3 steps on how to start your professional materials

It's hard to believe it's already December. Eleven months gone by in a flash and you're cringing that the New Year's resolutions you set at the beginning of 2017 are only half complete (at best). Why didn't you keep up those morning runs? Why didn't you read one book per month? Why didn't you get out of that soul-sucking job?

That last one is what drags you down day after day. We get it though, it's hard to get started on the job search when there's so much to get in order.

This year will be different because Write For The Job has three steps to help you get all your professional materials in check so you can be prepared for whatever's to come in 2018.

1. Create a goal.

Are you refurbishing your professional materials to find a new job? What type of job? Is it a pivot from what you are currently doing?

If you're not looking for a new job, are you trying to professionalize your online identity? If someone is impressed with you and asks on a whim to see your resume or they go to your Linkedin profile, do you want to eliminate the stress of scrambling to update it?

Setting a goal for why you are redesigning your professional materials will drive your productivity and set intention for every adjustment you make to your professional package. Your goal will guide you in writing a concise and punchy summary at the top of your resume; your goal will guide you in using the right verbs to describe your work experience.

"Setting a goal for why you are redesigning your professional materials will drive your productivity."

2. List skills that you have mastered.

On a separate document, list skills that you feel you have mastered and would like to highlight throughout your professional materials. These are points you can weave into your resume, cover letter, and Linkedin profile respectively. You will not only feature some of these in your "Skills" section on your resume and Linkedin profile, but you can also incorporate more of them into the descriptions of roles you have held.

Having difficulty identifying which skills you want to feature? If you are looking for a new job, identify key skills in positions you would like to apply for and match skills you already have with the skills candidates should have. Incorporate these skills into your professional materials. If you are not looking for a new position, check out the job description on your current role or a similar role and do the same exercise.

3. Tackle your resume first.

Think of your professional materials like a luxury high rise in Manhattan. You have the eye-catching architecture that appeals to each person passing by (your Linkedin profile), the contents inside with beautiful apartments (your cover letter), and the foundation and structure the holds it all together (your resume).

Your Linkedin profile is the architecture that catches everyone's eye from the outside. People can see who you are at a glance. Aside from listing your past positions and work, Linkedin provides a platform to showcase recommendations from previous bosses or colleagues and list skills that others can endorse. Just like wanting your high rise apartment to be in a prime location, you want as much traffic going to your profile as possible. On Linkedin, you do this by publishing blog posts or sharing articles related to your professional brand to bring people to your profile. Linkedin has features that pique recruiters' or hiring managers' interests and can lead to them wanting to see more.

Your cover letter is the inside of the luxury high rise, showing people why they will be even more impressed with you. In your cover letter, you choose 2-3 anecdotal examples of how you bring a unique set of skills to work each day. It's also the place where you can add a little more of your personality. You don't have to be rigid, just make sure you're still professional! This is the place where you elaborate -- in a very strategic way -- how you add value.

Your resume is the foundation and structure of your professional materials package that keeps everything standing. It is the core content of your professional materials package. You list your work experience, awards, and community service. You prove that your work has yielded results and is a strong testament to what you bring to the table. How you shape your resume lays the foundation of whether or not someone wants to learn more about you.

Because your resume is the framework for your professional materials package, begin by revamping your CV.

Start 2018 putting your best foot forward. You never know what opportunities might unexpectedly come your way, and it's important to be ready.

Sarah Sax is the Founder of Write For The Job.

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