialism or an exercise in exploring deep universal truths. Nonetheless, that particular question is critical for job seekers to ask themselves before starting to write a résumé. A common error that job seekers make in crafting a résumé is failing to create a cohesive picture of who they are as prospective employees or team members.
Many job seekers think of the résumé as a replacement for a job application. They end up simply listing and describing each of the jobs they have worked, recounting their duties and responsibilities without considering their overall career objective. As a result, the résumé ends up being a disjointed 'laundry list' of details that leave the hiring manager unimpressed. A résumé should be considered a marketing tool, and as such, it must convey to the hiring manager what a candidate can offer the organization that is unique. Skill sets come a dime a dozen; many who apply for a job will have similar knowledge, skills, and abilities. What makes a candidate competitive is what he or she brings to the table that no one else can offer. At the end of the day, a potential employer wants to know 'who you are.'
In his bestselling What Color Is Your Parachute? Richard N. Bolles takes job-hunters and career-changers through a series of exercises designed to help them identify and describe their unique strengths. From identifying their passions to determining where they want to live, job seekers are encouraged to delve into all areas of their lives to uncover what really makes them tick. Career changers begin to take a fresh look at transferable skills. Qualities such as creativity, resourcefulness, and tenacity begin to take on value as attractive soft skills. Fun and engaging, the exercises truly help individuals determine their best path for pursuing their careers.
Armed with this information and a sense of well-being and confidence that comes from starting to truly understand oneself, career seekers can approach the writing of the résumé from a place of authenticity. Writing a solid Professional Summary becomes easier. The entire document becomes more focused on what matters, and that is the job seeker. The ultimate purpose of the résumé goes far beyond presenting employment history. A good résumé tells the story of a job seeker and a brilliant career.