You could create your resume so that it’s filled with impressive-sounding words. For example: “Highly skilled, resourceful manager with exceptional leadership skills and proven ability to solve complex problems.”
What’s wrong with that?
Meaningless, often generalized, wording tends to put readers to sleep! Why does the above statement fall flat? It doesn’t actually say much when you boil it down to essentials. What’s more, it doesn’t do anything to distinguish you from your competition—and we all face that, no matter how good we are.
What would turn that ho-hum statement into one that catches and holds employer attention? Here’s an example (one of my favorites):
“Turned around 3 underperforming organizations in 7 years by building and motivating teams that consistently overachieved goals.”
The first statement uses 15 words, including 7 adjectives and adverbs. It’s also pretty generic. The second example uses 17 words, only 2 of which are adjectives or adverbs, and it’s not in the least generic. Which one do you think would interest an employer?
How do you put your “money” where your “mouth” is?
This old saying suggests that you “show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something.” (Cambridge Dictionary)
In terms of your professional resume, this means you don’t lean heavily on a flood of general words that try to tell employers how great you are. Instead, you pick situations that show what you can do—have done, in fact—and choose the best words to communicate that message.
“I don’t like to brag about my work.”
It’s not bragging if (1) it’s true and (2) you express it appropriately.
People like Muhammed Ali, for instance, don’t just say, “I am the greatest.” They know it, and they prove it by their performance.
You might not describe yourself in quite such glowing terms, but it’s perfectly all right to say something like this:
“Turned around project that had fallen 2 months behind schedule. Overcame internal resistance and gained cross-functional cooperation that resulted in completion on time and in budget.”
That kind of accomplishment story tells employers something about you that they need and want to know in order to consider you as a viable candidate for their position. It also does that in a way that sets you apart from your competitors—and without using meaningless hype or generic wording.
Identify Your Value Message
You must start, of course, by identifying your potential value to the employers you’re targeting and then figure out the most appropriate way to communicate that to them.
Once you’ve determined what you can do for an employer that you’re reasonably sure they’ll find valuable, examine your experience to see what specific examples you can legitimately provide that will drive your value-point home.
Make that the heart of your professional resume. In a sense, when you do that, you’re letting your actions speak louder than words—and you’ve probably tilted the odds strongly in your favor for a successful job search.
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