We can agree that most resumes have similar constituents. There is always a Professional Experience or Career History Section, Education, and Technical Skills, to name a few. Even headers have similar components, or should: Name, Address, Email, Phone Number, and LinkedIn profile (a new standard). But what about the non-traditional, OPTIONAL areas? How can you ameliorate THOSE sections to make your resume scary good? This post is dedicated to the “alien”ated parts of your resume – that may not get the love and attention deserved. Continue on below, NOT Optional.
The Awakening. In my experience resumes need personality. They need something more than the trite or ordinary. It’s expected that you will showcase your work history and what you have done – the very essence of a brag sheet. However, I always incorporate a couple of the below to spruce things up. Why should they be ghosts? Not only are they good talking points, but add value. Nothing should be on your resume if it doesn’t add value. Sometimes that value is not always from a “professional” perspective. Take Interests as an example. Does it matter that someone knows I like Golf? Or that I like scary movies? You won’t be performing “Interests” in your new role. Remember though, the value here is in connecting. It’s in being human. The social aspect of who you are. There is plenty of value in that. In contrast, something that DOESN’T add value would be a bullet point that describes your job. I talk about this all the time. Noone wants to know what the job description is, what did YOU do in this role? Without further ado, let’s talk about OPTIONAL items for your resume.
“I do repair work at the Bates Motel on the weekends”. Kidding, of course. We are talking about Volunteer Work though. Work that is done pro bono or for free, which shows character. Volunteer work unveils a sense of passion – as employees who would give their time to charitable causes or work for free must feel deeply about the given cause or mission. Some common examples you can include with a Volunteer Work section are: Parent driven initiatives (Treasurer of the PTA, as an example), YMCA (Community Leader) or Meals on Wheels (Perhaps you donate time in the evenings – cooking or driving to the homes of the elderly). It could be something like Big Brothers Big Sisters an outfit with a wonderful message. Church groups, hospitals, foundations, the list goes on. This type of work shows your heart and for an employer that is invaluable.
Big Brothers Big Sisters (2011 – 2016)
- Mentor for two young teens (Kate and Abraham)
- Help with Mathematics – tutoring and Career Discovery
- Adult Sponsor for their Soccer Team (Mustangs)
“The Birds”, gardening, photographer, an avid baseball fan. With the latter, how ’bout them Cubs? I am a Kansas City Royals fan and excited about the last couple of years, but glad to see the Chicago Cubs in the Fall Classic. 108 years. Seems like it might be time? The end of the Billy Goat Curse? You see, you may not have realized it, but this could have been a conversation we were having DURING AN INTERVIEW. There is huge value in this. I am not suggesting that you put a bunch of buzz words in your INTERESTS section, but write in things you truly like. The Birds – what a classic movie, but I really was trying to be clever here. An interest wouldn’t be encapsulated by just a movie title. Of course, Alfred Hitchcock would be appropriate as an Interest (Not too narrow. He directed plenty of movies.) Quite a body of work. Fitting for the theme of this blog post. The Man Who Knew Too Much. No really, I am accused of this often… by my wife anyway.
INTERESTS: Writing, Movies (Psychological Thrillers), baseball, spending time with my wife
There really are no steadfast rules on providing Interests. It could be a clever way to let the prospective hiring company no more about you with things that aren’t necessarily appropriate to put anywhere else on a resume. In my example, which is real (for me), I really couldn’t put in my Header or Professional Experience area that “I like spending time with my wife”. Oh the taboo. Here is an example of a poorly written Interests section (so maybe there ARE some rules):
INTERESTS: Sex, drugs, and Rock n’roll; Playing Pokemon while at work
TIP: Use some discretion and common sense. Playing Pokemon fine, playing Pokemon while AT WORK – Not fine.
Fatal Attraction. One Optional filler that is designed to ATTRACT (entice) employers is the OBJECTIVE. Fittingly, I deemed this bullet Fatal Attraction, because if done poorly it really will be Fatal (in giving your resume life). Objectives are not just about YOU. If you use them, make sure they reflect what you can do for the prospective company. To me, Objectives accomplish TWO things: 1) Help a prospect decipher EXACTLY what YOU are looking for and 2) implicate what you will do for THEM. It’s simple and not wordy.
OBJECTIVE: To secure a Senior Project Manager Position in a company that offers growth opportunities and progressive responsibilities; To help streamline and architect processes that will help reduce costs for the PMO.
Close enough? Minor digression: But this was my Glenn Close “Filler”. Come on, give me points for that one.
SUMMARY. “Scream” on paper. This section is a great filler especially for those things that don’t fit squarely in the body of your Professional Experience. Superlatives and attributes are great choices to sparingly include here. Also, for roles that might be aged, but you did something significant. You don’t want to take up space talking about a company / role that is a bit outside your core expertise or current “wheelhouse”, but add in something you want the prospect or HR manager to know. Example: You were a TOP 1% Salesperson 1o+ years ago (out of 1,000 people). This speaks to the caliber of the person. And it could be meshed in, if done properly. This STAT is directly from my resume. It dovetails nicely with Project Management roles, because Project Managers always take the hand-off from the Sales team. You have to find ways to tie in the story.
SUMMARY: Navy Veteran with Honorable discharge. Energetic, creative, accomplished Project Manager and leader with 10 years helping organizations (and clients) grow. Deep experience within HealthCare and Software with… you get the idea. Use your superlatives and attributes wisely.
While I didn’t talk specifically about a Military Experience section (If Applicable), this shouldn’t be Optional. ALWAYS include it. It’s best to get it in near the top. I made the mistake of planting it down the bottom, but it doesn’t really need to be directly part of your Professional Experience. In my case it is 20 years old now. Atleast make a reference to it NEAR THE TOP – a SUMMARY section is fine (Like I did above). If you want to have a more complete synopsis towards the bottom of your resume or after your Professional Experience that is fine. My goal is to make sure that employers understand I am a Veteran. It is an asset and always well-received.
Get a Better PRICE (Vincent Price). Hope you enjoyed the “Thriller” theme. In closing, OPTIONAL sections can add value and get you a better Price; Hopefully, they will warrant a BETTER price via your resume in the way of BETTER salary (Once you are offered the job). You just can’t Beat it. Success is NOT Optional. What are you waiting for?
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
… Bizzeebobber has suggestions so make the optional “undead”
Your resume deserves it, and that’s enough said.[Cue the maniacal laughter]