Q: I’m updating my resume. What other tools should I use for my job search?
A: When preparing a new version of your resume, be sure that the content provides a strong focus on the type of career position(s) you plan to pursue. You need to convey to the reader that you offer a strong match with the qualifications of the preferred candidate.
Many job seekers will try to use a “one size fits all” document, which only dilutes the strength of your message. If you believe you are a good fit for several distinct roles, such as an operations manager, business analyst and consultant, then don’t be afraid to prepare a different resume to address each role. And now you’re probably groaning and thinking that this sounds like a lot of work. It’s not as difficult as you might think.
If your document starts with a strong profile section, offering information on how your credentials and strengths match the role, you can adapt the profile for each version of the resume. Then the chronology of your experience, training, education, etc. remains pretty consistent for each version.
In addition to your resume, there are key marketing materials and resources you’ll need for an effective job search:
Cover Letter. Use a format that is concise and on-point to convey why you are a strong candidate for an advertised opening. Remember that a cover letter is a business document, so get to the point with two or three brief paragraphs. A long, drawn out cover letter will be an instant turn-off.
Letter of Introduction. This is very similar to the format of the cover letter. It has a different opening and is used to pursue unadvertised positions. This document is most effective when combined with networking.
Executive Summary. This document is ultra focused and presents the major highlights from your resume, but in a one page format.
LinkedIn Account. Use the No. 1 professional networking website available to promote your expertise, credentials and achievements. A polished profile which captures the key content from your resume is just the start. Seek out recommendations, link to work samples and build your network using a free LinkedIn account.
Search Card. This is a business card used to present your brand for networking and job search activity. It typically includes your name, several branding titles, phone, email address and your “vanity” URL to your LinkedIn profile.
List of References. Include full contact information (name, title, address, phone, fax, email) for three to five supervisors and colleagues who can attest to your demeanor, strengths and contributions. Be sure that all contact information is current.
Thank You Notes. Sending a handwritten “Thank You” note, rather than an impersonal email, following a meeting or an interview demonstrates that you are a professional and you appreciate the time and consideration you’ve been given.
If you put the time and effort in up front, to prepare strong materials, you are setting yourself up for success. Instead of scrambling to throw something together each time you identify a networking opportunity or a job lead, you’ll be maximizing your search time by using the solid tools you prepared in advance.