Are You Sending a Powerful Resume... or a Dull Job Description?
With a seemingly infinite number of approaches, styles and formats out there, all suited to specific industries and positions, you need to choose the resume that puts you closer to your intended result – which I presume is landing the gig of your dreams.
So… spoiler alert: I’m not here to tell you how to write your resume.
I am, however, going to show you one way not to write it.
Tell me if this looks or sounds familiar:
Sales Associate, Store XYZ
- Handled cash
- Re-stocked shelves and logged inventory
- Resolved customer issues
- Completed paperwork
- Cleaned up store before closing
Pretty dull, standard stuff, right?
Think about it: if I’m Company ABC and I’m reading a resume written like this, what value are you as a fresh-out-of-school young professional demonstrating in terms of being able to solve the problems I’ve got? Can you point to any measurable or specific results that will lead a hiring manager to propel your resume to the top of their entry-level pile? (Hint: it’s a huge pile).
Unfortunately, the odds are pretty slim. Everybody in retail handles cash, puts in time with customers, fills out forms and wields a mean mop. So all a recruiter hears when reading this resume: “Blah, blah, blah…”
But what if you sat down and thought about what you really accomplished at some of your first few jobs. You know, the ones that everybody thinks “meh, it’s just a coffee shop – who’s going to hire me because I worked at (insert big brand chain here).”
The truth is that it’s not the fact that you flipped burgers or stocked shelves that’s keeping you distant from your dream gig… it’s your resume.
Because even though we’ve all at one time or another been tasked with seemingly mundane responsibilities, it’s about a) how we do our jobs and b) how we position ourselves afterwards.
What if we positioned ourselves like this, instead?
Sales Associate, Store XYZ
- Maintained an orderly yet engaging point-of-sale area while serving approx. (insert # of customers) per shift
- Streamlined shelf-stocking process by creating new inventory recording document
- Reduced store’s complaint rate by (insert %) through relationship-building via genuine concern for customer satisfaction
- Processed end-of-day sales and logged cash out upwards of (insert $ amount)
- Awarded “Cleanest Store in the Region” certificate for three straight months
Each one of these revised bullets - while maybe wordy for some - not only mentions the skills you have (i.e., tasks you were hired to perform), but more importantly, provides evidence of the results you achieved.
And therein lays the fundamental difference between a resume and what most people submit: a well-formatted job description.
Employers aren’t interested in hearing that you handled customer issues or worked a cash register – but they do want to know that you won an Employee of the Month Award for your efforts, or that you exceeded your sales goal by 124%. These types of specific, measurable impacts can be extrapolated into their line of business, and from there, it’s much easier to match their needs with your accomplishments.
Through our resumes, we have to use language, the power of story and an appealing style to elevate our personal brands and demonstrate value to employers. You have to start thinking as a hiring manager who’s got too little time and too many problems to solve:
What types of results would you be looking for in potential new employees?
Are you more likely to hire a candidate who has only put in the time to jot down a sampling of their day-to-day responsibilities? Or are you seeking someone who can demonstrate their impact and is clear on the importance of results?
Your resume must showcase your character, work ethic, core philosophies, passions, and the reasons why you’re perfect for whatever position you’re chasing. In today’s job market, simply blurting out that you were present at a certain location and assigned a list of daily tasks to complete is not good enough!
Stop submitting resumes that are no better than the dull job descriptions employers spit out. Instead, focus on what you achieved… and how your past performance will help your next organization.
A powerful resume: that is how you get your dream gig.
How often do you review/edit your resume? Is there a particular format or strategy you use when designing your resume? Feel free to discuss in the Comments section below!
*Originally published on March 3, 2015 for YouTern.com*