By Brenda Bernstein
The Essay Expert
A common misunderstanding about resumes is that they are a description of what you did in your past jobs. In actuality, resumes are most effective when they are written from the perspective of the FUTURE. In other words, think about what a potential employer would want to know about how you WILL perform. What experience do you have that will make you a contribution to their firm or organization?
If you are writing from the perspective of the FUTURE, here’s what will happen:
- You will write detailed bullets that demonstrate your ability to achieve measurable results. To do this, include as many numbers as possible. For instance, don’t just say you tutored students; say how many and by how much their grades improved. Don’t say you were successful; tell us exactly what results you achieved. Don’t just say “increased;” tell us by what percentage. Your readers will imply that you can produce similar results for them.
- You will think about the purpose and priority of each item on your resume. If you are a recent graduate, does it matter that you worked as a bartender during college? Maybe, if you worked 20 hours/week and still maintained a 3.8 GPA, or if you were the highest-tipped bartender at the establishment. Additionally, bartending successfully shows your ability to multitask and interact with a wide variety of people. But it does not need to take up three lines on your resume, just because it’s what you did; you can make it a short bullet under your “Education” section to show you were doing it while in school full time.
- You will delete anything that is irrelevant or of minimal importance to your future. If you are a recent graduate, these things include stuff you did in high school. If you have 10 years of work experience, these things include your college activities. If you have 25 years of work experience, these things most likely include any positions you held over 10 years ago.
A word about including important positions that are more than 10 years old: If you absolutely must include an older job, let’s say from 15 years ago, create a separate section for it entitled “Other Relevant Experience.” You do NOT have to include every job you had between 10 and 15 years ago in order to include the older job.
In conclusion, always keep in mind what your FUTURE employer will want to know about you — it’s not about what you did, it’s about what you can contribute. Impress them with what you can bring to their organization and you are very likely to make it to the next step… the interview!