The 2020 update for my best-selling Ladders Resume Guide is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. I’ve included a brief excerpt below.
This updated version is designed to make your resume writing go smoothly. In about 90 minutes, I provide the basics on how to create a professional two-page resume, share templates to help you do so quickly, and provide specific step-by-step advice on writing bullet points and a professional summary that will make you stand out.
Ladders Resume Guide is based on the millions of $100K+ to $500K professionals we’ve helped over the past 17 years, and the success of their millions of applications with our employers. I provide you with the tools, tactics, and tricks you need to transform your past experience into an effective resume. I review the right format for structuring your past jobs into a job history, and tackle the best wording and phrases for your past achievements.
Here’s that excerpt I promised you…
Resumes are advertising, and advertising sells
Even the dictionary gets it wrong.
Resume, spelled with or without those little French lines above it, is defined as a “summary” or “a brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application.”
The dictionary even points out that resume comes from the French word résumer, meaning to summarize.
But that dated definition does not reflect the US employment market in 2020. There may indeed have been a genteel time when we lounged about, sipping tea and collecting cash from peasants, when this advice was useful. Summarizing who you were, and who your parents were, was enough to secure yourself a place at the King’s Court.
As recently as fifty years ago, this summary of your schools, clubs, and connections was enough. At the time of old boys’ networks and old school ties and Old Grand Dad bourbon for expense account lunches, this made sense. Resumes, and their European equivalent, the curriculum vitae (CV), came out of academic backgrounds before they became part of the professional landscape, and did very little to sell the people they were representing. Selling, in fact, was considered low-class and kind of cheesy.
In our modern world of work, in which hustle, merit, and achievement are what matter, you’ll be assessed by strangers that didn’t go to the same “old school”, aren’t from the same “old family”, and don’t care about your “old boys”.
You need to sell. You need an ad.
But because we’re not accustomed to writing advertisements about ourselves, we can feel confused. The sensible advice your parents gave you against bragging and self-importance in social settings seems to conflict with expectations in the professional world. And indeed, it’s important to separate those personal virtues from effective business communication.
In the context of the 21st century American business environment, you have a duty to yourself and your family to accurately convey, and negotiate for, responsibilities and compensation at the level appropriate to your professional development. A fair and rational assessment of your achievements, and the ability to communicate those achievements to a business audience, are important to your success as a professional.
An ad that sells you and your abilities is expected, necessary, and modern. Relying on the dictionary to tell you that it is OK to merely summarize is a good way to get left behind with the “olds”.