Posted by Brian McCullough
A resume is a marketing document… a personal advertisement… it’s not a “form” or list of things you’ve done.
There. I’ve told you everything you need to know. You don’t need to read the rest of this post.
Unless you want to.
Cause here’s the thing. This is what people don’t get about writing a resume. This is why there are professional resume writers out there who charge money to craft your resume:
It’s not just a form or a list of duties. It’s a SALES JOB. A resume needs to sell you.
When companies want to sell their products, they try to find a compelling angle, a hook. (And more often then not, they hire outside professionals to help them, but that’s for another post, another time.) Very rarely do you see advertisements that just list the details of the product. You wouldn’t really want to sell soap by listing the ingredients, chemical by chemical.
I hate it when I see resumes that are just lists of duties. “My next job was at company XYZ. My title was such-and-such. I answered the phones, interacted with customers, filed reports, blah, blah, blah.”
Sure, part of a resume is a list of jobs and duties. But only part. You list what you’ve done only to give an idea of what your skill set is and what you have experience doing. You’re showing what you’re qualified for, based on your past career.
But the rest of the resume, the meat of the resume, is convincing the reader what you can do in the future. What you might be capable of if hired. It’s not about what you’ve done in the past.
You know my philosophy about winning the job by selling yourself as the solution to all the employer’s problems. You should lay the groundwork for this in your resume.
Make sure you list tangible and impressive accomplishments. I can’t stress the stressing of accomplishments enough. Saying, “I was in outside sales and managed an entire territory,” is fine. Following this up with a bullet point that says, “Over 3 years, increased sales 40% in a previously under-performing territory,” is much better. The first sentence just says what you’ve done. The second sentence sells your talents and suggests what you’re capable of achieving.
Try to form your accomplishments and skill sets into a compelling narrative, suggesting what you might be able to contribute to a new employer.
Most importantly, show, don’t tell. (see my previous post about this topic)
So, take a look at your current resume. Does it make an compelling argument for you to be hired? Does it read like an advertisement for your skills and potential? Or is it just a list of duties.
A list is not a resume. It’s just a list of stuff you’ve done.