Most people I meet on their path to getting the job they want in software show me a resume that looks like something they either haven’t touched since school or full of fancy design aspects and empty when it comes to content. I quickly explain the concept of the “Prototype” resume to put them in a position to customize resumes, apply to jobs quicker, and better prepare themselves to negotiate.
The idea is simple enough – you build a mega resume with all your great stuff on it.
Someone is going to read this and say, “But aren’t resumes supposed to be one page?” No, they aren’t.
Even if you wanted to distill yours to one page, what will you put on it? By having this one massive prototype resume, you can select the best elements to put on there for each job.
So, after you have your primary sections and format that you want to use, put everything in it you can. List all those skills, knowledge, and technologies you know. List all of the jobs that you’ve had as an adult. Put everything you could ever want in it.
If you want to be a little more advanced with this, build a prototype resume for each type of job. For example, you might have one for front-end development, one for mobile, one for leadership, etc. The reason is that you will likely want to emphasize certain things throughout that prototype resume that don’t easily translate to the other types of jobs.
After you put this resume together, you can begin to adjust the way you apply to jobs. After you find a job, you take your prototype resume, and you make a new one tailored for that specific job.
Copy or extract the best elements from your prototype resume into the resume you’re putting together for that job.
It’s a lot easier to copy than it is to write again. The other benefit is that you’ll get the opportunity to re-read and refine those pieces as you copy them. Happen to find a better phrasing? Great, put it in your prototype and custom one. Then you get the benefits from this job and all the future ones.
You’ll likely notice that even though I’m telling you to customize for each job, that you are re-using the same core elements for each job type. That’s fine, and it’s natural that it happens. You still customize, but it may only be a few things instead of a new resume.
So what are some things you should look at customizing with your prototype resume? Probably the easiest one is to adjust your keywords.
Every job posting has a list of things they want you to know or do. Adjust your resume to ensure you have them there as appropriate. For example, if you’re applying for a mobile job and you have iOS, Swift, Android, Kotlin, etc. put those in there! Don’t send them a resume that buries those skills in favor of something like JBoss.
Also, as you read the job posting, you may get a sense of things they tend to value. In your experience section, see if you can’t better match those values with your bullet points. Most of the time, you’ll rely on the same handful of bullet points, but you can swap or add one that is a better fit every so often.
Alright, you’ve decided you’re going to negotiate and get some better compensation. If you’ve worked up the nerve to do this, you have to be prepared to answer the question, “Why are you worth the extra you’re asking for?”
The reason you’re worth extra is all that stuff they didn’t know about that you wrote in your prototype resume.
Up until now, they’ve decided to hire you based on your custom resume and your interview. They have no idea of all the other cool things you bring that you wrote in that resume. Use those items, tell those stories, show them that you have a lot more below the surface to offer.
I love the hidden potential of great resumes. Take some time to build a prototype resume for yourself. It’ll help you apply to jobs quicker, better, and get you ready to negotiate. For the amount of time it takes to build one, it has a pretty great payoff.
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