Alumni often ask me what the trends are in resumes, expecting that there have been major developments in presenting one’s professional accomplishments. I hate to disappoint, but my resume looks pretty much the same as the one I developed four decades ago. Well, okay, it is longer, and I dropped my circa 1985 summer job mowing lawns, but from across the room, you might not be able to tell the difference between them. Resumes simply haven’t changed much at all! In lots of ways, the steady state of the resume is good news. You don’t need a fancy, newfangled format, and you don’t need to be particularly tech-savvy. However, differentiating yourself from the zillions of other white-paged resumes with 11 pt Times New Roman font and “moderate” margins continues to be challenging. So how do you do it? Through rich content showcasing high-impact achievements.
Our Alumni Career Services coaches review hundreds of resumes every year. Regardless of the candidates’ industry, function, geography, or career stage, there is one thing we look for in every resume — meaty accomplishments. Often, the tendency is to list what you do. Successful candidates describe the impact of what they do.
Let’s walk through an example. Here’s a bullet we might find on a project management resume:
- Managed cross-functional teams through successful and on-time delivery of projects across various departments.
This bullet explains what the candidate does but says nothing about the candidate’s incremental value. As the reviewer, I would make the following suggestions:
- Pick a specific transaction/project instead of speaking in generalities.
- Describe the problem you were trying to solve — the why.
- Include any measurable results or scale.
The transformed bullet might look like this:
- Led a twelve-person cross-functional team through a $2MM financial reporting implementation project to improve enterprise-wide efficiency. Adoption has led to a 10% reduction in errors and a 20% increase in productivity.
In some of your bullets, you want to start with your metrics to focus your reader’s attention on your results. Notice this technique in the following examples:
- Oversaw digital marketing team responsible for researching trends, building a roadmap, creating content, establishing KPIs and analyzing campaign performance.
- Increased follower count and engagement by 25% in six months by directing the digital marketing team that built a brand-awareness-driven social media strategy and analyzed target audience platform data.
- Developed and executed a strategic plan to enter a new market.
- Exceeded first-year revenue projections of $5MM and achieved a top 5 ranking from Bon Appetit after conducting competitive analysis, leading focus groups and identifying key partnerships to develop a go-to-market strategy for a new prepared meal kit.
Some additional considerations:
- Start by identifying the key skills required by your target audience and choose achievements that showcase those skills.
- Less is more. You do not need a lot of bullets, just 3-4 per job that are most relevant and impressive.
- For more ideas and examples for your bullets, click here for a great reference article.
Want a resume review? Contact ACS to schedule an appointment.