How to Build a Resume When You Aren't Looking for a Job

There are times in every career where you will be asked for a resume - even if you aren't actively looking for a job. This can be for a lot of different reasons in the business and they all will be looking for the same information - your qualifications. Here is how to build that resume to use when you aren't applying for jobs

Focus on Your Audience

The reason why you are building the resume can be more important than how the resume itself is being built. Remember, you are building the resume for a specific purpose and that there will be a particular goal that you are trying to achieve with this resume. That audience is key to the success of your resume. Keeping that audience in mind through the resume-building process will also make the process more effective.

The reason why people build a resume when they aren't looking for a job can vary. It could be that you were asked by your current company to prepare it, that you are looking to market your services, that clients asked for the resume, or even that your company is pursuing certification or new contracts. Whatever the reason is, remember that the resume you are building is about marketing you and your abilities. So keep that purpose and audience in mind as you think about what details to cover on the resume, the format, and how it will get used.

Define Your Message

A resume for any purpose is simply a marketing piece - a document that markets you as the best person for the need. Thus, you need to focus that document by deciding what your key skills and core message is BEFORE you even start building it. You want to make sure that you understand what the person (or computer system) will be looking for when reading the resume.

Second, you want to think about what it is that you bring to the table that makes you the best option. The resume will simply get you the conversation where you can expand upon the details. So, you need to have the talking points that you want to cover in that conversation on your resume.

Put together the details behind those talking points to create the strongest message on your resume. Think about why you want to cover those examples or capabilities in a conversation. How do these items make you stand out? Cover that clearly on the resume and you will draw the attention of your audience.

Cover the Basics

Although the resume isn't being built for a traditional job search, people will still expect that you cover the basics and that they document LOOKS like a resume. So, make sure that you have all the details covered on the resume and make no assumptions about what people know about your experience. Use this as an opportunity to remind people everything that you have done. Your experience is unique and covering all of those details will help remind people of your journey.

Covering the basics doesn't mean covering your life story. Instead, remember the audience and keep the details on the resume focused on what matters. You should cover the salient points in your experience. You should also make sure that you are building a resume that meets any specific format requirements for your specific purpose. In some cases, a professional bio rather than a full-blown resume is more appropriate. Whatever the purpose or style requirements, make sure that you are covering all of the basic details on the document to meet the needs of your audience. Don't forget to include your contact details on here to ensure that everyone that sees the resume can contact you to discuss the opportunities.

Take Stock of Your Results

The most important part of any resume is the achievements. This is true regardless of why the resume is being built. People connect with results and the things that you have achieved is what make you stand out from the next person (or company). This can also be the most challenging part of building a resume.

A compelling achievement statement on your resume includes an explanation of what you did, for whom, and a result of some kind from those efforts. This item will also include a number of some kind if at all possible. At the same time, numbers are relative. So, you can include percentages to indicate a movement up or down. You may not be able to disclose the specific names of the client or what you did for them. But, you can provide enough detail about the types of organization they are (i.e. Fortune 10 Retailer, Multi-National Financial Services Institution, etc.). The point is that you do not have to disclose confidential or proprietary information on your resume. However, you must convey your role in achieving the results in a way that anyone can understand.

Taking stock of all of your achievements in a role or for a client is important for most people because it reminds them of everything they have done. It also helps them to identify what they could work on to gain experience. Creating the list of these achievements and strategically including them on your resume will also help you in the interviewing process or in your sales efforts because you can clearly talk to specific results and how you obtained them. This level of clarity in your message is compelling and will help you to achieve whatever your professional objectives may be.

Do This Exercise Regularly

Updating your resume periodically is an important exercise - even if you aren't actively looking for a job. It is easy to forget all of the things you do if you don't update the resume regularly - this is particularly true if you are being promoted at the same organization. So, take the time to update your resume regularly to make sure that you can keep track of everything. Plus, in doing so, you will know that you can respond to inquiries by people or clients for a request on short notice. You don't want to miss out on opportunities simply because you don't have a resume.

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