Let’s have a shout out – who likes to read resumes?
That’s what I thought. Now imagine if you had to read resumes – a lot of resumes – to find the right person for your organization. How much would you enjoy your day?
Why do resumes have such a bad rap? Let’s take a look at some resume language that is very common:
“Experienced XYZ looking to use my leadership and MNO skills to improve blah, blah, blah…”
“Responsible for we have already lost interest in whatever this might be….”
Or how about bullet points that are a recap of the job description:
- Organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity
- Supervise employees and provide feedback and counsel to improve efficiency and effectiveness
- Maintain relationships with partners/vendors/suppliers
- Gather, analyze and interpret external and internal data and write reports
- Assess overall company performance against objectives
Ugh! It’s all a big snooze fest. Not only is it boring, it is painful to read. Why? Because, in essence, the person hasn’t told you anything and it doesn’t even sound like a person!
There are two critical elements that every resume needs to get – and hold – the attention of the reader. Your value and your voice.
Please, please, please stop using your job description as your bullet points. That is telling the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Instead, use these as a starting point.
For example: organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity.
There is no ROI in that statement. It is missing your value. Expand on that by answering who you worked with, how, what you did and how productivity was maximized. Give metrics if possible, if not, describe the before and after.
I want to meet the organization who’s operations are simple enough for one bullet point. Really? Operations covers quite a bit of ground so break it out – show your value across the whole stream. There will be more value and beneficiaries. These could be the company, clients, processes, team, or an individual.
That is a lot of ground to cover – start writing it out. The more the merrier. It gives you more to play with when you are ready to start ruthlessly editing.
Which leads right into the second critical component: your voice
Please, please, please stop trying to write in ‘resume language’. It sounds unnatural and fluffy full of filler words. Your resume should speak to the reader and it should sound like you. Most of us do not litter our conversations with hundred dollar words when a ten cent-er will do.
Start with the dime conversation. Write out what you do as though you were talking to a real person. Go into detail, be natural, and use words that feel right to you. Don’t even think about putting it in a resume yet, just talk/write like a real person.
Once you get a mound of information, now the fun begins! Time to slice and dice. Look for commonalities that you can group. Is there a shorter way of expressing those two sentences? Ask yourself, what is the real point of these sentences, what do I most want them to know? Start there, then fill in the how’s.
Don’t take anything you do for granted. You may think everyone does what you and the way you do. They don’t. How you approach, solve, or plow through processes or projects is what makes you different.
Differentials are golden. Polish that gold by using your voice. Enhance your voice by using a thesaurus. “Manage” and “responsible for” get old quick. The thesaurus is your friend!
Keep editing, trimming and making sure your words are in there. That is how your voice will come through.
Oh, let’s not forget the keywords. These are critical for a little thing called ATS. Applicant Tracking Software. That is the wonderful tool that most companies use to screen your resume. They are looking for those keywords to qualify or disqualify you for the position.
The best place to find keywords is the job description. Where do you think the ATS gets them?
Just to make it more fun, ATS is getting smarter. It used to be that it only counted the number of key words in the resume. Now some software has evolved to be able to understand concepts. For example, if it is a project manager job, one camp of ATS is looking – and counting – ‘project management’. The second camp of ATS understands context. It knows that “Managed this project” means project management and it counts.
Incorporate the keywords – and your words – into value rich bullet points. The result will be a resume that the reader will understand and want to find out more.
I 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.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★