By Jack Mulcahy, ACRW
Jack Mulcahy Resume Services
If I had a dollar for every client who “didn’t want to brag” on his or her resume, I’d become twice as wealthy as Bill Gates within a month. They’re perfectly comfortable talking around the subjects of how they kept costs down, but not on the part they played in keeping costs down. If I try to draw them out on these accomplishments, it becomes a life-and-death struggle. They would rather talk in generalities such as “conducted cost analyses that saved money,” or “managed marketing team of 12 professionals.”
When you ask them why they minimize such terrific accomplishments, they say something like, “Well, I didn’t want to brag.” or “I don’t want them to think I’m too much in love with myself.”
If this sounds remotely like you, you need to realize that a resume is a commercial. And like all commercials, it’s supposed to tout the best features of the “product,” which in this case is YOU. After all, would you buy a soap that simply told you its ingredients? Or a laundry detergent with a commercial that told you it was only as good as its nearest competitor? Of course not! So why are you doing this to yourself on your resume?
If you want a resume that will work for you, you need to tailor the resume to the specific job you’re seeking. (And you have been doing that, haven’t you?) You also need to scrutinize the ad or job posting so you can match what the employer is seeking with what you’ve done. You have to make that employer see that not only are you the best candidate, you’re the ONLY candidate. You want that employer to visualize you already doing the job advertised, and doing a super job at it.
A resume is not the place to be shy and self-effacing. Not if you want to get that job. You must think of yourself as the only candidate, with the resume showing initiatives and achievements to prove that claim. To see what I mean, let’s compare these two statements from the original and modified resumes of a customer:
Original Version: Interfaced with Executive Team on Corporate HR communication strategies and worked with outside counsel to resolve high-risk issues.
Modified Version: Improved communication between various departments and Corporate, which enhanced workflow, lowered costs X%, and improved overall production X%.
Can you see the difference? The first version presents a picture of a person who probably gave the hiring manager a limp handshake, hid his head between his shoulders, and never once looked the manager in the eye. His suit probably doesn’t fit right and he probably hasn’t shined his shoes since he was in ninth grade. We can visualize this because of what he said (or didn’t say) about himself and his work.
In the second version, the job seeker is brimming with self-confidence.
This job seeker described what he did based on the results he achieved. He not only improved communication, he also enhanced workflow, lowered costs and improved production. And what’s more, he quantifies those feats with numbers. This job seeker shows himself to be a true professional: he knows he is good, he knows why he is good, and he will (more than likely) keep getting better.
If you’re ever going to get the attention of an employer, you must expand your thinking. You must recognize that you made a difference wherever you worked. You must understand how to write statements like the modified version; statements that show the impact you had on your previous employers.
“If you build it, they will come.”