Though you may share a job title with many other people, your accomplishments and how you carry out your responsibilities are what distinguishes you from other qualified candidates. Therefore, you should focus your résumé on not only what you did but also how well you did it. Remember, your résumé is your way to market your strengths on paper, so show a significant difference from the others by including some "talking points."
To assist you in determining these résumé "talking points," below are some points to address:
Measurable Accomplishments. Write down ways that you saved the company money. Include information such as the circumstances and the percentage saved. Note the special projects you participated in and the outcomes—describe your role in making the projects successful. Recall times when you resolved a major problem with little investment. Take note of the times you exceeded accepted standards for quality or quantity. Write down a time when you were approached by management to train team members on departmental policies and procedures. Outline changes you spearheaded and each that positively impacted the organization.
Notable Mentions. Describe the greatest effort you put into your work. List the awards you won (i.e., President's Club) and the commendations you received (i.e., letter from management for a job well done). What are the top three accomplishments you are most proud of for each position? Include some positive quotations from your annual performance reviews. Identify the areas in which you ranked highest on your annual performance reviews.
Productivity Accomplishments. Note any efficiency improvements that you implemented or initiated. Give examples of when you took risks to achieve particular goals. What were the outcomes? Were there times when you identified the need for a program, plan, or service?
Extras. Compare your achievements to those of your peers. What are the toughest challenges you faced in the work environment? Did you serve on special committees? Were you ever selected to participate in a special training program?
The Objective or Profile Statement
Each reader who picks up your résumé will make a quick decision as to whether to read it carefully or give it an eight-second scan. Therefore, the top one-third of your résumé should be a powerful statement that sums who you are, that encapsulates your professional experience, and homes in on your core competencies. This is the Objective, or Profile, Statement.
So, instead of writing something weak like, "Seeking a challenging position where there is room for growth," compose a strong statement that incorporates your core competencies for the line of work you are in. Figures 3-1, 3-2, and 3-3 are examples of powerful Objective Statements.
As you can see from the examples, there are several ways to compose a solid opening statement. Figure 3-1 introduces the relevant proficiencies in paragraph form. Figure 3-2 offers the core competencies in a bulleted
list after the introduction. Figure 3-3 integrates the competencies into a statement that also mentions the proficiencies and concludes with mention of hard skills.
The Professional Experience Section
Picture a desk piled high with hundreds of résumés. These résumés were submitted by people who want the same job as you are applying for and they are just as qualified as you are. The person working his way through this stack of résumés will need some pretty compelling information to put your résumé on the "call for appointment" pile. You can provide this compelling information in your Professional Experience section when it focuses on the core competencies being sought. Figures 3-4, 3-5, and 3-6 have examples of solid and effective Professional Experience résumé sections.
As with the Objective Statement, there are several ways you can present the picture of your prior experience. Figure 3-4 uses a bulleted list, which, after the statement of company and title, has focused, bulleted statements that stress core competencies and accomplishments. Figure 3-5 highlights the competencies by pairing them with responsibilities, using a two-column format. Figure 3-6 applies a case study approach, with two examples highlighting the challenges and results.
Selected Résumé Formats
There are three standard résumé formats: chronological, functional, and hybrid. Figures 3-7, 3-8, and 3-9 offer examples of each format. To determine the appropriate format for you, consider the assets of each:
Chronological Résumé. Professional experience and education are summarized in reverse chronological order. This format is best for those with a stable, solid career progression.
Functional Résumé. Strengths are categorized in a core competencies section and the professional experience appears after that, in chronological order. Career changers, job hoppers, and those returning to the workforce after an extended leave will find the functional format serves them well.
Hybrid Résumé. A combination of the chronological and functional formats, this type showcases the core competencies under a heading such as "Selected Achievements" and the Professional Experience section has items listed chronologically.
The importance of your résumé to the interview process cannot be overstated. A strong, compelling résumé, with easily identifiable core competencies and accomplishments highlighted, will help you get interviews, which is your number-one goal. It can also help you steer the interviewer's competency-based questions in a direction where you are most comfortable discussing those work scenarios and experiences.