This book is a 20-year work in progress. It began with my desire to test the waters of private practice career consulting following a series of public and nonprofit sector positions, providing diverse employment services to special populations in Canada, Tennessee, and Washington State.
Having just left what I assumed was my last social services job, I identified various private employment firms and began contacting the ubiquitous “person with the power to hire” I had sent so many of my previous clients off to find.
Much to my satisfaction, these efforts actually landed meetings with the target market. One of these was with Tom Washington, in the office of his firm, Career Management Resources, Bellevue, WA.
Tom was a young-looking almost 40-something in a smart gray suit with an earnestness about him I had not seen since first meeting my young Tennessee congressman, Al Gore, a decade earlier.
We chatted for over two hours. I left the meeting with the realization that while I knew a lot about employment, I knew relatively little about career counseling and even less about resumes.
Tom eventually contacted me and asked if I would be interested in joining him at CMR, initially as a resume consultant and later, as I learned the program, a full-fledged career counselor.
At the time, I was working part-time as an editor at a small publishing company in downtown Seattle by the famous Pike Place Market.
Not knowing if career counseling was something I was ready to commit to on a full-time basis, we agreed I would ease in, starting three days per week.
Using Tom’s book Resume Power: Selling Yourself on Paper as a guide, with occasional tutoring by the author, I learned my craft.
I learned that a resume is more than a series of cobbled-together job descriptions punctuated with a bunch of self-aggrandizing statements crammed mercilessly into a single overworked page. I learned that the resume was, first and foremost a statement of value, designed to impress the writer as well as the reader. Most workers, Tom maintained, had little understanding of their accomplishments and, as a result, were unable to describe their value to employers.
As if to provide an exclamation point, Tom invited me to my very first meeting of our professional group, The Puget Sound Career Development Association. The guest speaker was Bernhard Haldane, whom many consider the godfather of career counseling.
This slight, soft-spoken British-born septuagenarian gazed into the faces of the 40 or so career counselors, consultants, and wannabes (such as me) that comprised his audience and posed the following:
“How many questions does an employer ask at the typical job interview?”
Having a room full of experts naturally resulted in a chorus of conflicting responses.
In response, Haldane, brandished his index finger in the air and said, “One.”
“And . . . what is that question?” he asked.
At that point, several of my colleagues got it. “What can you do for me?” they cried in unison.
Haldane nodded in agreement. “How are you going to be valuable to me?” he said, and for emphasis, repeated. “How are you going to be valuable to me?”
Then I, too, got it!
That was my epiphany.
The entire process of client self-discovery and marketing in the job search process came down to a single concept, one word . . . value!
From that moment on, my mission as career counselor was to assure my clients understood and appreciated the value they had provided in each of their positions and were able to clearly articulate it both in print and in person.
Value was my new mantra.
Tom and I were on the same page, as it were.
That was nearly two decades ago. In that time, I have worked with hundreds of career and outplacement clients in defining new occupations. I have also worked with thousands of resume clients. Resume consulting became my specialty.
The resume, I decided, is a process not a product. As such, each of my clients is required to actively participate in the preparation and writing. Utilizing this team effort, we consistently prove that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts. By use of trial and error, we find the exact wording and phrasing to define the client’s true value in each employment setting. The result is not only a strong resume, but the foundation of a strong interview. Everything on the resume has been tested and proven. The client can present it unafraid that some part of it is going to unravel at the interview. On the contrary, everything in the resume is there to be expanded with additional description, context, and value.
As stated, Tom and I are pretty much in agreement as to what makes a strong resume. We have a format that, with certain variations, has served our clients well through the years. Yes, we even consider ourselves “experts” in the field. Tom is the author of three earlier books in the field and both of us have written numerous articles for national and regional publications. We have facilitated countless classes, workshops, and seminars. We have no corner, however, on all the world’s knowledge and wisdom pertaining to resumes.
What we have is experience and lots of opinions based upon what we have seen through the decades. We also have the humility to understand and appreciate the work and opinions of others. Resume creation is art . . . not science; the simple measure of what constitutes an effective resume is whether it works or not! Does it result in interviews?
Tom and I do not agree on all aspects of the resume . . . content, structure, and various other issues. Throughout Resume Empower! we will present examples of our divergent opinions and allow the readers to make up their own minds as to which one, if either, of us to follow . . . or find their own truth.
That is the true purpose of this book . . . to offer information and strategies that will empower you to create the resume and the presentation you deserve.
Gary Kanter Sammamish, WA