Writing a great resume is part formula, part art. While structure is important and gives you a framework, it takes analysis and finesse to cast your work history in a relevant, attention-grabbing light. If you're looking for a senior support role, your No. 1 goal should be to make sure every aspect of your resume ties back to the executive assistant job description you're responding to. Here are five tips to help get you started.
1. Where is the overlap?
Print out the executive assistant job description. Highlight the key skills and experience the company is looking for. Now print out your current resume and the job description from your most recent position. Review those documents for similar skills and duties and circle them. Where does your work history overlap with the job description? This exercise will help you create a foundation for including the most important and relevant information on your resume.
2. Where are the gaps?
Once you've identified the overlaps, you need to address the gaps between the executive assistant job description and your current resume. Are there new skills you need to add from your current position or from a job that you omitted from your resume during your last job search? Do you have any hobbies or side projects that demonstrate proficiency in a key area for the new role? Jot down any skills and experience you can add to round out your resume and make a stronger match.
3. What are the keywords?
It's not only essential that your resume speaks to the requirements of the position; it's also important that you talk about your relevant experience using the same words and phrases included in the executive assistant job description. Why? This will give your resume a better chance of making it through the initial evaluation phase, which is often automated to count the number of keyword matches. Of course, be careful to use your own voice, and be authentic while incorporating keywords. Submitting a carbon copy of the executive assistant job description won't get you far.
4. How can you spotlight your most relevant experience?
Although most resumes are organized chronologically by job title, consider other ways of structuring yours. Try to distill the executive assistant job description down to a handful of overarching duties. Create a new version of your resume using those items as headlines, and include a few bullet points listing relevant accomplishments under each headline. For example, you could include headlines like "Event Planning Experience," "Managing Schedules," "Creating Presentations" or "Organizing Travel" — whatever the most important categories are for the job you seek. Then simply include a separate section listing your job history chronologically from newest to oldest.
This can be an especially helpful structure if you've worked your way up through the ranks at one company or department and took on new job responsibilities while also retaining old ones. Even if you don't submit this version of your resume, it can be a useful tool for eliminating redundancy in a resume that's organized by position.
5. Why are you the best person for the job?
Finally, while every aspect of your resume should answer this question to some degree, your professional summary gives you an opportunity to come right out and say it. This item comes at the top of your resume, but it might be best to tackle it last. Once again, taking cues from the executive assistant job description, describe your strengths and state why you're tailor-made for the job at hand.
Even if you've kept your resume up-to-date, you should tweak the content — and the file name — every time you apply for a new job. You may be the best person for the job, but you'll need a resume that's strong enough to earn you a chance to prove it.