After a summer off, I’m excited to relaunch today with a new series devoted to one of everybody’s favorite topics – themselves. Or, more accurately, their career. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of career coaching and I’ve noticed some things. Not exactly trends, but more like consistent issues.
As we find ourselves heading into back to school season, I thought it would be fun to go back to basics on your career, too. Hiring hasn’t really slowed down much this summer and we are still a few months away from the end of year dead zone. Now is the perfect time to put yourself out there and find that next great opportunity. If you are thinking about it or you are already in the job market, this series is for you.
Lesson #1 – Your Resume.
The first thing most any hiring manager or recruiter will know of you is what is on your resume. It is important that it tells the best possible version of your career story. Most screeners and recruiters will only spend a couple of minutes looking at it before they decide if you are worth a phone call. The purpose of your resume is to get you that phone call.
While there will always be some subjectivity in any resume review, there are three key elements that will greatly increase the chances of your resume prompting that recruiter or hiring manager to pick up the phone. So pull out your resume and look at it through the eyes of a recruiter. Ask yourself, how clearly do these three elements show up on the page?
Element #1: Focus on Action
Without exception, the most common mistake on most every resume I read (and I’ve read thousands), is the lack of action or activity. Most resumes tend to read more like job descriptions. They tell the story of the job, but not of the person in the job – you.
As a general rule, the job title you list on your resume will tell me all I need to know about the responsibilities of the role. What I need to know is what you were able to accomplish in that role. Take a look at these examples:
|Instead of this…||Say this…|
|Responsible for all aspects of recruiting.||Reduced time to fill by an average of 3 days per role.|
|Provided tier 1 technical support.||Increased first call resolution by 15% over six months.|
|Managed multiple customer accounts.||Increased total sales by 20% by growing existing customer accounts.|
You get the idea.
The first column is descriptive. The second column is active.
The first column is vague. The second column is specific.
The first column is generic. The second column is personal.
As a recruiter or hiring manager, I care less about what you were responsible for and much more about what you accomplished. Tell me about what you were able to contribute and how you did what you did, not just what your boss told you to do. I need to get an image of how you approach your work. That picture is what helps me determine if you fit into what I have open.
Wherever possible, lead with an action word that describes your result and follow it up with the actual result. And always, always, always write your resume in first person. Experts calls this the human voiced resume. You are telling your story. It is personal. First person makes your storytelling that much stronger.
Element #2: Leverage the Data
Once you lead with the action, wherever possible, you need to incorporate real data into the statements. Please don’t make things up here. This is not the opportunity to “embellish” your resume. Point to actual results and provide the context or time-frame for the data.
For example, “Increased first call resolution by 15%” is a strong statement, but adding the time descriptor, “within six months” makes the statement that much stronger. Context to the data is important. Add just enough to describe the impact.
Why is this important? Because every single business who is looking to hire is concerned about one thing above all others – bottom line results. We know that there are numerous data points reflected in any bottom line, so where did your role influence a metric that ultimately translates to the bottom line? That’s where you want to shine a light.
Data gives your resume weight and credibility. It demonstrates that you understand what drives the business you are a part of. It signals to a hiring manager that you are able to deliver results. That’s what every manager is after in the hiring process, the right person to deliver the right results.
Element #3: Describe the Impact
If there is a secret to the secret sauce of resume writing, this is it. Whatever else you do, you need to be thinking in terms of impact. What is, or was, the impact of your work in a particular job.
If you’re not sure how to describe that, answer the “So What?” question. You were a customer service rep for a big company. So what? What did you do in that role to make an impact on your employer’s business, customers, other employees, or bottom line? The answer to the “So What?” question helps you describe the impact you made. That’s the story you need to tell.
When I read that you were able to increase repeat customer traffic by focusing on customer care and increasing customer satisfaction rates, I learn that you know how to take care of customers. I also learn that you know what will help increase sales for a business. At that point, I can reasonably believe that you will deliver similar results in my position. Even if the positions are not exactly the same, what you’ve accomplished in the past is a reasonable predictor of what you will be able to accomplish in the future.
The more clearly you can describe the impact of your work – of your presence – the more of my attention you will capture. When you capture my attention, I am far more likely to pick up the phone. And if I pick up the phone, you’re one step closer to landing that next gig.
Does Your Resume Make the Grade?
How does your resume stack up? How well do these three elements show up in your story? What could you do today to make it even better?
If you’d like some help, complete the contact form here and request a Resume Review. If you mention that you read the blog, I’ll send you a complementary critique. You can also book one of my other service offerings you can find listed here.
Next week, we’ll turn our attention to search strategy…just how do you know where to send this new and improved resume, anyway?