Defining Your Career Purpose in Your Résumé

Right now, there are two clients that I am working with that are having difficulties in establishing their career direction.  Inevitably, at some point during this process, when their lack of clarity starts to become an obstacle, I get the exasperated question:

“Can’t you just write a general résumé for me?”

The answer is: I could, but I won’t be helping that person at all.  It would be a wasted financial investment.

These days, you simply can’t have a ‘one-size’ fits all résumé document. Last week I wrote in this blog that there is no ‘easy’ button in putting together career credentials. It takes time, attention, and critical thinking about this career tool.

You also have to be laser-precise, simply because so many employers are now using applicant tracking software to screen out unqualified or unrelevant candidates.  Having this focus is absolutely necessary to gathering the correct ‘cloud’ of keywords in the career document.

But what happens when you aren’t quite sure what you want to do?  Do you still try to forge ahead with the
résumé and hope for the best? Or avail yourself upon some other resources?

I always tell my clients that while I personally am not a career coach, I AM the person who puts their career direction down on paper.  I can distill it and refine it, but they have to have a good sense of their direction and purpose before they should consider hiring me. I have a lot of great work-arounds in my bag of résumé tricks, but I can’t find ‘mind-reader’ or ‘psychic’ in there!

Getting back to the folks suffering clarity in their career purpose, I always suggest several options to help them get that sense of purpose for the résumé.

1) Do some on-line research on jobs that interest you.  Look at the skills required in those jobs, and do a cross-analysis of the expertise, abilities and strengths that you already possess. Sometimes, the answer lies in that gold pan, glittering in the sand.

2) Try using some of the free online personality and interest assessment tools available.  You want to make sure that these are legitimate, so do your research first before giving any personal or confidential information out.

3) There are paid services out there that can provide similar evaluations of your interest levels and strengths, which can provide some good feedback on the types of jobs for which you might be best suited.

4) The old stand-by: “What Color Is My Parachute?” – this book has been around for decades, but has stood the test of time, providing readers with a self-paced interactive and activity-filled workbook to discover vocational interests and passions.

5) Hire a career coach.  There are professionals out there who specialize in working with job seekers needing one-on-one counseling and support while they engage in career exploration.  Make sure that the person you want to hire is a professional, and has credentials including membership in professional coaching associations.

6) Test drive your dream job.  As an example, VocationVacations is a company that allows people to experience a new career field first-hand by working next to an industry expert who can show the job seeker the ropes.  This experience doesn’t come cheap, but the information, experience, and insight gained is invaluable.  Sure beats quitting a job for a dream job, only to find out that the dream job wasn’t what you thought it was!

My point about this clarity of purpose is to take the time to discern a clear career direction before sitting down to write a résumé, or before hiring someone to write it for you.  This will help you collect the right keywords, define the appropriate and relevant experience, and position yourself towards that specific job type effectively.    Until you have that clear definition, you shouldn’t be trying to write this document.  Your lack of purpose will be readily apparent to the reader of your résumé, and will have a direct impact on your viability as a candidate!