Last week, “Jason” called to tell me that he had been fired by his employer. It wasn’t totally unexpected news because two months earlier he had told me that his manager had placed him on a 60 – day probationary period. There is always hope that a manager will have a change of heart, but the reality is that is a rare occurrence.
To his credit, Jason didn’t spend a lot of time feeling sorry for himself. Nor did he talk disparagingly about his former employer or manager. Jason’s focus and energy were where they needed to be, on finding his next job.
Today, when I was talking with Jason on the phone, I asked him: “What has been the toughest part of becoming unemployed and starting to look for a job?”
He replied: “It’s first knowing what to do. Do I start networking and calling people to let them know I’m unemployed? Or do I start to prepare my résumé? Or do I take some time off and just relax? Knowing what to do first is the most challenging part for me.”
I told him the reason I asked the question was so that I would be able to offer suggestions to other people who had recently lost their jobs. “I know it has been just one week since you were let go, but what do you think should be your No. 1 priority?” I asked. There was silence for a few seconds and then he answered: “Taking the time to put together your résumé.”
I asked him to explain why. He answered: “Because it’s a confidence builder. When you are let go by a company, it’s easy to forget your strengths and what value you can bring to another employer. But when you write your résumé, you are reminded of your strengths and successes. Updating my résumé reminded me of my achievements. I started feeling good about myself, what I had accomplished and what I had to offer.”
Jason is right. Your résumé is where you need to focus your initial energy. Obviously, you are going to need a resume before you start interviewing. But there also is intrinsic value in how it helps you feel about yourself.
Managers look for job candidates who convey confidence and have a strong likability factor. People who have those two qualities typically feel very good about themselves and what they have accomplished.
A résumé reminds you of your achievements. By reviewing your résumé, writing and rewriting it, you are reminded of the hard work that it took to accomplish them. The more you review your accomplishments, the stronger your confidence grows. The more your confidence increases, the better you feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the more your likability factor increases.
There are plenty of articles and books that have been written on how to compose a good résumé. You can even spend hundreds of dollars and have a company prepare your résumé for you.
But a résumé is more than how it looks. It’s more than facts and figures. It’s more than a written chronology of your career. It’s about how it makes you feel. The more time you personally take to internalize your résumé, the more confident and likable you will be in an interview.
This is not to understate the impact your résumé will have on the hiring manager. Your résumé will tell the hiring manager a lot about your personality. Sending a résumé with typos shows a lack of attention to detail. Sending a résumé with a format that was used 20 years ago shows a lack of interest in staying current. Sending a résumé that is not specific to the job description shows a lack of preparation and interest. The interviewing manager will know a lot about you even before he/she talks with you over the phone or meets with you in person.
But most important is the impact your résumé will have on you. How your résumé makes you feel will have great impact on your confidence level and your likability factor. It’s the first and most critical step in the entire job search process.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Sometimes going through a job search will seem like a journey of a thousand miles. Chances are it’s a journey during which you will experience peaks and valleys.
Every journey has a beginning. The journey for an effective job search first begins with a résumé – a résumé that reminds you of the outstanding qualities and strengths you will bring to your next employer.