In the thousands of resumes I’ve seen, great candidates run the risk of being passed over because their resume focused on the wrong story: it outlines how they did their job, but it fails to ever explain what happened as a result. The most talented employees often miss the point of a resume, which is: how did you move the needle because you showed up every day?
As a hiring manager, if you tell me that story, I’m interested. But If you drone on about analyzing research, compiling monthly reports, servicing equipment, interfacing with customers, ordering supplies and maintaining accounts, I fell asleep halfway through that list of duties. I’ve moved on to other applicants, hoping to find someone who talks about their “what happened” story: Metrics, Outcomes, Volume and Velocity. It’s obvious that folks are proud of the processes they manage and the thoroughness with which they approach their work, but don’t be so caught up in process and the “how” that you fail to share the impact you had.
A list of duties isn’t a resume – it’s a job description. Re-think the story your resume is telling: what happened because you did all this stuff?
It sounds obvious, but a lot of folks miss on this one: be big picture. When you list your responsibilities and outcomes, put the most impressive stuff, first. Often I see a job seeker list their most minor and tasky job responsibility as bullet number one, and it marginalizes them as a “can do” candidate.
If you lead off with “update bulletin boards, maintain supply cabinet, answer phones” as your first item, then I’m barely paying attention by the time I get to bullet #7 and you slip in there as an afterthought, “Achieved 20% in savings by streamlining ordering process and re-negotiating volume discount with one vendor.” Whoa – that’s big, and it should have been at the top of your list. If you don’t know what’s the most impactful part of your job history, you’ve told me you don’t get the big picture, and that you won’t prioritize the right things, working for me.
Here are helpful tips on how to use Metrics, Outcomes, Volume and Velocity to tell your “what happened” story.
Metrics: Every chance you get, tell a prospective employer how much you sold, how many accounts you manage, how many locations you support, how many calls you field an average week, how many job tickets you process a day, how many staff you manage, how much budget you oversee – and so on. Find the numbers or percentage on how much you increased revenue, ticket sales, customer satisfaction, clients, quality, safety or test scores. Make it clear how you reduced set up time, event costs, suppliers, and scrap or waste. Metrics and deliverables tell a prospective employer you’re proud of how you moved the needle, and that you’re ready to create those same results in a new job.
Outcomes: What happened because you analyzed data, exhibited excellent customer service or efficiently installed new software? You’ve explained the how you do your job or your responsibilities, but what happens as a result? Did your department retain 98% of its clients? Did your research result in creating a new volume pricing offer that was wildly popular with customers? Did your software install reduce overall contract IT labor costs by 17%? Did you bring in three new corporate sponsors as a result of creating new fundraising campaign materials, or did you increase unique visitors to your website by 33% after your social media PR blitz?
Volume and Velocity: So many job seekers fail to tell the story about how much work they crank out. If you say “handle incoming warranty claims,” I as the hiring manager wonders – is that 3 a week? If you tell me you manage a portfolio that averages nearly 50 warranty claims a month, now you’ve explained how much volume you can handle, and how fast you work. Whether it’s writing articles, servicing accounts, training employees, reviewing claims, or testing environmental samples, give me a clear snapshot of how much you do, and how fast you do it.
By more effectively telling your “what happened” story, you will easily set yourself apart from other applicants who just list their tasks and duties.
Kelly Blazek shares job search and work success tips from the corporate front lines in her blog, http://kellyblazek.wordpress.com. She is available for presentations to groups on job searching, and also one-on-one resume review consultations for job seekers.