The Perfect Resume Is An Elusive Beast

The perfect resume is an elusive beast. It's never a done document because you should be continuously updating it to keep it current. Your experiences build it up and expand the content with every responsibility and success measurement you've ever possessed and achieved. Yet, you must be succinct in telling the compelling story that is your career to this point. The information you're providing needs to be easily read by the hiring company gatekeeper. But, to appease the word query applicant tracking systems used by many companies, it does have to include every key word or phrase that you believe a computer may flag and bring you to the attention of a human who may be lacking a discerning pair of eyes. 

You have a two page or maybe three page resume (maybe even more?!). You tell yourself that it is what it is because that's who you are. You weren't able to edit it down to anything less. Your awesomeness along with key word queries come into your thinking. You want to share so many important parts of your career with people. At least that's how you perceive them. Then, you may get worried that the hiring organization's HR analyzing computer won't flag you as a candidate of interest because it didn't see enough of the pre-selected criteria that the search is based upon. The content decisions you make will matter.

Here are five quick tips that will help you tame this difficult document:

• Be succinct. I suggest taking your resume down to the bare bones in terms of basic information and then build it up with accomplishments and highlight your key performance successes. Percentage of growth is sweet to behold wherever it's applied.

• Take the opportunity to provide context to what your company's purpose is along with the purpose of your individual responsibility. Assume that the reader is not familiar with the company you worked for and what they do. An explanation of your role will help the reader understand the impact you had on the organization.

• Note the promotions and commendations you've received throughout your career. This may even include a quote from a past supervisor or peer about your outstanding performance.

• Include any career-related opportunities you've been a part of to help others. This would be speaking engagements, industry organization affiliations, participation and/or leadership roles within volunteer organizations. Or, note the clubs that you have been a part of and have supported.

• Be open to drafting an unlimited number of iterations of your resume to achieve the goal of creating a one page resume. Once you have that one page resume, you'll have gotten to the core of who you are and what you've done. You will have, wittingly, formed the most important stories of your background to share with prospective employers. You want to be mindful of including the key words that are common with your roles to catch the computer's thinking and selection. So, if you're feeling restricted with the one page challenge, go ahead and stretch it into two. But, it's important for you to know that you were able to get it on one page. I suspect you'll like it better than your more lengthier version. Expect to fine-tune it over the next week or so and know that you'll go after it again and again.

As you grow, so does your story. Your resume will need to be updated...again.