Accomplishment-Oriented Résumés Get Results!
by Sharla Taylor
Your résumé is a marketing tool to sell a product--you!
Like any advertisement, a well-written résumé
must entice the reader to buy the product. In this case, you
want the employer to offer you an interview. Your job search
documents (résumé, references, and cover letters)
must show you in the best possible light. Just as there are
truth in advertising laws, there is a universal law of résumé
writing--always tell the truth.
When writing your objective statement, keep the employer's
needs in mind, "Ask not what the company can do for you;
state clearly what you can do for the company." Read
your entire résumé from the employer's perspective.
Answer the employer's questions about your education, experience,
Your résumé is more than words on paper; it
is a snapshot of who you are and what you have to offer an
employer. Don't allow your résumé to be boring;
create interest and draw the reader's attention to your unique
skills and experience. Accomplishment-oriented résumés
capture the person behind the paper and increase your odds
of gaining an interview because your résumé
answers the "So what?" question about your achievements.
Weed out extraneous data. Avoid the "T.M.I.Trap"
Too Much Information can be a turn-off. Hiring
managers are busy people who generally take a no-nonsense
approach to finding a suitable candidate to interview. Don't
waste their time by including irrelevant personal information.
Who cares if you can belch "Jingle Bells" while
juggling bananas, or if you can play "Chopsticks"
with your big toes on a toy piano? Although, I'll admit these
are amazing accomplishments; they are trivial. Unless you
are seeking a job as a comedian, it is not likely that these
skills would be used in your next position. Don't describe
nontransferable skills in detail. Slant your résumé
to appeal to your future employer by including only those
accomplishments that are suited for the position you are seeking.
Here's a question that can act as acid test when reviewing
your accomplishments, "Is this accomplishment meaningful,
measurable, and marketable?" If it is not, revise it
or omit it.
Market yourself wisely. Keep your résumé focused
on one objective statement. If you have skills in diverse
fields such as teaching and direct sales, you may need two
résumés, one targeted for a teaching position
and one for a sales representative's position. However, your
ability to make presentations to a large group is a transferable
skill that should be included in both résumés.
Use the P.A.R. approach to describe your accomplishments.
State the problem; describe the action that
you took to solve the problem and the results of your
action. Whenever possible, anchor these results to specific
dollar amounts or percentages of increase in productivity/profitability.
You have only a short time to impress your reader. Remember,
résumés that are too vague are only seconds
away from the trash can.
In an interview questionnaire I use in my résumé
writing business, a secretary included "given the responsibility
of throwing papers away" as one of her accomplishments.
I wasn't impressed. A chimpanzee with a wad of paper can score
two points in the basketball bin. Please don't get me wrong;
I have the utmost respect for professional secretaries; in
fact, I worked as a secretary for many years. This person's
accomplishment, as it was written, didn't pass the "so-what"
test. However, when she elaborated and described how, as an
administrative assistant, she was given the autonomous responsibility
of purging and archiving project files--that was impressive,
because it conveyed a measure of trust bestowed upon her by
her supervisor. Do employers want to hire someone who can
make decisions within their realm of responsibility? You bet!
Caution: choose your words carefully, or you might as well
start training your toes to play "Chopsticks."
If you are overwhelmed at the task of writing your own résumé,
enlist the help of a professional résumé writer.
A skilled wordsmith can ensure your résumé makes
a better first impression by improving the overall format,
wording, and presentation of your job search documents. Regardless
of whether you decide to do-it-yourself or hire a writer,
don't depend on your software's spell-checker to catch all
the mistakes in your job search documents. Case in point:
I once wrote a résumé for an attractive young
woman who was a recent college graduate; her expertise was
public relations. Much to my embarrassment, there was a terrible
typo that spell-checker overlooked; I'd left the "L"
out of the word "public." Fortunately, we caught
the mistake before the résumé was sent. It is
wise to have several trusted friends review your résumé
before sending it. Not only will they pick up on any typos
you may have overlooked, but they may think of other skills
and accomplishments that you may have failed to mention.
Upon reviewing a web designer's self-written résumé,
a friend pointed out that the web designer had listed all
his technical skills but glossed over his project management
experience, which excluded his greatest strength--the ability
to lead a project from concept to completion. His ability
to communicate with clients, co-workers, and corporate executives
in the course of project development and implementation was
the "trump card" that he had failed to play. The
web designer recruited the help of a professional résumé
writer (yours truly) to reword his accomplishments to include
the project scope and size, the number of people managed on
the project team, and the direct benefits the client derived
from project implementation. The response from the rewrite
was favorable, and the web designer began to gain interviews.
Accomplishment-oriented résumés get results.
For more ideas and information on writing about your professional
accomplishments, visit www.writtenbyapro.com. The related
links page contains many resources for job seekers.
Copyright © 2002 by Sharla Taylor All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on ChristianJobs.com and
can be found in their archives. A series of similar articles
for nurses on professional portfolios, as well as résumé
and cover letter preparation can be found with the following
Your Professional Portfolio: Don't Leave Home Without It
The Case for a Professional Résumé
Accomplishment-Oriented Résumés Get Results
"Mission Possible: Increase Your Interview Opportunities
Effective Cover Letter,"
Sharla Taylor is a Christian freelance writer and owner of
an online résumé writing service www.athomewithwords.com
that assists people with the preparation of their job
search documents. Sharla enjoys helping people through
career transitions and views her career as a ministry.
She encourages those who are spiritually seeking to build
a relationship with God and seek His purpose for their
lives. Contact her via email email@example.com.