Earlier this week, I received an email with a question about using industry specific terminology on a resume. The author was concerned her resume used too many industry specific acronyms and phrases, and asked if this could be an issue when applying for positions outside her current field.
This question reminded me that resumes should be written with the FUTURE job/employer/industry in mind. Another way looking at this is to write your resume as if you are looking through a windshield as opposed to the rearview mirror.
If you write your resume to demonstrate why you are a perfect fit for your current job, you are telling recruiters that you are looking for jobs that are similar to your current one. That is writing a resume by looking backwards. By focusing the information on your resume to fit the needs of your future role, you will be communicating that you can do the future job and that your past experiences have prepared you for the future job. You are looking ahead, through the windshield, to the next set of challenges.
The ‘windshield’ approach is critical for career changers. One must demonstrate that past jobs, ones that were outside of the scope of the industry of the current role, have prepared you for the future job opportunity. This means you want to review the needs of the employers (desired skills and functions of the position to which you are applying) and communicate on your resume where in your past you have developed these requisite skills.
One must also be careful to remove vocabulary that is overly specific to one’s industry. For example, the terms Teach/Taught are specific to the education industry, instead of using those terms, why not focus on Presentation, Communication, Public Speaking skills? Military officers know this phenomenon all too well when resume writing – many of their terms are specific to the military and unless one knows the military hierarchy, terms like PERSCOM (there are online dictionaries to help translate military acronyms!) will be lost on the corporate resume reader. You want the reader of your resume to understand what you are communicating, to picture you in the job, and using words/phrases that are commonplace at that employer will help the hiring manager see how you “fit” the position.
Live your life and write your resume by looking through a windshield instead of a rearview mirror. By understanding who will be reading your application, you can communicate more effectively by speaking the language of your future employer.