Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It’s About the Accomplishments, Stupid! Tell Them Well!

Resumes today are, or should be, more about what you have achieved not about what you do. The job market is so tight in the current economy that it is easy to hear the squeaks and squeals of people reading the thousands of resumes that are targeted at every available job. The problem is that according to a recent New York Times piece “Job seekers now outnumber jobs by six to one.”

So how is it possible to distinguish your resume from everyone else seeking to become part of the selected pile by the hiring manager? Craft a resume that clearly and boldly outlines what you have accomplished for your employers or clients and how you have helped them move the needle.

Here is a recommendation:

1. While I may stir some debate here, develop the resume in reverse chronological order to make it easy for the hiring manager to get a sense of flow of your career. The goal is to make it easy to read for the hiring manager, not you, not your fans and not your family.

2. It’s the accomplishments, stupid. To borrow and twist a quote from former president Bill Clinton. The resume is about accomplishments, not a job description.

3. So get yourself a comfortable working space, your favorite beverage, a pad of paper or an eye pad if you have one and sit down and think long and hard about all of your jobs.

4. Next, throw caution to the wind and write down four to five accomplishments for each position, giving careful thought to what you achieved for your employer, how you did it and what were the outcomes.

5. When you are finished, go back and edit each accomplishment and prioritize them all based on importance.

6. Save all of the accomplishments in a file marked “accomplishments bank.”

7. Based on the prioritization, pick the top three or four for each job and these become your primary proof points for the resume.

8. Also, feel free to mix and match the accomplishments, targeting the type of position to which you are applying, creating a customized resume for each job based on the position specs.

9. And as long as we are talking about targeting, make sure that your both your resume and cover letter are targeted to the position specs and to the company. Organizations either screen resumes by hand or automatically with software that analyzes keywords. If your letter and resume do not contain the right keywords, it is likely to end up in the "selected-out" pile. So target, target, target.

10. Lastly, don't forget the white space. Resumes that are copy heavy can easily get “selected out.” Make sure your resume is clean and easy to read so that it gets “selected in.”

At the end of the day or the “stack of resumes,” make sure your resume is the one that is included. Tell your story well and in a fashion that highlights your accomplishments not your positions.

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