Manage. Responsible. Oversee. Blah, blah, blah.
These are words we often see in resumes but they are words that I call snooze words. Really, how excited do you get when you read:
- Manage a team of five.
- Responsible for Midwest Territory.
- Oversee client accounts.
I would venture to say not very excited. The words are boring and the sentences tell you nothing – nothing – about the individual or their value.
Not only do you want your resume read, you want it to mean something to the reader. The above bullets are void of meaning. They are job descriptions, i.e. what you were hired to do.
The problem with that is this: just because you were hired to do that, doesn’t mean you did it well.
The first part of waking up that resume is to dig a little deeper. What exactly does each one of those statements mean and what does it mean to the reader?
You are writing for the reader. Your main job is to answer their number one question: what can you do for me?
Let’s start with where we are – a boring, non-value statement. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who do I work with when I do this task?
- How do I work with them?
- What do I do?
- How does someone/thing benefit from my involvement?
Time to dig. What exactly does it mean to be “responsible” for a territory?
The Who: If you oversee a territory – who do you interact with? Do you have anyone that reports to you? Is there a budget? Or are you an individual sales – if so, who are your clients, partners or stakeholders?
The How: If you manage a team, how do you help them do their job better? If you are a solo sales, how do you build and maintain your client relationships? Do you have a hand in the budget?
The What: When you work with a team, what do you do to inspire them, eliminate problems for them, or improve their performance? For solo sales, what makes you better at what you do – what do you do differently than anyone else? What strategies or tactics have you employed that have benefited your clients, you or the company? If you work with the budget, how do you keep it in line or how do you save the company money?
The Value: Does the company benefit from the above by having an increase in client accounts or revenue? Did you save the company money? Does your team benefit from your coaching by posting better numbers? Does the company clients benefit because they get better service?
Dig, dig, dig. Keep asking questions about what is involved. Remember, everything you do has value to it or you would not be paid to do it. Write all these things in a conversational tone – do not try to write ‘resume’ at this point.
Now you might come up with something like this (for solo sales):
“I work with clients to help them understand the tax change. In the territory, the state changed its taxing structure from a flat rate to a weight based. This was a huge problem for our clients. I figured out how to work within the system in terms of ordering and inventory so that the new change wouldn’t impact them and it ended up saving them millions of dollars in both taxes and inventory – win-win!”
That is quite a bit for a bullet point, but that is okay, it is a great start! Now let’s get down to the fun stuff – trimming it down and making it meaningful.
Take the most important elements of your first paragraph: work with clients on strategy, tax changes, saving millions in inventory and taxes. This, my friends, is the basis of your bullet. We could say something like:
After tax changes, worked with clients on strategies that saved millions in inventory and taxes.
We could. But it is a bit boring, don’t you think? What is the most important part of this sentiment? That you saved clients millions in inventory and taxes. Then we should follow with the how. Grab your reader’s attention immediately with a benefit.
Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes – that is our beginning. Now the how: coming up with a strategy to counter the tax changes.
Ok, that might work, but I think we could punch it up a bit more…..
Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes by creating and implementing a strategy that countered recent tax changes.
Still a little boring. Also, we have an assumption in there. If it saved them millions, it is assumed it was implemented. How about….
Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes with a strategy that countered recent tax changes.
Not bad. Not great, but not bad. You know, we have some space here to talk about how that change was going to hurt them.
Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes with a strategy that countered recent tax changes from flat-rate to weight based.
Hmmm. It needs some punch and then I think we will have it.
Saved clients millions in inventory/taxes with strategy that thwarted crippling product tax change from flat-rate to weight-based.
Ahhh yes, that’s it.
The punch comes in the thwarting and crippling.
Here is the final step to get to the impact with punch – your friend and mine the thesaurus. I have at least three thesaurus references that I use. I like to play them off each other so they don’t start slacking.
My favorite is: http://www.synonym.com/synonyms. Simply type in a word and search. It provides definitions, synonyms, and antonyms. For any synonym in a blue box, just click on that word and it will repeat the process for it. Love it.
Next is good ol’ Merriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus. It comes with a definition, synonyms and related words. Also, a fun little word of the day – bonus!
Lastly, there is a visual tool, Graph Words: http://graphwords.com/. It spiders out similar words that you can click on to get a whole new visual.
These are a few great sites – if you know of or use something different – I would love to hear about it!
When you are finding new words, make sure to use words that resonate with you. By all means, if you are a more behind the scenes person, do not use a strong word like ‘revolutionary’ if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Find the right fit in describing your value with your voice. That is the winning combination! That is how you delineate your personal brand – your differentials.
All of these sites are free to use and can help put a little punch in your words for a more powerful resume. Or, as provided my friend the thesaurus, have a resume that is more potent, effectual, compelling, coercive, mighty…..
I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.
I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
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