There’s no worse feeling than when you finish writing your resume, go back to re-read it, and find that it just doesn’t speak to how valuable you are.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve experienced this – resume writing is not easy! Unless you are a certified career coach, it’s tough to know how to write your career story in a way that will make the hiring manager drop everything, pick up the phone, and call you in for an interview.
When speaking to our members, we find that they have incredible accomplishments and achievements, however, they haven’t expressed them in the most exciting way possible. This is often because of two reasons:
- They (mentally) fill in the gaps. When writing a resume, our mind naturally tells the story of how we overcame insurmountable odds, launched a new product under budget and ahead of schedule, or created record breaking sales. But that doesn’t always make it on to the resume.
- They write for themselves, not the reader. Remember that you are not the reader – HR is, the Hiring Manager is, the CEO is. Scan through your resume and as you read each bullet point, ask yourself: “What’s in it for them?” A bullet point that reads “Managed 10 Direct Reports” is great, but all it tells the reader is that you have managed ten reports. It doesn’t speak to how well you managed them or what you and your team achieved (and furthermore, can you do this for the reader).
So when we write a resume that doesn’t seem to show the true impact, it’s usually because we aren’t providing enough (or any) context.
By adding proper context, you frame achievements in a way that completes a story for the reader. It does this by providing not only the action you took, the result that came from your action (like a classic Problem- Action- Result Story), but it also shows the greater impact for the organization.
(To check if the bullet points on your resume will capture the reader’s attention, use the ‘so what test.’)
Here are two examples of how you can provide greater context to your story, and in turn, show your value to employers.
- When you’ve reversed loss/poor performance
Did you generate $1MM in sales within the first six months of starting? Impressive! But can you add more context to make this accomplishment even more exciting?
For example: “Generated $1MM and reversed two years of declining sales within six months of starting by aligning the sales and marketing teams’ strategy.”
- When you work for a smaller company or department
You may have been a territory manager for one company where $10M in sales was no big deal, followed by a VP of Sales for a smaller company where $1M is a new record. In this scenario, contextualization helps the reader understand that even though you may have generated less in sales, you’ve raised the bar substantially!
Did your efforts help the company stay above water during a critical moment? Did it help them achieve revenue targets to receive funding? Find ways to add impact to your already impressive accomplishments so the reader can visualize the story.
When you finish writing your resume, ask a colleague or career advisor to take a look and provide an honest opinion: does your resume show how valuable you are to employers? Or does it only manage to scratch the surface?