Nadine Maas, Free-lance Writer, self-published Author, and owner of Professional Profiles by Nadine, brings 25 years of business writing and 18 years of résumés specialization to the corporate and academic arenas. Her flair for translating client credentials, accomplishments, and career challenges into distinctive resume presentations has won her a well respected place in the business community.
Chris came to me with a resume that he felt wasn’t performing in the market. I could see why. He obviously was a talented professional, but his résumé wasn’t demonstrating his value.
I often say, if we were comparing a resume to geometry, we would say the cover letter and qualifications profile are the theorem, and the content of the résumé is the proof. In a cover letter, I endeavor to articulate a client’s special gifts and talents. In the résumé, I make sure that we prove what we say with substantial résumé content. In this way we intrigue a prospective employer with a real-world story and with what I call the reoccurring theme of a résumé.
In these hard times, we have all been forced to cut back and analyze every purchase we make. The question is, can we afford to cut the budget on our advertising, our résumé, and our reaches to the marketplace? Can we afford to budget on the key to securing and increasing our earnings?
My daughter is an entrepreneur and a talented, gifted artist, and I am a professional writer. Often I remark on how God gave us different gifts so that we could help one another. On good days when business is booming, and we are in high demand, we feel validated in our professional roles. But on quieter days, and in slower times, doubt can cast a shadow over our self-belief and sense of reality.
It reminds me of a what young man who was repairing my TV once said to me. “I always marvel” he said, “about how everybody needs me at once or doesn’t need me at once.” From a business owner’s perspective, I found this to be quite hilarious, but I also immediately grasped his point.
Recently, I had to have two surgeries, 10 days apart, one of them a foot surgery that was supposed to put me out of action for a couple of months. The trouble is as a business owner, I can’t afford to take that amount of time away from work. So I determined that somehow I would have to hasten though not compromise my recovery. After my one-day surgery, I was taking client calls and appointments on the way home. I found that absorption in my clients problems distracted me from my pain. I kept my foot elevated per doctors orders, but I engaged my mind and focused on the needs of others.
I believe that all of us are richly endowed with natural gifts and talents. Isn’t it obvious when we sit in a performing arts center and listen to a voice like that of Pavarotti, or Sarah Brightman. These are people who discovered and used their gifts to bring joy to others, and ironically, they have been well paid for doing what they love so much.
Have you ever noticed that how many brilliant and talented people in the world never seem to accomplish anything, never seem to arrive, never seem to have a sense of where they are going?
Talent is like a raw material in a manufacturing plant. It is a gift that is not to be discounted, but the paradox is that unless it is transformed and harnessed into a tangible product or service, unless it is given a life of its own, it will never generate power or yield results.
When I visited Florida, I became fascinated with the amazing capacity of these little creatures to change their color to match their environment. We can learn from them! It’s not that they become something they are not. Instead, they use resources within themselves to become what they need to be at a given moment. That’s a marvelous lesson for us. We can become what we need to be in a challenging economy.
I am a professional writer and have had the privilege of writing resumes for over 6500 people of every walk of life. Over the past 15 years my work has been mostly about helping people to get better jobs and professional opportunities. Today, it’s about survival in an economy that has imploded into unprecedented job losses and striken terror into the hearts of many.
Over the years I have had the privilege of working with thousands of clients who were endeavoring to make career transitions-─some weary of their career path, others interested in pursuing a lifelong dream, and others still looking for a life change. One young man told me that he had all the accountabilities of a manager without the title. He wondered how he could navigate a transition to the coveted management position he felt he had already earned.
What is it about an interview that connects with all the youthful messages we carry about acceptability verses unacceptability? Somewhere in time, someone indelibly impressed on our souls that as we lived our academic lives, there was some kind of transcript of life we were recording with every missed class, unfinished assignment, or lesser grade. Whomever it was that articulated that message, a well-meaning parent, a threatening teacher, an ambitious counselor, or the ever-illusive definers of success, the stage was set. We were programmed to think that our imperfect life would somehow need to be defended in almost every place. Why didn’t we finish college? Why did we stay in school so long? Why didn’t we get better grades? Why weren’t we able to get along better with people? And on and on.
There are many diverse ideas about what makes a resume successful. People can be very dogmatic about what to do and what not to do when preparing a resume. There are many different resume styles. There are chronological, topical, and functional resume approaches. Of course the final judge of what works and what does not lies in the perception of our marketplace and our prospective interviewers.
Over the years, I have reviewed many cover letters and I have learned a great deal about what motivates our audience.
A good cover letter does not reiterate the specific accomplishments in the resume. The resume is the place where we demonstrate in concrete terms what we have done and how well we have done it. The cover letter is more about who we are, what we stand for, why others have appreciated us, and how we can bring value to their company.
The cover letter is more abstract. It is about our feelings, our commitment, our drive, and our interests. If a cover letter is the theorem, the resume is the proof. In the cover letter, we tell them why we can be an asset to them. In the resume, we must show how we have been an asset to others.
The cover letter and resume compliment each other. If done well they fit hand in glove and combine to make a powerful impression.
People often call me and ask if I can prepare a topical resume for them. Of course having written thousands of resumes, I can do so. But before I do I like to share a few insights with them.
Most people want to use a topical resume because they basically want to hide something. They may feel they changed jobs too often. They may feel they don’t have any experience in their area of new interest. They may be unsure of what they want and wish to cover all the bases.
There is much controversy about the one verses two page resume. I recommend a common sense approach. What is it going to take to differentiate yourself and demonstrate to your audience how you have brought real-world value the the companies you have represented. If you can do it one page, that’s great. If you need two pages, don’t be afraid of the naysayers who tell you this is going to be the deadliest promotional mistake you ever made. The fact is that the two-page resume is in!