A key tool in the process of securing another opportunity is via a resume. As an executive recruiter, we typically receive hundreds of resumes per week. There are over three million resumes on the larger internet sites. Thus, it is important to breakthrough the clutter to communicate your capabilities to the reader/potential hiring authority.
The first element of the strong resume is to state your objective. This will help the reader know your employment desires. Defining your desires is also energizing and challenging.
The objective section will set the stage for the balance of your resume. The balance of the resume should reinforce through your experiences and education your ability to meet/exceed the requirements of the type of role(s) outlined in the objective.
Your work experience is the next most important component. For each role you should provide two components, responsibilities and accomplishments. Responsibilities are essentially items that are similar to a job description. They are the requirements for someone who has had that position. By contrast, accomplishments are the quantitative things you’ve done while in the position. The weighting should skew most heavily to accomplishments with an 80/20 weight.
Second, compose a concise two to three line statement of your major responsibilities. For each position, focus on the larger aspects of the role in an appealing manner to the reader. Stay with the highlights versus details. Remember, the hiring authorities are probably familiar with the responsibilities of your role. For example, a Director of Sales knows the content of a territory sales reps role. Similarly, a Plant Manager knows the core responsibilities of a line foreman or maintenance engineer.
Third, and arguably the most important component of your resume, the accomplishments you’ve had while in each role. Accomplishments are quantifiable benefits you delivered or led, such as, generated X revenues, reduced Y costs, efficiencies were improved Z percent, secured Y more clients, improved our satisfaction ratings Z percent, secured X more hits on our web site, etc. These points of difference separate you from anyone else that would have had that role or a similar role.
Importantly, avoid qualitative language to define your accomplishments. Most roles have a quantifiable element to them. This is the time and place to use them, regardless of how challenging you might find this step.
Fourth, there is recency bias in reviewing resumes. The positions you’ve held in the past five years are significantly more important than roles you had over 10 years ago. Therefore, weight your resume accordingly. For example, your list of accomplishments should be more robust for recent roles. However, I suggest fewer substantial accomplishments will beat a long list of modest “wins”.
For positions that you held over 10 years ago, I suggest using the title and one and at most two key accomplishments that occurred during your tenure in that role. Remember, it is unnecessary to define the responsibilities of entry level or junior positions.Net, a killer resume has four components:
- It begins with a clear objective of the type(s) of opportunities you desire.
- Each position has two elements, weighted 80/20 to accomplishments, beginning with a brief outline of major responsibilities.
- Provide quantifiable accomplishments for each role.
- Skew the emphasis on the document to the most recent five years.
Through this approach, hiring authorities will know your desires and can review prior successes demonstrate which suggest your potential to deliver in the future. Importantly, this approach will focus your efforts to seek your next opportunity, within or outside of your current organization.
Dwain Celistan is a retained executive recruiter who focuses on leadership talent. He
has authored “5 Simple Steps to Achieving Your Dreams”. He can be reached via