January is a tough time to get aggressive about a job search that got stalled back in November, but it’s the right time to re-start your engines. What can you do that you’ve not already done? Get back to basics.

In an effort to have the best resume on the planet you may have over-stuffed it with every experience you’ve had.

As a result, you’ve produced a document that’s over-written and under-edited. Here’s my advice: leave it alone for a week. Then approach it with the objectivity of the reader and not the writer.

Ask yourself the questions interviewers immediately pose:

What is this person looking for in a job?

If it’s unclear because you appear to do all things for all people, set the reader straight with your career objective: This is the job I do best and what I want to do for you.

Let go of your Summary Statement. It restates the obvious. Less is more, and less is what the reader has time for.

What has this person accomplished?

If the reader can’t separate your accomplishments from your responsibilities, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to sell your best stuff.

Sum up your duties, emphasize your achievements, and be sure you can verify, quantify and justify everything you take credit for having completed.

Why should I interview this person?

There has to be a compelling reason that sets you apart from the competition. To find it, identify companies whose needs match your strengths, with problems you want to solve, profits you want to increase and a bottom line you want to improve.

Then write a compelling, honest, forthright cover letter that makes your case.

Get ready for prime time because when that time comes, you’ll need to know what to say and how to say it. For that, you’ll need outside help.

Find friends, family, and former colleagues whose candid perspectives will help you most and ask them to pepper you with questions regarding your background, goals and technical expertise.

Look them in the eye when you respond to their questions about your job history, salary history, companies you left and companies that left you.

Tell your story truthfully, again and again, so the words spring as easily from your heart as they do from your head. That’s what sets you apart from whoever is in second place.

Get comfortable in your skin; breathe deeply and exhale fully, exercise, eat right, sleep well, talk with people whose backgrounds and experiences interest you. Do volunteer work. Make a difference to people who didn’t know you existed until you made it clear that you did and that you could.

Network from the first day of your search to the last minute of your retirement party. Search for people whose values you share, styles and talents you want to emulate and learn how they made things happen. Find out how they overcame tough times, and succeeded against the odds. Listen to their life lessons. Listen as deeply as you can, because if you’re willing to work as hard, you might be listening to your story, right before you live it.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Contact Joyce Richman at 336-288-1799 and joyce@joycerichman.com.