Position yourself as a differentiated candidate
One of the main reasons people hire a professional executive resume writer is that it’s crucial to position yourself as better than other candidates, in order to capture the attention of recruiters and managers.
So, given this challenge, how exactly do you do that? This blog post will focus on an effective technique you can use to create a stronger resume. To keep things simple, for the rest of this post, I’m going to refer only to “resumes”, although rather obviously, you can use this same advice to power up the job descriptions within your LinkedIn profile as well.
My examples feature a fictitious software engineer, but hopefully everyone will see that the ideas will work just as well for someone that’s in marketing or sales, or whatever. Doesn’t have to be technology, of course. And they’ll work for candidates at all levels of seniority, from the C-suite on down to someone who’s still in high school or college.
Write accomplishments as bullet points
First, a brief review. At the heart of a good resume are highlights detailing your accomplishments. We often call these things “bullet points.” I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. They’re the short entries under each job in your work history that attempt to summarize what it is that you’ve been doing in your job.
A professional executive resume writer will tell you that a compelling resume needs to make it very clear to the reader exactly what it is that you’ve done in the past to make things better for your previous employers, school, or organization. And bullet points are a very effective way to express that, if they’re done well.
How a professional executive resume writer creates bullets
Let me show you how to take a so-so bullet point, and make it into something more powerful and attention-getting.
Start out with a fictitious bullet point that could appear on a typical software engineer resume (actually this was taken from a real resume, so as the great Dave Barry would say, I’m Not Making This Up):
Responsible for development, code reviews, and certifying bi-weekly releases of several core projects.
Think in terms of accomplishments, not responsibilities
Not only is there no detail, but the phrase “responsible for” is a terrible way to start. (Maybe you were responsible for something, but did you actually do it?)
This reads more like a job description for a generic software engineer, than any particular person’s duties. And it doesn’t even begin to address accomplishing any business objectives. Let’s work on making this better and more effective.
The first step is to add a few details about the work, including adding at least one or two keywords that are likely to be important to the kinds of work we’re doing and seeking. Again, keep in mind that this is a made-up example of how a software engineer might approach a resume, but this technique works for anyone making a resume, no matter what field they’re in, and no matter what level of seniority they’re at. Extend this example to your own situation.
Here’s how we might rework our bullet, adding details and removing the “responsible for” phrase. A resume bullet doesn’t have to be just one sentence, although it’s a good idea to limit the bullet to no more than a few lines overall:
Developed GPS tracking and barcode printing modules in WPF using C# and XAML in an MVVM framework. Participated in weekly code reviews and certified bi-weekly releases.
Bullets written like the new one above, while perfectly acceptable and representative of the way the vast majority of resumes are written, will not really do much to help you stand out as a candidate uniquely qualified to solve the problems and take advantage of the opportunities that a future employer will face.
Because there’s no context. Why did your employer have you working on developing the tracking and printing modules? As a fun coding challenge, or to keep you too busy to raid the stash of free snacks in the kitchen? Of course not! You were there to help your employer in some way.
Making bullets really pop with accomplishments with business value
So, if you want your resume to get more attention from future employers, you need to make it clear how the work you did helped your previous employer. Once again, let’s add some more info to our bullet:
Developed GPS tracking and barcode printing modules in WPF using C# and XAML in an MVVM framework. Modules were used in mobile field data collection application which helped sales reps focus on highly productive accounts. Participated in weekly code reviews and certified bi-weekly releases.
Now we are getting somewhere! Not only have we put in some keyword-rich detail about what our engineer built, but we’ve stated what the point was of building it in the first place.
Front-load your accomplishments
This bullet is a huge improvement over what we started with. But we can do a couple more things to polish this into something special. We need to edit it to remove excess verbiage, and we want to “front load” the description, which means that we are going to emphasize the business result right up front, and then say how we did it. For easy comparison of the changes, I’m not going to do too much wordsmithing, editing, or changing the descriptive words, although I would do that if I was writing a resume professionally. Here, I’m mostly going to stick to reordering the phrases. Like so:
Helped sales reps focus on highly-productive accounts by developing mobile field data collection GPS tracking and barcode printing modules using WPF, C# and XAML in an MVVM framework. Participated in weekly code reviews and certified bi-weekly releases.
And there you have it: a bullet point which emphasizes the business contribution you made by your work.
A professional executive resume writer can help you
Hiring a professional executive resume writer is a proven way to create an accompishment-oriented resume. Go through your entire work history, and for each thing you were involved with, ask yourself: what was the purpose? Did it save the company or the customers money, speed up a process, or automate something? You get the idea. Doing your resume like this will put you way ahead of most of the resumes that recruiters and hiring managers read, and will dramatically improve your chances of getting a positive response.
Phil Hurd is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW), Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE). He specializes in creating resumes, LinkedIn profiles, biographies, and cover letters for executives and individual contributors in all functions in technology-oriented industries.
If you need knowledgeable and experienced help developing your own personal marketing documents, Catalyst Resumes can help you. Book a free consultation call to discuss your project with Phil by clicking this link: https://catalystresumes.as.me/20minuteconsult