By: Sarah White
Resumes aren’t easy for anyone. And James Park was no different. Park works with the Information Systems and Control Association (ISACA) and recently earned his master’s degree. While his career his distinguished, his resume needed some work. After speaking with the candidate, Laura Smith-Proulx, award winning resume writer and author of three books (How to Get Hired Faster, Solve Your Toughest Resume Challenges and Finding Your Next Job with LinkedIn), knew there was far more to Park’s career history than his resume suggested.
Overall, James agreed with Smith-Proulx’s view of his resume — he felt his original resume didn’t express his career history and that it was “focused on functional activities and responsibilities,” and that it didn’t express his achievements in an interesting way. Park knew his resume needed work and that it did not effectively convey his leadership skills and experience or what his personal brand represented.
Uncovering the past
After digging into Park’s resume a bit, Smith-Proulx knew that her first objective was to rearrange his work history to highlight how his career path had lead him to his most recent role as assistant vice president of ICT, as well as, highlight his work with ISACA. And although his career history was a bit disorganized, Park included a “solid list of major projects, budget details and other information on his achievements” that Smith-Proulx could work with.
Next, Smith-Proulx got on the phone with Park and dug into his career, his achievements and all of the past projects he had worked on. “We met to discuss how he had added value as an IT leader – specifically focusing on the results he had achieved in building core systems, adding security protections, developing IT staff and implementing governance measures,” she says.
Park was surprised to see how much Smith-Proulx was able to extrapolate from his past roles. She isolated achievements or projects he never thought to include on his resume. That set of fresh eyes brought a new perspective to his own experience and skills, he says.
“The breadth and depth of the process as well as the level of attention to detail. Laura literally mined each area of my career to date and in the process made some valuable finds that I would have probably ignored or literally gone past. The approach was systematic but executed with the grace of an artist,” says Park.
It can be difficult for anyone to write a resume with an objective approach towards your own career history and skills, so for Park, having an unbiased person examine his past achievements helped elevate his resume. By deeply investigating each job on Park’s resume, Smith-Proulx was able to systematically uncover crucial skills and experience that he had previously disregarded.
Removing unnecessary positions
It’s easy to get carried away with details when writing a resume, and oftentimes, people feel they need to list every single job they’ve held in the past but that isn’t always the case. Smith-Proulx felt that Park’s resume could do without a one-off consulting role he held. She felt that listing his consulting experience could be misleading for employers or recruiters, who might read more into that one role than they should, labeling him as a consultant instead of a full-time employee.
“While he was available to provide IT business consulting, he’d had just one small role with a local client. I advised him to leave this experience off the resume, as showing consulting work can lead employers to perceive a candidate as a consultant, rather than a full-time employee,” she says.
Park appreciated Smith-Proulx’s approach, as it gave him a new appreciation for his resume. With her guidance, he was able to see how certain things could add to — or take away from — his final resume. “As Laura proceeded with her process it became clear that her focus was drawing out my background and highlighting my expertise that may be of value to an organization and, she did this in a very sensitive and affirming manner,” he says.
Crafting a resume is all about creating a career story, one that shows how you got to where you are now and demonstrates your strongest skills and achievements in an interesting, easy to read package. To do this, Smith-Proulx decided to build the resume around one central focus — Park’s career promotions all the way up to his most recent role as assistant vice president of ICT.
Smith-Proulx decided to include his work on creating governance standards, working closely with executive teams and earning high satisfaction ratings from his employers. She also made sure to clarify his decision to finish his Master’s degree in 2015, with a “brief description of his role as an ISACA examiner — an unusual note, but helpful in answering employer questions about what he’d done during the past year.”
In the end, Park walked away with a concise, two-page resume that “employs a classic professional history section that shows James’s last role as an IT leader,” says Smith-Proulx. She goes on to note how the final product focuses heavily on his contributions and responsibilities for the last 10 years, using blue and deep red colors to highlight specific skills, experience and his greatest achievements.
And Park agreed, saying the final resume is one with, “a clear focus demonstrating my IT leadership, strategy development and execution and program management.” He notes that Smith-Proulx left him with “more than a good resume.” Noting it as a document that provided a clear and focused business case for an organization to recruit him as an IT Executive. “I ended with an overall positive feeling about the process and the outcome has bolstered my personal confidence,” says Park.
Sarah K. White — Senior Writer
Sarah White is a senior writer for CIO.com, covering IT and healthcare careers, among other technology topics