If you’re anything like me (and many of your fellow job seekers) you’re good at selling yourself short. You may not even realize it. Years of freelance hustle and direct sales copywriting have for the most part cured me of my tendency to downplay my accomplishments. And while I can’t pass that on in a post, I can show you how to write your resume with confidence, in a way that screams to recruiters “She’s the one! Interview her now!”
Most people, when they write a resume, approach it with a kind of checklist in mind. They make sure to match the skills and work experience to the required qualifications. They double and triple check their resume for spelling and grammar errors. They format it perfectly.
They receive very few interview invitations for their trouble.
Because most of the other applicants did the exact same thing! There’s nothing to set them apart from anyone else.
So who do the interviews go to? Applicants who show the recruiter why they’re special, what they have to offer the company.
How do you do that?
Write your resume from a mindset of “This is what I can do for you!” This applies to the entire resume in general, but particularly to the parts where you talk about previous work experience.
Talk about Your Accomplishments, Not Your Responsibilities.
The recruiter doesn’t care what your responsibilities were at your last job – beyond whether it makes you a fit for the current job. A sentence summarizing duties and functions will do. The real meat of the experience section is in the accomplishments you list.
What’s the difference between a responsibility and an accomplishment? Here’s an example:
But make a few additions to that boring little piece of text, and you get something like this:
‘Trained and mentored all new employees’ – is a responsibility. It says what you were responsible for doing in very general terms. Lots of resumes read like this – before they get tossed aside.
That’s an accomplishment! Not all applicant resumes will say that. Not all of them can.
‘Created new training system for new employees, resulting in 25% reduction in training time and 15% reduction in training costs’
If possible, give measurable details. Not just “I increased X and Y.” but “I increased X by 25%, and Y by 30% in Z months.” Including measurable details makes your accomplishments stand out, and helps the recruiter understand their significance.
Let’s look at another example:
This tells the recruiter nothing! How much did you reduce expenses by? Is that special, or something most people in your job could be expected to do?
‘Reduced expenses by minimizing waste and streamlining systems’
Anyone can say things like “minimized waste” or “streamlined systems.”
Not everyone can say: Reduced expenses by 35% by whatever it was you did to minimize the waste and streamline the systems.
Give Details on How You Did What You Did.
Did you cut out unnecessary steps in the process? Did you find a better way to do it? Put it in the resume as simply and clearly as you can.
You’re special. Let them know it! Show them what you can do that the other applicants can’t – or haven’t.
And be sure to give context where possible. Not just what you did, but what was going on at the time. Were there extenuating circumstances? Special challenges?
There’s a big difference between: ‘responsible for hiring and management of sales team’ and ‘built and trained a sales team from the ground up because there was none when I was hired.’
Note that you don’t want to make your previous employer look bad, but providing some context of what was going on while you were working there will help highlight your talents, while also demonstrating how you might fit in with your current employer.
It’s entirely possible the recruiter may say “That’s exactly the situation you’d be coming into here!” Knowing that you can handle that situation gives you the edge over other applicants who may have the exact same experience, but didn’t articulate it in their resume.
Writing Your Resume is Not the Time to Be Shy.
We’re told to make sure we don’t lie on our resumes. And that’s certainly good advice. But we also shouldn’t sell ourselves short. You have a lot to give for the employer smart enough to hire you. But they won’t be smart enough to hire you unless you help them. Show them how you were an asset to your previous employers, and they’ll see you as an asset for them as well.
You’ll get more interviews if you write your resume from the mindset: “This is what I can do for you.”