What you say about yourself and what employers hear can be different. And that is the problem with many resumes.
People often get all wrapped up in details that they feel most proud about. These could be about projects that were popular with past employers or accomplishments that ended up a turning point in their careers.
All of these details are great, but what matters more in writing a resume is to present these achievements and accomplishments in a larger picture context that can be easily understood by future employers — and does reflect how transferable your skills are.
And when writing a resume from this perspective, you will be able to make it concise so that it fits in one page — something busy hiring managers totally appreciate. So if you are ready to review and revise the resume before hitting the job market, pay close attention to the following aspects:
The big picture
Step back and look at the significance of your projects and milestones. Remember, you probably will get to explain these if invited for an in-person interview … but on paper you need to be clear and straightforward. In addition, be specific.
For example, if talking about a project, say that you led a team that worked on, say, a Dh40-million dollar project and produced specific results. In short, use the specifics to illustrate the importance, size and scale of your work.
Presenting the big picture also requires an understanding that future employers don’t really get or care about company jargon. So unless you worked on a well-known project — Dubai’s metro, for example — don’t pack your resume with project names, details, partners, etc.
In the short bullet points that describe what you did in a past or current position, you need to balance honesty and proper presentation. Often, I see managers shy away from using powerful verbs — like led, introduced, developed, etc. Instead they opt for lesser roles — as least in their resume presentation — and use verbs like assisted, helped, participated, etc.
Although you should not claim that you have led a team unless you actually did, give yourself full credit if you indeed took a leadership position on a project or a team. Beyond your title, employers will be reading between the lines to get an idea of how far your reach and impact was in past jobs.
If you opt to use less-powerful verbs, you may be perceived in a lower-capacity to what you actually held.
Many people who are at loss as to what to include on their resumes pick up a few lines from their job descriptions. Employers see right through this approach.
A better way to present your work duty is to show your impact in improving results. Quantify your sales leads, for example. Highlight what you introduced to improve the work process, speed up customer service or cut back on costs.
Take the work duties that are static and expected under your job title and turn them into accomplishments. This will help you stand out from the crowd. In addition, you will be able to plug an accomplishment that you are most proud of neatly into this context.
Bring up your edge
Why do you think you deserve the job? Write a summary — or a profile — in the resume that makes you an exceptional fit for the job opening. This is not a template job.
You will actually need to think about the job and its requirements and sum up your abilities in few, concise sentences. The space is where you provide a good argument to the hiring manager on why you should be selected, at least for the next step.
This profile is different from the covering letter. It connects the dots in your experience and shows the hiring manager how your career and experience can be an easy transplant into the new workplace. Don’t get into details of your experience — a simple elevator-speech style will suffice.
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
Revise your resume
Focus on big-picture presentation.
Use details to illustrate the significance.
Employ proper verbs that match your work.