Your resume is one of the most important documents in your career portfolio. Any given hiring manager or recruiter will only scan it for 15-30 seconds so you need to make sure it screams, “Here’s what I can do for you!”
There’s a huge difference between a resume that showcases your soft skills and characteristics and one that qualifies specific achievements and accomplishments.
Way too many resumes are filled with fluff statements anyone can say and they don’t really distinguish you from the rest of the folks in the slush pile. You need to make yourself STAND OUT.
A resume filled with BUZZWORDS like “visionary”, “motivated”, “team player”, “problem solver”, “results-oriented”, “dynamic”, and other catchy phrases are examples of the overused and abused.
Please, avoid creating a resume full of with fluff. Turn those items into marketable facts with HARD HITTING numbers.
1. Don’t use terms that describe character. Generally, your character is NOT in question if you’ve made it past the first round. Replace the terms that describe your character with specific content, demonstrating how you accomplished a savings or achieved a desired end to a project. Show, don’t tell about your method of execution.
For example: Show you were “results-oriented”, by indicating on your resume how you increased sales for your company by XXX percent within a given time frame or grew the number of attendees to an annual conference by XXX percent by comparison to the previous year. If you don’t have the hard numbers, you can use approximations as percentages: “Introduced new product line that increased visual hits online by approximately 20%.”
2. Quantify and Qualify
Numbers and symbols translate to recognition with employers, so use them whenever you can. Resumes have their own special rules and codes, so always show all numbers as digits ~ they will catch the eye better. Percentages are built to show the impact of your efforts and make your statements LEAP off the page.
An example is: “Increased sales $1 million over 2009 fiscal year”, is a nice way to put it, but to some companies that is petty cash and your company might not like your giving out their private information. A betterway to state it would be: “Increased sales 43% over prior year.”
3. Responsibilities of your previous jobs don’t matter, because everyone that has applied had some of them. Try to demonstrate the outcomes of what you did. Writing the responsibilities you held on a particular job doesn’t tell an employer how successful you were. It only tells them what was expected of someone at your position at your previous company. Save the particulars of this list for your skills set list, because an employer only cares about how good you did your job and how what you did can apply to the job they are offering.
Were you the most senior member of your team? How did you achieve that level?
Did people turn to you for the more challenging issues? Were you the “GURU” in your office?
Was your productivity level higher than your peers? Where did you rank?
Did you resolve issues on the first call versus others needing 2-3 calls? Are you a “one stop shop”?
Was your level of accuracy and the quality of your work at the highest level?
Did you demonstrate the ability to meet aggressive deadlines? Describe some of these challenges.
Statements like “Recognized quarterly over three years as the number one representative for delivering quality results at less cost than budgeted”, showcases your effectiveness even when you don’t have the actual numbers (qualitative statement).
4. Only detail specialized technical skills, or better yet, try to uncover what systems they use in your research and detail your experience with those tools.
All of today’s employers expect candidates to have basic computing skills and programs, so only list specialized technical skills that are relevant for the job. An employer does not need to see you know programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint unless you have special certifications or designations in those programs (IT positions come to mind).
When you do list a technical skill, demonstrate to an employer how well you know the program or system by detailing what you may have created or did with it. Simply listing specific programs will not help an employer understand how well you know them or what your capabilities are.
Fill your resume with “Show, Don’t Tell”, qualitative and quantitative statements instead of fluff and you will see a marked improvement in your job search results and interview requests.