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What Is Your Point Already?

(I better plug Jim Thompson or he may not accept any more articles from me. After all he is pretty good at this stuff).

I read an argument from Jim Thompson recently concerning resume’s that went something like this.  Don’t put extensive experience with volunteer or outside technical organizations on your resume’.  Doing so may give the impression that you work more as a volunteer than you do at your job.  Instead write mainly about your job accomplishments.

(I don’t like this idea.  I prefer a person to be well rounded with many activities. But).

There’s a gem of truth in this point.  Consider the main purpose of a resume’.  It is to get an interview or at least a call back phone conversation.  And the biggest task in writing a resume’ is to keep it short, on point, and attention getting.

(Gees, I caved in … now I’d best support it).

This is akin to something I read long ago about speeches.  The person was of some notoriety at the time and said:  If you want a 5 minute speech, I’ll be ready in two weeks.  If you want a 10 minute speech, I’ll be ready in a week.  If you want a one hour speech, I’m ready now.

(Students look at writing a five page paper in horror … so many words … I don’t even know five pages worth of words).

Writing is all alike, and believe me, high school students do not appreciate this idea.  It is difficult to write a short article effectively.  Ten pages of rambling baloney - cup of tea.  One page of concise interesting prose – help!

(I just sat staring at this page for 10 minutes trying to form the continuation & got the idea of inserting side thoughts in parenthesis.  Hmmm this is different).

One thing I’ve learned about effective writing is that the author better grab your attention in the first paragraph or two, then keep hold of you, and leave you breathless at the finish.  This is tough to do in a resume’ yes?  Reminds me of the movie “Legally Blond” where the main character scripted a short movie skit for her admission application to Harvard Law.  That was the queen of resumes! 

(Okay so far.  I’ve got to mention the WSJ & NYT because they were so influential in my writing).

No formal high school or college class ever taught me how to write well.  Classes taught me how to write correctly but writing well was different.  The “Wall Street Journal” and the “New York Times” were positive influences on writing well.  I read The Times book reviews frequently and from them got a feeling for the most interesting style for writing a review. 

(You are off topic on resume’s … oh well press on).

Over twenty years ago I read an article in the WSJ that absolutely pulled me into the paper.  I finished it and sat there with this WOW feeling.  Then later that article won a Pulitzer Prize.

The final thought I have is something I learned recently.  Even the best can’t do great work all the time.  The best writers; the best speakers; the best athletes; oh yes even the best managers.  Steven King doesn’t hit #1 on the NYT best seller list every time. President Regan had some poor speeches.  We’ve yet to see how Cam Newton will do in the pros.  And Bill Gates has made some bad decisions.  We all have our ups and downs. 

(Ok ding dong, try to close & tie this into the resume’ stuff).

 So if you are drawing a blank on resume’ creativity, take a break.  Read some really good resume’ examples to churn your creative side.   Or watch Legally Blond.  You’ll laugh and learn the bend and snap.

Go Army – Beat Navy.

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA


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