Posted by Brian McCullough
If you have career or job search question you would like answered on this blog, click here to Ask Brian.
Reader Jens from San Francisco writes:
“Last week you had a post you called your number one job search tip. [the post he’s referring to is this one] Well, if you’re a resume writing expert, how about giving us your number one resume writing tip.”
Brian answers after the break:
Ok. That’s an easy one. Here’s the number one thing you can do to write a better resume:
Show, don’t tell!
Wow. You could almost put that on a bumper sticker. I should trademark it.
Actually, I borrowed the phrase from screen writing books.
But the idea for resume writing purposes is simple: too many people make their resume into a boring list of their previous responsibilities. They spend too much time describing their previous jobs, duties, titles, etc.
Now, showing you’re qualified is certainly something you want to do in your resume, so a certain amount of time spent talking about your previous duties and responsibilities is necessary.
But don’t forget to show results. I’m talking about tangible accomplishments. Impressive facts. Think along the lines of “Increased sales x% in 6months.” Or “Cultivated and landed in the largest account in the firm’s history.” Or “Decreased overhead expenses 24% without any loss of personnel.”
You want to pepper your resume with tangible accomplishments. You want to convince the person reading your resume that if you’re hired, you’re going to get results. I would say that a good resume is 20% details (your name, number, who you worked for, work dates, education, etc.) 40% description (what you’ve done at previous jobs, what your qualifications are) and 40% accomplishments (all of what I’ve said above, plus awards won, etc.). Use bullet points to highlight specific things accomplished at each job. Maybe highlight your best results in a specific “Career Highlights Section” above your work history.
The problem I see with most resumes is not enough focus is given to tangible accomplishments. Sometimes people leave the results out entirely because they are afraid to toot their own horn too much. That drives me crazy. This is your resume! You’re trying to sell yourself! Toot away!
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