The other day I was speaking with a client about his resume and how to cover some gaps he perceived were in his background since losing his job in a restructuring over a year ago. His concern was that shortly after coming off disability and returning to work, he learned that his job was being eliminated.
While he was given a 90 day notice period, shortly after his job ended he immediately had to deal with an ailing family member which consumed a considerable amount of his time over the balance of the year. As a result, it was several months before he was able to launch his job search in earnest and he was having concerns about how to explain the "gap" in his resume.
As we talked through the issues my advice to him was that he just be honest. I made the point that any prospective employer worth their salt would respond positively to his authenticity....and if they didn't, he might really want to think long and hard about whether or not he wanted to work for them!
As we looked at his resume, it was well written and listed numerous, significant accomplishments over his 16 year career with a well-known multi-national company. However, in studying it more closely I was given the opportunity to "recycle" some wonderful advice I was given years ago by a prospective employer. You see at the time I too had a resume filled with accomplishments that (if I do say so myself) were also very impressive. However, my soon to be new manager asked a simple but riveting question that I'll never forget.
Very innocently he asked, "So tell me Leigh, what do you like to do when you're not working?"
Of course I responded by listing my involvement with my family and my children's sporting events, my church and other social service organizations for which I volunteered, my interests in golf, travel and reading for pleasure. As I finished my detailed listing he strongly suggested that those areas of interest should be on my resume.
And here's why:
* People buy people not product. While my accomplishments were impressive, many other candidates also had comparable accomplishments.
* To get noticed you need to differentiate yourself. Listing interests and activities differentiate you from others. Take advantage of this, especially if you have a low golf handicap, are a volunteer or hold a leadership position in an organization you are passionate about or have unique or interesting hobbies or interests.
* People respond favorably to others with whom they share common interests. If you like to travel and so does the person interviewing you, it won't take long for the two of you to start sharing stories about favorite places you've been and perhaps even finding that you have a shared experiences in common having both visited some of the same places e.g., Barcelona, London or Paris.
In summary, if your resume doesn't divulge the "softer" side of your background you're missing the opportunity to connect with a future employer and for them to connect with you on a more personal level.
Remember, authenticity matters and it will make it easier and more likely for others to relate to you.
Let me know if I can help you capitalize on your calling. Feel free to shoot over your resume for some free advice to firstname.lastname@example.org