Recently during a roundtable discussion about personal branding I was asked: “What should I do if my experience isn’t exactly linear or it’s not obvious that I have the skills necessary for the job?” My answer: forget the traditional resume and use a Career Launching Resume (CLR).
Unlike traditional resumes that are linear and based around where you worked and when, with a career launching resume you can highlight previous experience that is directly connected to the job you’re applying for. This is especially important for college students and recent graduates. When you’re in college, you’re most likely working random jobs or internships that may not go together or show a clear career path. You’re trying out different positions, industries, and organizations maybe only for a few months at a time. Therefore, a traditional linear resume is not the answer; what you want to send to potential employers is a Career Launching Resume (CLR).
Key Elements of a Career Launching Resume
It highlights your life experience, not your work experience
Why stuff your volunteer experience all the way at the bottom of your résumé, especially if it’s the most relevant to your potential job? Your volunteer and extra-curricular experiences are indicators of your potential in the workplace. Plus, the experience you gained through those activities is often more relevant than the experience or training gained in paid (but unrelated) work.
It focuses on your greatest assets and achievements
If the job you are applying for wants management skills, give data that shows what the team or project you managed accomplished, how you increased sales, or how you followed through with a successful project. Connect what you did and who you are with what the organization wants. This is where a strong personal brand can really help you craft your career launching resume.
It demonstrates your authentic interest in the role you’re applying for
Be explicit: how do your experiences connect with the mission of the organization? Highlight any experience (academic, extra-curricular, volunteer, internship, etc.) related to the position.
It’s written like a sales proposal and the product is you
In the end you are marketing a product: you! It is crucial that the packaging is put together and there are no surprises (think about the three C’s). What is your best presentation? Think about your personal brand and make sure your résumé highlights your brand and backs it up with specific examples.
Straying from the traditional resume can be scary and controversial. I argue that these days it’s hard to get a job without a personal connection, so you might as well do what you can to market yourself and stand out in a tough job market. For college students and recent graduates, this is especially important because you may not have the real-world experience to prove that you have the skills necessary for the job. Do you want more information about a career launching resume? Contact me and I can help you craft a resume destined for success!
What do you think about a career launching resume vs. a traditional resume? Share your answers in the comments!