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How To Write a ‘Hard-Working and Strategic’ Resume!

image As a Recruiter, I see a LOT of resumes. If I were to compile statistics of characteristics of the workforce based on resumes, I would find that the vast majority of today’s workers are:

  • Hard-Working
  • Strategic
  • Professional
  • Successful
  • Dynamic
  • Results Oriented
  • …and Highly Effective

That’s impressive! If only it were true! Whenever I see these, or other self-descriptive terms in a resume, my first reaction is “says you”! Although those are all admirable characteristics, it’s easy for anyone to say anything they want about themselves. When I look at a resume, I want to see evidence. I’m much more impressed by facts and figures that indicate those traits than someone simply using empty words.

People are often taught to write a Summary of themselves or their experience at the top of their resume. That can be an effective technique to create a brief snapshot of their skills and experience. However, very often, people use that space to list a string of self-descriptive words without anything to back them up. A much more effective use for that space is to very succinctly list specific accomplishments or experiences that create the same snapshot, but in a more credible way.

A line that states:
“A Sales Person with a track record of 4 consecutive years of 25% or greater sales growth”
is far more impressive than one that says:
”A highly successful, results oriented Sales Professional”.

A statement like:
”A Technology Professional that has completed the last 4 projects on-time and under budget”
is more effective than:
”A dynamic and hard-working Technology Professional”.

And even a phrase that says:
”An Administrative Support Professional with top percentile performance scores on Microsoft Office Applications”
is far more credible than:
”A highly effective Administrative Support Professional knowledgeable in office productivity software”.

Read through your resume, and think through specifics of your experience and accomplishments. Be sure you are primarily highlighting credible facts and figures that set you apart, rather than empty words that most others can (and do) use also.


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Clare said...

So true! I wrote a recent blog post about this:

My favourite "red flag" words: problem-solver, creative and flexible...

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW said...

This blog post is right on point. Show, don't tell!

I think part of the challenge for job seekers writing their own resume is they are overwhelmed (and driven too 'literally') by job descriptions that repeatedly knit in requirements for 'strategic leadership,' abilities as a 'visionary' or as an 'energetic top-performer,' abilities in 'creating inspiring visions to motivate employees,' records of 'strong success doing ABC,' and much more.

They feel compelled to lace their resumes with these adjectives and adverbs because they feel they must do so to meet some applicant tracking system requirement or some other reader expectations. This fear dooms a resume's impact.

Not only will a human eye read the resume at some point (so it needs to be written for a human reader), but adverbs and adjectives like 'successful,' 'results oriented' and 'strategic' aren't the primary keywords being searched by electronic or human eyes (as you so clearly articulated).

Meaty action statements with results and stories behind the results sell. Beyond that, the resume story should be nuanced to intersect with the reader's pain points, showing how the job seeker fixed problems similar to what the company s/he is targeting is facing/may be facing going forward (proof of future performance).

My 5 cents worth!


Peggy McKee said...

I agree! As a medical sales recruiter, I also want to see numbers on a resume...revenue, growth, units, customer increases, and so on. I made a video about it: http://www.phcconsulting.com/WordPress/2009/06/10/sales-resume-tips-you-must-have-numbers-s-on-your-resume/

Ed Han said...

I am completely in agreement. It's all about metrics!

RRRR_ TEE_Pirate said...

The series of articles were an eye-opener for me. I returned to school in my late 40's to learn a skill that would make me more marketable. I wish this type of information had been known to me when I began my job search! I now know that marketing myself and my skills is more like selling a house. You shouldn't rely on the imagination of others to see the potential, show it! Or in the case of a resume/interview state it! I think that it is safe to say that finding a job is the "current job" and needs to be pursued that way. Thanks for the fresh perspective and the new motivation. Look out career, here I come!
Thank you,

Pamela, Respiratory Therapist

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