One of the most common questions I get as a hiring manager goes something like this: “I’ve sent out my resume to dozens (or even hundreds) of job openings and haven’t received a single response or offer to interview. What’s wrong? Could it be my resume?”
If you too have doubts about the effectiveness of your resume, perhaps it’s time to tune it up. I have several recommendations for improving your resume and in this post I’ll talk first about my favorite one, which is this: state your experience in terms of accomplishments, not just activities.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s assume you’re a sales representative in the Widgets industry and you’re looking for a new position. You’ve prepared your resume, complete with a variety of “bullet statements” about your experience. One of your typical bullet statements reads something like this:
“Responsible for all sales and customer service in California, Oregon and Washington. Promote 14 different product lines and provide technical service and support to over 80 customers.”
Looks good? While at first glance this might appear to be a good statement that indicates solid sales experience, the problem with it is that it’s incomplete. As a hiring manager, it tells me what you did but NOT whether or not you were successful at it. It other words, it tells me nothing about your accomplishments. Take a look at the following rewrite.
“Increased sales last year in California, Oregon and Washington by 19%. 12 of my 14 product lines grew at twice the overall company average. Added 9 new customers and increased the “very satisfied” customer service rating from 71% to 92%.”
This is now a much more powerful statement because it frames your experience in terms of accomplishments, not just activities. I estimate that only about 20% of the resumes I read include specific accomplishments. The other 80% merely give a laundry list of duties with no indication of whether or not those duties were performed effectively. The 20% that do take the extra step of telling me their accomplishments are always the ones I consider first.
In today’s very competitive job market, the person reading your resume may spend less than 30 seconds in deciding whether or not it gets put in the “candidates to consider” stack. If your resume isn’t getting the results you want, give it a tune up and add accomplishment to your experience wherever possible. It may just make the difference between getting an interview and getting passed over.
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