The bulk of your resume is the chronology of your work history, which makes it seem like the document is about where you’ve been and what you’ve done. A document about the past. But that’s actually not the case at all!
A great resume tells the story of your future -- the story of why you’re well-suited for the role you’re applying for. Too many candidates make the mistake of simply recapping the responsibilities of their most recent jobs instead of identifying the skills that will actually be most useful in their next job.
This is especially important to keep in mind when you’re making a career transition, be it from one industry to another, from one side of the industry to another, or up a rung on the corporate ladder. You’ll need to make it clear to recruiters that you can handle the job they’re hiring for. If you’ve been an assistant for two years and are now looking to be a coordinator, your bullets should focus more on higher-level tasks, like tracking projects and giving script notes, and less on things like phones and calendars -- even though the majority of your current job is administrative.
Sometimes, there’s no easy way to position your specific bullet points in a clear way that showcases how ready and capable you are for the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re moving from a job as a lawyer to a job as a Hollywood assistant, you’ll have to highlight that you’re open to lower-level tasks. You don’t want an agent to worry that you’ll be bored going from arguing a case in court to answering a less educated person’s phones all day! But no one is going to take you seriously if you remove the basic aspects of your job in favor of the clerical work that you probably passed off to a paralegal. In that scenario -- and there are many similar situations -- you’ll benefit greatly from a professional summary. Before diving into your work history, write a short blurb summarizing your key strengths and capabilities (tangible skills only!). This will help frame your candidacy and add needed context to your resume.
Just remember that the primary purpose of a resume is to prove you can do the job listed in the job description. The more you can focus on reflecting the job posting in your resume and showcasing that you have the qualifications to succeed in the role, the better.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan