Writing a résumé can be a daunting
task. It has a style unlike virtually
any other document you are likely to write. Consequently, many people rely on either preconceived ideas or stock templates
when setting down their credentials for a new position, dooming themselves to a mediocre product from the get-go.
We often carry around outdated concepts when we don’t keep up to date with current trends. Today’s quality résumés have dispensed with objective statements, and must contain far more information about your accomplishments than your responsibilities. To stand out from the competition you must convey your personal brand, highlight your skills and explain the results of your work. And at the same time, your résumé should be formatted to be applicant tracking system (ATS) friendly.
Rather than just trying to initially compose a document in résumé format, it is often very helpful to first create a background document you might think of as a well of information from which to draw. To get organized, begin by creating topic headings for each of the sections of the résumé: Professional Experience, Skills, Education, Certifications & Training, Volunteer / Community Activities.
Compose bullet points where you highlight each of your major accomplishments. And fill them in with a longhand version of what you did, how you did it and what happened because of your activity.
Don’t worry about conforming to the space limitation of a page or two in this private document. Just pour out your story on to several pages, and then you will be able to cull the highlights for your finished product. Moreover, having thought about and articulated your experiences you will also have taken an important step forward in preparing stories to tell when you get to interviewing for coveted roles.
In each section or bullet point of your résumé well, answer these questions as best you can:
1. How did you get this job? What does the company do? Who buys its products or services?
2. What are your major responsibilities? What have been the biggest challenges you faced in accomplishing them? What did you do, and how did it turn out? What resulted from your actions?
3. What are you most proud to have accomplished in this role?
4. How have you saved your employer time or increased productivity?
5. What have you done, to increase sales or revenue for your employer? How did you go about doing it? What tools, skills, knowledge or software did you utilize?
6. What have you done, and how did you do it, to decrease costs or expenses for your employer? Again, what tools, skills, knowledge or software did you utilize?
7. How have your accomplishments in this role stacked
up against others in your department, company or industry?
8. Why is your employer better off because you were hired?
9. What did you start or set up that became a model for others to copy in other locations or companies?
10. How did you make life easier for your boss, your peers or others with whom you worked?
11. How are you viewed by your boss, peers and those you supervise?
12. What is your reputation among your vendors, customers or clients? Why do they have this opinion of you?
Your résumé well will likely turn out to be several pages long. Then, you can draw from it the main substance
and ideas that emerge
from your self-reflection.
Once you've completed this preliminary document and are ready to write the résumé itself, determine for yourself the overall impression of what you want to create in the mind of your reader. With this in mind, go back to highlight all the things that you’ve written that will contribute to someone coming to the conclusion you seek. Now you are well underway to figuring out what to include in the bullet points you will be fashioning
Bear in mind, employers are ultimately far less concerned about reading a listing of your current and former job descriptions than coming to understand how you have fulfilled your responsibilities in a way that sets you apart from everyone else. That is why each bullet point should be in what professional résumé writers call a STAR format that conveys succinctly your Situation, Task, Action and Results.
When you go about the task of résumé creation this way, you will create a document that will interest its readers to invest far more than the six to 10 seconds they give to your competition.