When job hunting, good resumes are goldmines. If you’ve got one – you’ve got an interview. If not, you don’t.
For self-employed people, keeping a resume up to date is a good idea. It’s not because one day you might want to get a job working for someone else. The reason you want to keep a resume is to keep track of what you have done and what you have accomplished. Trust me, you will still need to recite this information one day to a prospective big account, or in a business plan that you present to an investor.
1. Choose a Skills-Based Resume
Skills-based resumes are quite different than traditional, chronologically organized resumes. I remember working for a small company and having to go through resumes of prospective employees. It’s a huge challenge to figure out what people are GOOD at in traditional resumes, because the most prominent thing about them is the who (title), where (company), and when (dates of employment). They don’t put a huge focus on what was learned or what new skills were developed in each job.
Skills-based resumes put the most importance on you and what you’re good at. They shine a light on your skills, and three or four bullet points that emphasize what you’ve accomplished with those skills.
Skills-based resumes are organized like this:
- Name and contact information (small section at the top)
- Your skills and 3-4 accomplishments for each (largest section)
- Your employment history (small section at the bottom)
For great tips on how to put together a skills-based resume, see this recent article on Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/01/29/is-a-skills-based-resume-right-for-you/
2. Focus on Your Accomplishments
We’ve talked before about why it’s crucial to keep track of the good things you’re accomplishing at work. One reason is so that you have great testimonials for your website. Another reason is for your self-employment resume.
It’s not enough that your PR company helps clients get noticed. You need to point out exactly how you know this. Did your clients land highly visible interviews on a specific morning television show? Did one of your clients land a book deal? Be specific – and be open. If you must protect client names, do so, but don’t keep private the information that’s vital, such as the names of awards you’ve received for work on behalf of clients, or the names of major media publications you’ve worked with.
3. Keep It Concise
Sometimes, one very large accomplishment trumps several small ones. Constantly trim your resume to leave only the best bullet points, rather than going on and on about each thing you have done.
Rather than discussing just what you’ve done, discuss the outcome. It’s one thing to keep books, and quite another to help a client save money through your efficiency. Talk about that. That’s what everyone wants to know. This is a good rule of thumb for discussing your work anywhere, even beyond resumes. Try and focus on the so what rather than just the what.
4. Keep It Handy and Up-to-date
You may wish to publish a version of your resume on your website, especially if you are a solo-preneur in consulting or a similar profession. Or, perhaps you could make it fancy and put it up somewhere close to your computer so you see it everyday. There is nothing more motivating than being reminded of your accomplishments.
Also, don’t forget to update LinkedIn profile FREQUENTLY with your latest accomplishments (I’m personally really bad at doing this). No one cares about a tick list of companies you’ve worked for except for Wall Street types, and even they are far more interested in what you’ve done there, not only that you’ve worked there. Even self-employed people can benefit from keeping their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date with the latest accomplishments.
You can only benefit from having a self-employment resume, despite what anyone might tell you to the contrary. One day, that resume will help you remember what you do while you were working on the XYZ account, and believe me, that will come up. I believe that sometimes self-employed people get so heads-down in their work in order to keep hold of the work they have and secure more in the future, that they actually forget what gets them more work – accomplishments. So make time to remind yourself of what you’ve done successfully by keeping a good resume on hand.
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