Regardless of age, past experience or job status, many people find it challenging to develop a resume. Seasoned professionals find it hard to sum up one's career in one or two pages. Graduates don't understand how they can be hired having so little experience at all. Besides, it is no easy task to put value into words when you have what it takes to do the job. All of the recommendations to try and look at one's resume as a hiring manager would in order to objectively evaluate the document often don't make sense as it is almost impossible to take such a view of own accomplishments. The list of resume writing challenges can go on and on and on as there are numerous issues with creating a well written document that will land interviews. Nevertheless, the critical moment occurs even before the writing stage and is mostly skipped by job seekers.
What is a Resume Strategy?
Those trying to find a job usually rush to write a resume and send it to as many recruiters/employers as they possibly can in hopes such approach will bring them numerous interview invitations. But this usually ends with an endless cycle of resume rewriting in attempts to get at least some interview offers. This circuit, however, never seems to end. Crisp writing, flawless grammar and good formatting are all important for a good resume or for a convincing presentation. The question is how you can deliver a winning presentation without fully understanding what you are presenting and why? That's where you need to think about strategy - before you even start writing anything. A resume strategy is your game plan. In other words, it is a set or principles to drive your decision making process both in regard to the job search campaign in general and resume writing specifically.
When it comes to resume writing, starting with developing a strategy assumes you will be making decisions about what to highlight based on your guiding principles as well as your own career objectives and the needs or a prospective employer. But before you get down to writing, you need to clearly define the set of your guiding principles, including career objectives and what your target employer should look like. For example, if your primary value proposition is to grow a company's revenue through marketing and that is what your prospective employer is looking for, then you pretty much are settled with that to emphasize throughout the document - your past revenue enhancement accomplishments. In case you don't have any yet, you should still create a message that clearly communicates your ability to do it.
Strategy then should come first. Resume formatting, language and grammar - all of these things become effective if you have a clear understanding where you are going and how to get there. And it doesn't really matter whether you are a recent graduate or seasoned professional - every job seeker should have his/her own strategy to maximize the efforts. Obviously, developing a resume based on the developed strategy may take more time as you will need to plan things rather than fire out your employment history and skills. But such approach will accelerate your job search significantly giving you confidence to perform well at an interview.
How to Develop a Resume Strategy?
You can start from taking a blank piece of paper to jot down what you want a person that you meet for the first time to know about your career. Just share your thoughts freely. Try to be concise (not more than 300 words). After you have done that, spend some time making a list of your major achievements in each role. Highlight those accomplishments that you believe showcase your true abilities in the best way. Then research the industries, companies and jobs you would like to target and develop a strategy based on what you've learned about yourself and your targeted career path.
There must be themes that have naturally emerged that will guide the resume writing process. From there you can edit your accomplishments directing them toward your target jobs specifically and create a base resume. Then make sure you adjust your resume to respond to the requirements of a specific job opening. It is unlikely you will have to do much tailoring at this stage, just a few edits of concepts and/or keywords.