How can you strengthen the content of your resume or CV? 3 effective areas

What is your resume trifecta? When potential employers look at your resume or your CV, there are 3 main winning areas that will get you noticed.

Whenever we talk about updating your resume, we often think about the format and layout. While the attention span of potential hiring managers and employers is quite short, what they care most about is the contents of the resume or CV. There is no shortage of qualified applicants and standing out is critical now more than ever. There are 3 main areas that an employer or hiring manager will examine in terms of the CONTENT of your resume and I am referring to this as your Resume Trifecta. Win in these 3 areas and the potential manager will want to hear more from you aka invite you for a face-to-face interview

In my own experience I have seen strong candidates who are unable to package themselves in a way that would make you want to call them in for an interview. When planning your career path long term, keep these 3 buckets in mind in terms of areas of improvement.

So what are the 3 areas?

1. Experience

There really isn't a way around this one. You need to demonstrate that you have experience and that you are bringing this experience to the table. Given how competitive most industries have become, entry level often requires 0 to 3 years experience and in some cases 3 to 5 years of experience. Mid-level is anywhere from 3 to 5 or 5-7 years experience. Senior level is generally over 7-10+ years of experience. Experience is more than just the number of years worked - it is the expertise that you have gained through the roles you have held. Some ways to build experience:

  • Volunteering at an organization to gain administrative experience

  • Job-shadowing or going on an assignment to gain particular experience in a niche

  • Experience in project management gained during a professional development program e.g. an applied Masters degree

If you have gaps in your CV e.g. you immigrated to another country, or you have been off work as a stay-at-home mom and are re-entering the workplace, find ways to build experience even if it is not paid. This can help bridge some of the gaps. In your current role if you are lacking in experience in a particular area, including this in your learning and development plan so that you can be intentional about building experience so that you position yourself to be competitive in that area. Finally leverage personal experiences that could add to your competencies for a job.

2. Skills

This is a little nuanced but skills do differ from experience in that they are the competencies you have gained in a role mostly through training. This can be on-the-job training but more often than not it is through your education if you are in a practical field or course work you have taken. Your academic program can also help you build transferrable skills which are from one field but are transferrable to another. Think of skills like your tool box of various competencies that you can bring out and use as needed. Some of these are:

  • Computer skills - MS Office Suite, Excel , Word, Powerpoint

  • Database management

  • Software skills e.g. SAP, SPSS,

  • Time management skills

  • Effective communication - orally and written

  • Project Management Professional - PMP

  • Certified Evaluator C.E.

  • Professional Engineer

Once you have landed a job it is worth exploring which skills you can build through that experience and also examine which skills are transferrable from one field to the next. This will help you build flexibility so that you can adapt should you need to. The great thing about skills is that they can be learned and there are often certifications that can validate that you indeed have those skills. This can help you negotiate a higher salary. Are you changing fields or career path? Leverage your transferrable skills that are applicable from one industry to another.

3. Knowledge

The third resume/CV trifecta is knowledge. This is gained through a combination of things including your education, work experience, and skills training. This is what you KNOW that is useful to the position. The higher you go professionally, the more you are expected to bring to the table both in terms of knowledge and experience. The more you grow in knowledge in a certain area and you APPLY that knowledge, you then position yourself to become an expert and the go-to person in that field.

  • Knowledge is very industry specific and will vary from engineering, to public health, to economics.

  • The key thing about professional knowledge that is different from academic knowledge is the application of that knowledge either to build products, to offer services and eventually to influence policies.

  • All this to say that building academic knowledge is good however it is only valuable in the professional world in as much as it is practical and applied.

  • Getting a PhD is valuable in industry in as much as it is applicable to something tangible - more school often

  • We often assume that more education automatically equates more knowledge. This is not necessarily the case. Knowledge can be gained through experience - a higher understanding of policies and procedures;

As you build your career, strengthening your resume trifecta will enable you to establish your knowledge, your skills and your experience as the industry go-to person. The cherry on the top of these is your personality as this cannot be taught or learned. A person who is easy to work with, adaptable, flexible and who brings the resume trifecta to the table will always be an asset.

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