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In the past 15 years as an executive, I’ve reviewed over 1,000 resumes. CVs fascinate me, but I notice the same missed opportunities every time.
If you’re about to use your resume – for whatever purpose – or just want to have a resume that you’ll be proud of, it’s important that you consider the following five things.
Related: 6 Ways to Make Sure Your Resume Is Read
1. It should read like a list of achievements, not job descriptions
I find it shocking how many people’s resumes read as job descriptions. They are simply lists of technical or functional components of jobs people have had before. They talk about all the different tasks that people in previous roles have completed.
Better resumes include lists of people’s many accomplishments and descriptions of their proudest moments. These lists must be specific. They should tell readers about the change or shift they made in bottom line, a process improvement or innovation that saved a company X dollars, the number of people they helped get promoted, or the percentage they met their goals. exceeded.
What resume readers want to know is not only how likely it is that you will be successful in the next role or engagement, but also how likely it is that you will become a superstar. If your resume tells us about all the awards you’ve won – and what for – and how you revolutionized your division or department, we’re talking about it now.
2. Your resume is your story – tell it well
Strong resumes tell the reader everything about the essence of the candidate; not just what they’ve done, but rather who they are. When we know who a person is at heart, we know what we can count on him for. This is a big problem. Resume readers need to get a clear picture of the person they are reading about. Concepts, ideas, and patterns of behavior should emerge throughout the resume.
For example, reading my resume should bring up several main themes: I’m obsessed with leadership; I have a passion for developing talent; I care about others; I consistently deliver results; I can be counted on as a top performer; and I’m seriously proud of transforming and changing things for the better. This isn’t what I do – it’s who I am. I behave like this in all environments, and if an environment doesn’t value these things, I probably won’t fit in well. You know exactly what you’re buying when you hire me.
Does your resume do this? Can your reader walk away with five descriptive sentences that predict exactly how you are likely to behave consistently? If not, I recommend going away with a blank sheet of paper and making a list of what radiates and fizzes you, then go back and see if those concepts literally jump off the resume.
Related: 13 Essential Words to Include on Your Resume
3. It must be very specific
When talking about your achievements or past achievements, being specific is extremely important. When it comes to delivering results, it’s incredibly helpful to list exactly what kind of results. When talking about implementing positive changes at work, it’s helpful to talk about the specific impact or benefit of those changes. When you’re talking about leading a committee or project, it’s imperative to describe what that committee did or how that project helped the organization.
The more you can use specific numbers and examples of exactly what your contributions meant, the better. Too often I read things like ‘goals exceeded’ and wonder ‘by how much?’ There is a difference between 101% of the target and 201% of the target. Too often I read ‘a built relationship with customers’ and wonder ‘how?’ or “what did that look like?” or “So, what did that lead to?” CVs should not only state the ‘what’, but also the ‘so what’. Readers should always know not only what happened, but why it mattered.
Related: 10 Tips for Writing an Impressive Resume
4. Talk about your personal life
Too often resumes are one-dimensional. They only mention professional details, and that’s it. It amazes me how many times I’ve interviewed someone who sings in their church choir on Sundays, is heavily involved in volunteering for community organizations, sits on one or two board members, runs marathons, and plays in a soccer league, all outside of work — and none of it is on their resume.
If your resume is the story of you, why not tell people everything about you? Sharing how busy, proactive, engaged and engaged you are outside of work is a great testament to your ability to juggle a lot of balls and handle a lot of moving boards – and employers love to see this. It tells your reader that you have an active mind, you like to step up and you want to make a difference, but too many people find this information irrelevant. Employers these days love to hire whole and complete people, so if you do this kind of thing, put it on your resume.
A good practice for making sure your resume captures all of these things is to update it regularly. If you update your resume twice a year, you’ll know exactly what you’re accomplishing, and all of your proudest achievements and achievements will be fresh in your mind. Too many people tell me that they haven’t updated their resume in years because it wasn’t really necessary, which is why they simply can’t remember what they were doing back then. If you update your resume regularly, whether you need to or not, this won’t happen to you.