When is the last time you felt pride in your career accomplishments?
If you are like most people, you experienced moments in your career where you beamed with pride for having reached a milestone. Like landing your first job out of college. Getting your first big promotion. Being asked to speak in front of a group of your peers at an important event. These are some of the times in your life when you were in the limelight and it felt good.
Yet, most people don’t feel particularly prideful when it comes to what’s found on a resume. This document can seem pretty dull, in fact.
I cannot stress this point enough, however – if you want to get noticed by the best hiring managers out there, you have to present a resume that’s far and above what your peers are presenting. In other words, you need to write a resume you can be proud of.
How can you write a resume you can be proud of? This might seem like a monumental task. Though, here’s a 4-step guide for getting it right:
Step 1 – What you’ve overcome in your personal and professional life
Do you have an interesting way of telling your story?
For most of us, it’s hard to put into words the experiences that have made us the people we are today. But, this is exactly what recruiters like to learn about candidates, as they relate to a person’s character. Consider what makes you different or what you’ve survived in your career.
How has this shaped your career and personality? Your resume should reflect these aspects through the way it’s designed and the achievements you include.
Action Item: Grab a piece of paper and write down 1-2 inspirational or humorous stories or adventures you -can tell about every job you’ve ever held.
Step 2 – Understand your achievements come in different formats.
When creating a resume, most experts will tell you that you need to come up with a list of your career achievements. However, as our own worst critics it’s easy to leave things out because we don’t view them as anything worth mentioning. Here are some things that people forget to include:
- The times you solved a problem (and saved the day or made your boss look good)
- The times you save the company a nice chunk of change or a high profile client
- The measurable improvement of your job (think in terms of percentages and dollars)
- The recommendations and recognition you’ve received from peers and customers
- The projects you’ve accomplished ahead of schedule or under budget
Action Item: Under your story items, for each job, create a list of at least 3 achievements you have made.
Step 3 – What learning efforts have you completed?
A big part of being a professional is learning to be better and more effective. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been employed, how many titles you’ve worn, or how often you’ve been praised. In today’s world, it’s all about the accumulation of knowledge.
This requires being a lifelong learner, actively pursuing new and better ways of thinking and doing things. Anything less means you will eventually become obsolete, much like the floppy disk did back in the 1980s.
Action Item: Jot down the degrees, certifications, conferences, classes, trainings, and other learning opportunities you’ve participated in within the last 5 years. What learning are you engaged in now, and what are you planning on learning in the near future?
Step 4 – Demonstrate how you are different or better
A resume is essentially a marketing document that’s developed over time.
You must think of it this way in order for it to have the right impact on your career.
One of the key principles of marketing, outside of creating a brand for yourself, is establishing a unique selling proposition (USP). Your unique selling proposition includes the traits that make you different or better than others at what you do.
An example may be your additional training in a specialty area of your industry. Or it may be a high-level client project that you worked on.
What’s your USP?
Knowing this can set you apart from other candidates and give you confidence during interviews. Remember, you must be able to sell your value to a potential employer.
Action Item: Think of 5-7 traits, experiences, projects, or unique ways of doing things that no one else in your industry can claim. How can you present this on a resume or cover letter?
Now that you have the main elements of a strong resume, you can take this list a qualified executive resume writer and career coach to craft an outstanding resume package. The four steps above ensure that nothing is left out of what can be the most powerful career document you can have today. You’ll also have the opportunity to hone this further as you put the resume together. Follow a standard resume format to get started.
Your resume is a living, working document that can demonstrate to others what you are most proud of.
This is something you have earned, so don’t be afraid. Think long and hard about the things you have accomplished and learned life. Let your career evolve on paper so that hiring managers have a good sense of what you bring.
You are your own best marketing team.
You are your own best cheering squad.
No one knows you the way you do. Make your resume shine.