I’ve had a lot of calls lately regarding “resumes” – people are dusting ‘em off and getting ready for potential opportunities! I’ve reviewed quite a few of these high-level-over-achiever’s resumes and there seems to be a common theme….
A vast majority of the resumes I’m seeing are “responsibility oriented” vs. “achievement oriented” – they typically do not reflect the excellence or the essence of the person. Most people don’t see the problem. Let’s say you are in sales, as is your best friend, and the two of you have worked for the same set of companies your entire careers. If your resume is “responsibility oriented”, both resumes will look exactly the same (minus your name and address of course)!!! You know: cold call prospects; create proposals; generate new business; handled existing accounts; blah, blah, blah. This doesn’t feature/show the real you and it is incredibly boring!
If you really want the prospective employer to sit up and take notice of your resume….start by over-hauling/editing your resume with a “results/achievement-oriented” pen! Take the same example as above but this time list “achievements” instead of responsibilities, like: averaged 10 new Fortune 500 clients per year; stack-ranked #3 out of 148; grew the territory 110% year 1, 150% year 2, and 130% year 3 …and on and on and on. See the difference? Non-sales people complain they don’t have metrics to list. I challenge you to think outside the box! What about: mentored 3 new hires who achieved their quotas; or brought 2 new products to market resulting in $2 million in additional revenue; or scored 8.9 in Customer Satisfaction; or decreased production time/material waste/personnel turnover by 10% resulting in $50,000 in cost savings? …take your pick! It sounds different doesn’t it? Much more powerful, right? OK, so that’s the first thing. [Note: this is the most difficult part of "creating a resume that pops", it is time-consuming, requires introspection, thought, and creativity....many people give up before the start...don't be one of them!]
Secondly, here’s a perspective on the average hiring authority reading your resume…typically 30-45 seconds the first time through…30-45 SECONDS…so make the most out of it. You know the half to full-page dissertation/summary you have at the top? Often, it gets bypassed so they can get to the real stuff. The “real stuff”, the meat, is your job history/background. Do not spend more than a third, maximum, a half, of this very-precious-resume-real-estate with a summary/summary bullets. Focus on making your experience really highlight you in the best possible way with an achievement-oriented background/experience section.
Third, if your resume is vague, know you will not get a callback. Usually vagueness means something is not being said, and there isn’t enough curiosity or patience to dig in further…NEXT! By the way, I see this a lot with “Education”. By not listing the dates, companies assume things…like you are hiding something, and the assumptions are usually not in your favor. Beleive it or not the assumption they often make is that you did not actually graduate!!!
Next, Standard Format is still preferred….summary/objective/whatever-you-want-to-list-as-your-opener at the top, then Experience (with a couple sentences outlining the type of company and your main responsibility followed by BULLETS highlighting your achievements), followed by Education, and then Associations, Hobbies, etc.
Finally, going back to the fact that only 30-45 seconds is spent reading the resume – HELP THE READER READ THE STUFF YOU WANT THEM TO READ!!! Here’s an idea, go through your achievement-oriented bullets and highlight, or should I say “bold” the phrases (not the entire bullet statement) that they should focus on. The bolding will help them zip through the important stuff that shows who you really are!
One more thing…when all else fails, if you’re wondering if something does or does not belong, ask yourself the question “Who Cares?” So, (back to the sales example) the cold calling you did in 1992 – who cares? – it is a given and doesn’t offer a lot of relevance to today since you have “graduated” to other sales positions that require cold-calling.
Good luck with your re-write and your job search…make that resume POP!