Copyrightę 1997 - 2011, Pam Pohly, All Rights Reserved.
Build a Powerful Resume that Matches Your Qualifications
This is an important aspect of your resume. While your resume is not the primary document where you state your career aspirations (your career goal or employment aspiration should be stated in your cover letter), there needs to be congruency between the jobs you have held, how they are described, and the job you are applying for.
For example, if you are applying for a finance director role and have never been a finance director, don't make your job as bookkeeper sound like a finance director role. Instead, be honest about your previous roles while also highlighting the increases of responsibilities you have acquired and the on-the-job training or assignments you have had.
Many sincere, but naive, job hunters seem to think that by stating that they want a particular position that this is sufficient proof that they should be considered for that position. The fact that you state you are ready for a increase in responsibilities does not justify for an employer that you are ready. You must make a reasonable connection between what you have done - and what you now want to do. How?
Take special care when you write the paragraphs that describe your previous jobs. If your previous job was Clinical Director and now you want a Director of Operations job, the person reviewing your resume will not assume that it is time for you to have a promotion because you have "earned" it or "paid your dues". The world simply doesn't work that way. You need to show how prepared you are for the increased responsibilities.
If you are seeking a job change that involves a change of industry or environment, it is acceptable to be more generic in describing your responsibilities - but, avoid being too vague. For example, if you have been the Director of Oncology Services in a tertiary hospital and are now seeking a role as Marketing Director in a large physician practice, when describing your previous role you may emphasize your community relations activities, the size of your market, your business development planning responsibilities or involvement in referral development. However, don't leave out what you really did in your previous roles and what your day-to-day priorities were.
One way to approach this challenge is to ask yourself the question, "What objections, doubts or concerns might an employer have if the employer were to hire a person with my background for this particular job?" Make a list of these potential doubts. Then, find a way to proactively address these concerns in the paragraphs that describe your previous jobs. For example, if you have worked in the non-profit sector for many years and are now hoping to find a position in a for-profit setting, you may wish to point out that you are accustomed to being held accountable for bottom lines, revenue production and census development.
Perhaps you lack experience with certain aspects of the job that you are applying for. In this case, don't be tempted to exaggerate or be untruthful. (See our tips about factual resumes). Instead, give some thought to which aspects of the new position that you do have experience in. For example, if you are particularly skilled in building a culture of teamwork and cooperation, emphasize this skill. And, remember the 30-second rule - make sure that you describe your qualifications in short, concise and powerful words. (Also see our article about writing compelling resumes)
"Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture...Do not build up obstacles in your imagination." (Norman Vincent Peale)