I have heard people say so often that a skills based resume doesn’t work. From this, I can only assume that they just don’t know how to put one together properly, because a well written skill based resume is powerful, creates interest and gets you the interview.
So what is the difference between one that works and one that doesn’t?
The difference is whether just write down a list of skills you hope the reader will accept you have or whether you use one-liners to prove that you have the skill.
You may have a line in your resume which reads:
– organized, hard worker, excellent communication skills, computer proficient
This proves nothing, except that you’ve read the ad and are regurgitating the information onto paper!
If my resume says I have great computer skills, why should anyone believe me? Especially since under “Education and Training” you will find nothing related to learning computers!
They will believe me if I can tell stories to prove that I have the skill I am claiming.
So here is how to go about it.
First look carefully at the job description – or find out as much as you can about the job. What exactly are they looking for?
Let’s assume you are looking at a job advertisement which just says “excellent computer skills.” This is pretty vague and you don’t know what software they need you to know, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Microsoft Office is required.
Next, think of stories, true stories from your life – they can be as long as you like at this point – stories that describe your proficiency on computers. What have you done with computers? What projects? What software did you take courses in, teach yourself, and what did you use this information for after you’d learnt it?
I am self taught, so this makes it harder to prove I know what I claim to know. However, I have used computer for almost 20 years and this gives me a wealth of stories from which to draw.
Here is my story:
One of the first things I did once I learnt to use a Word Processor (it was Word Perfect 5.1, for those of you who were around in the “olden” days) was I undertook to create a newsletter for a social group of which I was a member. So, my one liner could look something like this:
– Created & produced a monthly 12 page newsletter, using various advanced formatting functions
I am also a handwriting analyst and as such I provide written or verbal consultation reports to clients. When I was at home with my children this was a VERY part time occupation, but the computer skills I used are still valid.
– Created & formatted 4 page structured reports for clients, responsible for grammar, spelling, layout and content.
Are you getting the idea?
Everything I am saying is the absolute truth, but I am phrasing it in business-like terms, and instead of just saying I know how to use Word, I have given them 2 concrete examples of what I have done with the program.
This is the basis of the skills based resume.
If you look back to my story about doing handwriting analysis – I mentioned to you I did either written or verbal reports. There is probably going to be a section in my skills based resume, no matter what job I am applying for, entitled “Communication Skills.” After all, what job wouldn’t be made easier if it’s incumbent had good communication skills? So can you guess what is going to appear in this section of my resume?
– Discussed sometimes sensitive report results with clients, using brevity, clarity and tact.
Now, I’m assuming most of you are not handwriting analysts! But you all have something going for you. You all do many things. Take a little thing that you felt you did or do well, and try creating a one-liner from it.
If you are feeling modest, and thinking it makes you seem too grand – don’t worry, this is normal. Try thinking of the action or skill as belonging to someone else, say your best friend. If you possibly can, think of someone else who actually does this same thing. Then describe it in a one liner describing it for their resume, with no inhibitions or thinking of it as being about yourself. Then objectively look at what you wrote, and ask yourself if this could in all honesty describe you also. The answer is probably “yes.”
Writing a skills based resume does not include any deception. It involves describing your skills in business-like terms, which unless you got the skills in business, is probably a way you have not previously looked at them.
Give it a try.
This, of course, is just the start. You have to understand how to put together the entire resume, but for now – get working on those powerful one liners which can land you the job for which you are qualified.