Three. Leverage Your Competency-Based Résumé

The appearance and content of your résumé play an important part in the interview process. Interviewers look for the core competencies to be highlighted on your résumé as a gauge of your suitability for their positions. When you are able to call attention on your résumé to your hands-on knowledge, you answer, at least in part, some of the interviewer's competency-based questions. To begin, the more competencies you target on the résumé, the better your chances of being invited to that interview. Then, during the interview, the interviewer will direct her questions to the information you provided on the résumé. This works to your advantage, because you get the opportunity to elaborate on those competencies, describing the scenarios that provide the best examples.

In this chapter, you will find tips to consider in preparing your résumé, examples of accomplishment-based questions you are likely to be asked, advice on writing a résumé introduction, and suggestions for preparing the professional experience section of the résumé so it focuses on your competencies. Also, you will find here sample résumés you can use as a guide when developing your own résumé.

Competency-Based Résumé Tips

The purpose of a résumé is not to land you a job but, rather, to get you in the door for an interview. This concept is important because it is integral to the résumé-preparation process. When you feel compelled to include unrelated experience or to clutter a résumé with irrelevant facts, think twice. Do not fill the page with empty sentences and boring details. Instead, prioritize your accomplishments and identify pertinent core competencies that relate to your new job search.

Keep in mind the following résumé-preparation advice:

Strategize. Begin the résumé-writing process with the end result in mind. Before you commit words to paper, think about the core competencies that will entice interviewers to call you.

Focus. Avoid Jack-of-all-trades résumés. Job descriptions are specific in naming the qualifications and competencies needed for the open position. A résumé that displays more than one career objective won't get you in the door. Let's face it: interviewers are not seeking a combination hairdresser/janitor/customer service representative.

You may hesitate to write a specific résumé because you want the reader to know everything about you—just in case a position opens up that you are semi-qualified for. Unfortunately, this strategy almost always backfires. If you send a résumé that lacks focus, hiring managers will assume you are unfocused, ready to accept any job that comes along. In the meantime, your competition is submitting focused résumés that speak to the competencies that the organization seeks.

It is okay to have more than one focus—most job seekers do. However, if this is your situation, you need more than one résumé! There is no way around this. In order to get noticed, your résumé has to outline the competencies for the particular position you are applying for. If you are applying for two different types of positions, you need to have two different résumés, each tailor-made for the position.

Be distinctive. Avoid résumé templates. The majority of résumés out there are formatted with templates, and the result is that they have the same look and feel, making it difficult to differentiate between candidates. When searching for a job, the last thing you want to be is an ordinary, run-of-the-mill applicant.

A distinctive résumé format not only makes you stand out from the crowd but also makes you look more qualified and organized. In truth, how your résumé looks is as important as how it reads. Later on, you'll get the opportunity to see different formatting ideas.

Be relevant. Because most hiring managers aren't interested in outdated accomplishments or competencies, your résumé should focus on your last ten to fifteen years of employment. In addition, leave out jobs that are not relevant to the position you are applying for. Eliminating old and irrelevant jobs will leave more room on the page to highlight your career objectives and applicable strengths.

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