Forget the task-oriented résumé
I’ve talked a lot about why it’s so important to create an accomplishment-based résumé rather than just listing a bunch of duties and responsibilities which say nothing about how your efforts benefited key stakeholders in a meaningful way.
The experience section must deliver your value-proposition
The showing-your-value approach isn’t limited to just one small section of your résumé – it must be included in all appropriate areas throughout the document such as the professional profile, accomplishments section, and more importantly – your work experience section.
Your work history is where you show evidence of your value
After you’ve grabbed the reader’s attention with a captivating headline and profile summary, your experience section is where you can show where, when, and how you achieved specific positive outcomes.
For instance, what were the solutions you came up with? How did you help make things become more accurate, efficient, streamlined, profitable, innovative, higher quality, etc.?
Regardless of your job function and industry, you need to determine what your value is and express it clearly, truthfully, and concisely in your work experience section.
Make every bullet point count!
Ideally, every bullet point you have should focus on your key contributions – not just tasks.
Just to be clear, duties and responsibilities are what you are tasked with and do not demonstrate how well you did them.
Accomplishments are the kinds of positive outcomes you achieved after performing your duties and responsibilities. This is your value.
Don’t waste space with bullet points that don’t clearly show what your contributions have been over your career.
Don’t make this common mistake
The problem is many résumés that I review either fail to include an accomplishment-based work experience section or if they do, they’re not compelling enough.
Are you making these top 5 errors in your résumé’s experience section?
#1: It has poor readability
The use of too many words and paragraphs make the document copy-dense and difficult for the human reader to scan it quickly.
Edit down the sentences, using only the most necessary and shortest words possible.
Cut out any fluff like too many adverbs and adjectives. Stick to nouns and strong “power” verbs.
Limit each sentence to one or two lines max.
Add more white space in between bullet points so that each one stands out for easy skimming.
#2: It’s boring (zzzzzzzzz……..)
It’s written like a generic job description that reads more like a career “obituary” than a compelling career story.
Showcase what’s unique about you and your contributions by giving some specifics that provide context and scope (see Lack of context and scope below).
Quantify your contributions by including metrics where ever possible such as dollars, percentages, amounts, volume, and timelines.
Begin each bullet point with a strong action verb that clearly conveys how you personally contributed to that activity and outcome.
Highlight solutions that you delivered (or helped to deliver) because of your efforts.
Where did you help reduce expenses and waste, increase revenue and efficiencies, develop creative solutions or other kinds of things that benefited your employers in some way? This is your value.
#3: It’s not relevant and/or clear
Your résumé is confusing to the reader. They don’t “get” what you do or how it relates to what they’re looking for in a candidate because you haven’t effectively connected the dots for them.
Make sure that each position and bullet points you include are relevant to the position you are applying for.
Ensure that each bullet point addresses the key requirements of the job.
Side note: If you are making a total career change into a different job function and/or industry for which you have no previous experience, you will have to focus on your transferable skills/experience and other credentials.
#4: It lacks context and scope
There’s not quite enough background information to give the bullet points any significant meaning or point of reference.
Add a short blurb (no more than one line) about the company that would be of interest to your target field and help to clarify things.
Then add another 1 to 3 lines that summarize important things like your greatest challenge, key accountabilities, your mandate, who you reported to, who you collaborated with, etc. What you include will vary depending on your target field and strategy.
Side note: What you are trying to do here is set the stage for the reader and make the bullet points meaningful.
#5: It shows every position you’ve ever held
Your résumé shows every job you’ve had since you graduated college decades ago.
Not only does this create a résumé that’s longer than it needs to be, it’s information overload and can prevent you from being considered due to ageism. Or the reader just gives up (due to information overwhelm) and moves on to the next résumé .
The general rule of thumb is to show no more than the last 10 to 15 years of employment provided it is totally relevant to the position you are applying for. Of course, this will vary depending on your level of seniority and the kind of role you are targeting.
If you make all of the recommended improvements, you will increase the changes of your résumé attracting more attention and getting you the interviews.
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Hi! I’m Diana.
I draw from over 15 years recruitment, career/job search coaching, and sales/marketing experience to help all kinds of jobseekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired for their dream job.
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