Resume Writing: The Mental Game
Whether you’re dusting off an old resume because you are ready to move on from your current position or you’re doing so in the face of a job loss, it can be a bit overwhelming making sure your resume is perfect. The same goes for when you’re building a resume from scratch.
Of course, working on a resume, especially when you’re staring at a blank page, can be daunting. It’s especially challenging when resume format preferences seem to change on a regular basis.
Sometimes not knowing where to start is enough of a roadblock to cause people to put aside updating their resume and moving forward on the job hunt. However, it’s usually that first step that makes the rest of the process to follow easier.
A lot of getting work done on your resume comes down to the mental game. Putting yourself in a good mindset is the first step to crossing over the mental block barrier.
In this article, we’ve put together a few helpful things with an eye towards not just getting your new resume journey going, but getting it going strong.
Leave Plenty of Time
By giving yourself plenty of time before any job application deadline arises, you take a significant amount of the load off your shoulders because it allows you to avoid the stress of the deadline.
When you’re rushed, you’re likely to be a lot more prone to making typos and grammatical oversights. Not only do you have to worry more about those kind of errors, but it also takes away the opportunity for you to be able to put thought into your resume.
If you’re in a hurry to plonk your career history out on paper because of a looming deadline, you may forget to include aspects of your past positions that would translate well for future job opportunities.
The rush will just have you focused on getting the key parts on paper, and you might forget some of the other useful skills you have curated but that aren’t listed in your current job’s description.
Write Down All the Things You Do
Now that you have plenty of time to sit back and write (or rewrite) a considered resume, get together some really good content for it.
When we say to write down all the things you do at work, we mean it. Okay, maybe leave out where you changed the toilet paper roll in the bathroom – although that would highlight what a great team player you are!
Why do we suggest this? It’s easy to get locked into simply copying down what you do strictly from your job description’s point of view, but we often perfect crucial skills outside the confines of that description paragraph.
There also may be things you do that you don’t think about as being relevant to the job. Maybe you help mentor the interns at work, but it’s not an official role. It still shows management and leadership. Perhaps you’ve been brought in to collaborate on a project outside your purview but it’s not part of the regular responsibilities you have. It still shows that you are mutable and your input is valued by the people you work next to.
Having this handy list available is also good when it comes to tailoring your resume for specific opportunities down the road.
Give Yourself Some Branding
Sometimes it’s hard for us to sell ourselves, and that’s largely what is required when putting together a resume and going for a new position, so if you’re still struggling to get started, it may be helpful to think of yourself as a brand. For example, if you’re in a logistics field you want to ensure you use the best industry relevant terms to showcase your expertise.
This change in mindset can often help give you momentum to get going on your resume. In the commercial about you, how would you sell yourself to someone else? What are your achievements? What unique experience do you have? What makes you different than everyone else?
By answering these questions, you can start to get an idea of what things need to be on your resume. Just be careful that you’re not being too broad if you go this route and make sure what you put down makes sense in line with the position you’re applying for.
Browse Through Some Examples
If you have all the information you want to include on your resume and are just stuck on the format, consider perusing examples of other people’s resumes that are in your field. Not only can you see what kind of display is enticing to you, but it’s also a great way to see what you don’t like.
Try a Template
As I write this to you, I am reminded how cumbersome Word can be. The Paper Clip might look cute and claim to want to help, but it may not be the answer to solving your resume formatting problems.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resume template examples out there for you to take advantage of. Templates take the frustration out of putting your resume together. You’ve already got the content you want to use, now all you need to do is pop it into the template builder and get a manicured, professional resume back.
Think Like the Hiring Manager
Another helpful tip for getting into the resume-writing mindset is putting yourself in the position of the hiring manager as you write it. How is the job you’re going for explained? What seems to be the focal points?
Tailor your resume so that it clearly highlights the skills and experience pertinent to the new position. Don’t make the resume receivers comb through a bunch of information that isn’t relevant to the position you want as you’re more likely to lose your audience, and in this case, a bored audience member means a missed opportunity.
Go Get ‘Em, Tiger!
Resumes are a fact of life in the working world, whether we want to accept it or not. While you may be fighting to get motivated and push aside feelings of being overwhelmed, just remember that the first step to resume writing is getting started.
As we mentioned above, a huge part of producing a quality resume starts mostly in your head. So, if you’re at the stage of staring at a blank document on the screen, time to get out of your head, and get moving!
Carlo Wheeler is a career expert with 5+ experience in the HR industry. Since 2017, he has been sharing advice in areas related to recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion.