[01.22.10]
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Writing A Bare Knuckled Resume and Cover Letter

I mentioned before that I find inspiration in a lot of places.  For post titles.  For tools.  And for content.  I wrote a post a few months back called How To Make Your Resume Soul-Wateringly Delicious.  Now that’s a great title.  Because the words are intriguing and stretch to make a point.  They get your attention.  Now, I didn’t write them – I thank the good people who create ads for Chipotle.  For putting the “soul-wateringly delicious” line in my sights on a billboard.

And with my eyes wide open this past week, I found another.  One that I think will force you to think differently about the way your write your resume and cover letter.  The way you choose your words.

The line is “bare-knuckled”.  Used out of context.  Another billboard.  Now, there’s a number of ways you can define this for job search and career. You can:

  1. think about it as “taking the gloves off”
  2. try to write more crisp and clear
  3. avoid the fluff and think more “raw”

But why is this worth considering?  Well, here’s why.  A lot of people struggle in a phone interview and in a first round interview.  Because they are trying to translate their written resume into words that will influence.  The problem is that few of us write the way we speak.  Want an example?  Go back to an e-mail you wrote at work and read it out loud as if you were trying to get those ideas communicated to someone sitting in your office.

It doesn’t work.

One of the ways I try to help people bring their resume to life is CareerBack.  CareerBack is a free tool here on the downloads page that guides you through the process of writing your narrative.  So that you can be more familiar with your career story in a more conversational style.  If you have trouble turning your resume into a story that people want to hear, give CareerBack a look.  Especially if you struggle with the “tell me about yourself” question.

So here’s the challenge.  If you have some time this coming week.  write a brand new version of your resume and cover letter.  Write it raw.  As few words as possible.  The words should be comfortable and familiar.  Conversational.  As they are coming out of your mouth.

Don’t have the time?  Get out a tape recorder and read your resume and cover letter out loud.  Then listen to it.  Does it sound like you?  Do you hear words that you could never imagine saying in an interview?  As you listen, underline every word on the page that seems fluffy or over the top.  Obvious buzz words.

And then see if you can find better words that tell your story.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Cover Letters And Resumes

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