Write to the Future

Back to the future timemachine

Back to the future timemachine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed a resume for a client. Technically, it was a great resume. It had everything it needed, was free of errors, was well-organized, and showed her experiences. But as I read it, I was underwhelmed–it had no punch. Here is part of the email I wrote to the client after reviewing the resume:

The reason I am writing is because your resume seems to lack focus toward the future. It is a great summary of what you have accomplished, but after reading it, I have no idea what type of position you are looking for. If I were an employer, I would assume you are looking for a customer service/retail position as that is what the resume focuses on.

The client had great experience in retail and customer service positions, but is about to finish her degree and wants to enter the field of criminal justice. Her resume was still stuck in the customer service mindset. So, here are a few ways to help you write to the future in your job search materials:

  • Know Your Target What type of career are you seeking? What skills does it require?
  • Know Yourself What transferable skills do you have? Transferable skills are skills you learn in one setting that are easily transferred to another. For example, many college students wanting to go into teaching have worked in customer service jobs throughout high school. The customer service skills are easily transferred to dealing with parents who may be upset about a grade their child received.
  • Know What the Employer Needs Get specific and do some research on the organizationthat will be reading your materials. Read trade journals, talk with current employees, read their website in-depth. Know what they need.
  • Match Your Skills to Their Needs I tell clients to assume that whoever is going to read their resume and cover letter are not that bright. You need to explicitly match up your skills to what the employer needs. It might even be to the point of saying “You need this skill for your organization to be successful, here is what I bring…”

By doing these things, you are writing to the future, not the past. If you write to the past, you will be stuck there. Writing to the future will help you get unstuck.

What is the hardest part of writing to the future for you?

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