Create a Smart Resume

By: Peter Weddle

A career expert explains how to revamp your resume to show that you're an intelligent worker.

Faced with an uncertain economy and expanding member needs, associations are now seeking employees who can make a difference on the job from day one. They describe these individuals as A-level performers or with the more general term "talent," but what employers really want is nothing more, or less, than smart workers.

Smart workers are always looking for ways to learn from their experience on the job. To them, every assignment, including the most mundane and ordinary, and every challenge, including the most demanding and frustrating, is a means of developing skills and knowledge.

Adding expertise isn't passive. Smart workers are learner-contributors. They seek new expertise in order to improve their performance at work. That's why employers are trying so hard to hire them. The challenge is that smart workers are hard to identify. Anyone can say they're smart, and many people do, but how do association recruiters know that applicants will actually perform that way on the job? How can you prove that you deserve that description?

First, you have to be state of the art in your profession. Then, you have to promote it using a "smart resume." Old-fashioned resumes are clearly not as effective. The goal of a smart resume is to portray its owner as a work in progress. It describes both what you have done in your career and what you are doing in your job search as a continuous record of learning.

How does a smart resume do this? First, it includes more information for each job description in the "Experience" section of your resume. After listing tasks you performed and accomplishments you achieved, conclude with a statement that begins, "What I learned." Next, list the skills and knowledge that you have acquired through your work experience. Your statement shouldn't run more than two lines, but it should be as explicit as possible in detailing how you grew and developed on the job

Second, a smart resume highlights your quest to add to your skills and knowledge even while you are looking for work. Why should you add to the pressure of a job search by enrolling in an academic course or training program at the same time? Because doing so tells employers you see yourself as a work in progress and take personal responsibility for acquiring additional expertise. The smart resume makes that point by including a description of your current development in the "Education" section with the annotation "Ongoing."

Finally, a smart resume leads with your strengths. Directly beneath your name and contact information, provide a "Qualifications Summary" that lists your key skills and knowledge. Begin the section with a statement such as, "An inquiring mind that is always learning."

Peter Weddle is the author of Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System and The Career Activist Republic. View Weddle's latest webinar on career fitness at

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If you're looking for the next step in your association management career or looking for high-quality candidates to fill open positions at your organization, check out—the best source of association jobs and resumes. In addition to helping you find your next job—whether it's as CEO, director of technology, or membership coordinator—ASAE's career services department offers such services as executive coaching, resume writing, and more. For more information, contact ASAE at [email protected].

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Peter Weddle

Peter Weddle is a leading job search expert and syndicated columnist. He is executive director of TA Tech the Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. This article originally appeared in his email newsletter, Weddle on September 3, 2015.