Do you find yourself shaking your head and thinking that the people who are reading your résumé must be idiots? Why can’t they see that you are the perfect candidate for the job?
Why don’t they get that you have done exactly what they are asking for in your current or previous position? What is wrong with them?
Why don’t they call?
Employers do not care what you were hired to do. They want to know what value you added to give them an indication of what you can do for them
Nothing is wrong with them and they are not idiots. They are good people who are completely inundated with hundreds of résumés for one single position.
It is frustrating, I know. It is not my intent to add to the frustration in saying this next statement:
The disconnect may not be from the reader, but in the reading.
In other words, it just might be your résumé, specifically, your experience section, that tells them not to call.
Value versus job description
Take a look at your résumé and focus on the experience portion. Read through it quickly, not from the mentality that it is yours, but from a removed prospective as someone looking for a candidate.
Now answer this question: Did you just read a job description?
Too often previous or current positions are listed on a résumé as a job description, detailing what you were hired to do.
We need to change that into points that clearly demonstrate your value.
To be direct: Employers do not care what you were hired to do. They want to know what value you added to give them an indication of what you can do for them.
They are looking for people that have skills and value to bring to the table, not just show up at work.
Making the transition
Let’s break this down in an easy to follow methodology and not entirely recreate the wheel.
We will start with what you have currently listed on your résumé.
For each bullet point, write at the end of the sentence “which resulted in…” and finish the thought. Each action you list on your résumé has value, and if it does not it should not be listed.
To complete the sentence think about who or what benefited by you performing the task. It could be a process, a division, clients, team members or the organization.
Now let’s beef it up a bit, let’s think about the tasks you did and how you improved them.
It’s human nature to find a simpler, easier way to perform tasks. You can call it being lazy; I call it improving efficiency.
So what did you change to make your life easier in doing any task? This is an improvement and something you can list on your résumé.
Now let’s think about who you interact with. Who do you work with, how, what do you do, how do you do it, who benefits and in what way?
Let’s say one of your responsibilities is running a report. Sounds simple enough and you may even have it listed as “create weekly reports” or something as non-descriptive.
We need to break it down to build it up.
Think about how you create the report. Where do you gather the information? What system or process do you use in translating data?
Who do you give it to and how – do you email them, print it out or verbally discuss it with them? What is their role?
Now let’s take it a step further. Why do you run the report? How does the individual, team or division utilize the report? Is it used for assessment or forecasting? What role does it play in the next step?
Take all this information and put it into a new bullet point. Phrases and words you can add in could include:
- gather data from X departments
- create weekly X report utilized by X Manager
- forecast monthly goals
- evaluate existing status and strategy
- communicate analyses and outcomes
Now we have gone from a task bullet to a value bullet.
Writing takes more than one take
When you are revising your experience bullet points, do not try to write them the first go round in résumé language. You will either get stuck very early on or you will create a phenomenal bullet and then become discouraged that nothing else sounds as good.
Write it as though you were having a conversation. Get the most of your information as you can and then go back to clean it up.
I am a professional résumé writer and I never write a first draft in résumé language. My first drafts are a mess and combination of styles of writing and speaking.
It is most important that I get the information down first and then go back to modify.
This is not easy to do. Give yourself a break if it takes a few times to get just one bullet right. Do not beat yourself up when writing it; actually, take yourself out of it all together.
Think about it from the perspective of the reader. What are you telling them: a duty you performed or value that you brought?
It is your story. Tell them in a way that they understand and can see you in that new position.
About the Author
Lisa K. McDonald is Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. She is a speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US on personal branding, networking and creating executive presence and success.