Your resume is your golden ticket to an interview, but when hiring managers have stacks of resumes on their desk, how do you avoid the wastebasket?
Pennell Locey of Keystone Associates, a career management and transition services consulting firm in Boston, describes the top two resume mistakes and how to fix them.
First problem: Focusing only on job responsibilities and not including specific accomplishments (extra deductions for using the phrase "responsibilities included").
The fix: Ask yourself what your major accomplishments were or things you did that made the most difference to the business/organization. Some examples: streamlined/ initiated a process, maintained compliance at 100 percent, participated in a fund-raising campaign that delivered "X" percent over plan, increased website traffic by "X" percent.
Also quantify or specify the differences you made. Do you save significant time or money? Did you gain market share or increase measured brand awareness?
For the most impact, start with a brief summary of the key activity, its scope, and your role, then use bullets underneath to list your accomplishments.
Second problem: Underselling your role or accomplishments. Because applicants often worry about appearing to inflate their experiences or take credit for something that others also participated in, they can under-represent their accomplishments. While you do not want to overstate your role, you do want to claim your accomplishments and make it clear what you did. Warning signs to watch for here include:
-- Saying "co-led," "co-created" or similar phrases multiple times just to show others did this, too.
-- Using "assisted," "supported" or "participated in" instead of saying what your role on the team actually involved.
-- The Fix: Ask yourself, "What did I do?" Did you design and deliver a new workshop -- in partnership with line managers? Did you lobby to institute a successful change in the way something was done? Was your role on the team to track milestones and ensure the project was on budget/schedule? Reflect that in what you write in your resume. It will be more memorable and bring you to life for the reviewer.
As always, I suggest: Do what others fail to do!
(Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach based in Birmingham, Ala. For contact information, see marvin-walberg.com.)
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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