Writing a winning resume is more than putting a few well worded lines on paper. It’s more than turning a phrase to spin experience in a certain direction. It’s about more than simply getting the reader’s attention.
It’s about showing, not telling, a potential employer what you can do.
Recruiters and potential employers are not impressed when you tell them you have strong communication skills. They want to see examples of your “strong communication skills” in action. They want to see how you’ve used them to solve a problem; be that improving customer service, increasing morale, growing market share, an so on.
That’s why every professional resume writer will tell you that achievement-based resumes are the best way to generate calls. Resumes that focus on your accomplishments—times that you’ve made money, saved money, saved time, etc. —are what inspire employers to schedule an interview.
Most resume writers use some form of the CAR approach with their clients. That’s Challenge, Action, Result.
Begin by thinking about your last few positions. How were things when you joined the company? What problems came up during your tenure? What obstacle were in your path?
If there are no surprises when you come on board, something always comes up along the way. You may have run into outdated systems, low morale, poor customer service, declining sales, etc. These are your challenges.
Then move on to the actions. What did you do to make things better or solve a problem or generate revenue? Maybe you selected new software and migrated the data with no down time. Perhaps, you resolved customer service issues by retraining the staff. These are your actions.
Discerning your actions when you were part of a team takes a little more thought. You need to acknowledge the team’s success. But, you also need to highlight what you brought to the project that helped the team succeed.
Finally, you’re ready to talk about the results. Try to quantify the results whenever possible with dollars, percentages, etc. Even if you’re not in a position that generated income you’ve probably made a significant difference in other ways. For example, maybe you redesigned and/or automated the expense-report process so that instead of taking 5 days a month it now takes only 2. That’s worth mentioning.
Go through this process for each of your last few jobs. Come up with 3 to 5 achievements so you’ll have a few choices when writing your resume. Don’t go back more than 10 to 15 years.
Remember, things that are part of your job are not challenges. If you’re a manager, managing the team is not an accomplishment unless there are special circumstances. For example, if you came in during high turnover or leadership changes and you still were able to lead your team to success. That’s an accomplishment. If you are overseeing the team’s daily activities, that’s not.
Writing a resume isn’t easy. One of the most important things to remember is that your resume should be a marketing tool, designed to sell you to a potential employer. Not a record of your past employment.
Use the CAR approach to uncover your accomplishments. Take your time. Dig deep. Doing this will take a lot more time, but the results will be worth it.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
About the author
Annette Richmond is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW) and former recruiter. She has written articles for career-intelligence and other sites including TalentCulture, 85Broads, LinkedIn and Forbes Woman. Her career management advice has been featured in many media outlets including Business Insider, Vault.com, Monster.com, and The Wall Street Journal. Annette also regularly contributes to a number of weekly career-related chats on Twitter. Check out her resume writing and career services here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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