My guess is you’re making the same mistake most people do: you’re making your resume about you instead of about the reader!
Shock is the reaction I usually get when I say, “Your resume is not about you.” Here’s what I mean:
A few weeks ago, I was working with two different people to help them polish up their resumes. One was a client seeking a pay raise and promotion.
The other was one looking for a new job following a downsize.
Resumes for both clients had the same common mistake: they were void of any results or accomplishments from their past jobs or positions.
This is a HUGE mistake because that’s the one thing people reviewing resumes are looking for the most!
When I first suggested to each client we add in some results of their past work so their resume doesn’t read like a generic job ad, one said, “I was just there to do a good job, I wasn’t seeking any kind of glory.”
While this is a wonderfully humble approach to good work, job seekers have to understand that including accomplishments on their resume is not about them.
The moment you say, “I don’t want/like to brag,” is the moment you’ve made it all about you.
Resume truth: It’s about them!
Including results of your past work on your resume and talking about those results in an interview or a performance review IS NOT ABOUT YOU!
It’s about what you can do for the company’s bottom line, which is all the hiring manager really cares about (typically and mostly).
Your resume should always speak to your audience’s pain points by showing how you can solve their problem. The way you show this is including the results and accomplishments you’ve had when solving similar problems in your previous jobs.
The reader knows that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. They’ll want to learn more about you if you can show how you’ve excelled in the past in problem solving.
But you have to speak their language.
And you must connect the dots between your past experience and your audience’s current needs.
How to make it all about them
In order to do this, you must know something about your audience. This is why you must research the company you’re applying to. This is also why you can’t rely on one blanket resume for each job.
It’s important to really analyze the job ad to figure out what they need from the new person in that role.
Start by looking at what are the top 3–5 skills listed in the requirements for the job. Can you think of a specific time when you’ve demonstrated each skill? What was the result? Can you quantify the result? How did it impact the company’s bottom line?
- Did it increase profit or revenue? By how much?
- Did it decrease spending? By what percentage?
- Did it save man hours? How does that translate to dollars saved?
- Did it increase customer satisfaction or decrease customer complaints? By what percentage?
- Did it make processes more efficient? How much time did this save?
- Did it boost staff morale? How much did productivity increase with this boost?
By showing the byproducts of your good work, the hiring manager can infer that you can and will produce similar results for them.
Not sharing those results will leave the manager wondering if you’ll be a productive and valuable addition to the payroll. Don’t leave your audience in the dark!
The result of including results
Defining your results and being able to articulate them tactfully is one of the biggest challenges of a job search or promotion negotiation, but there is help.
I work in depth with my clients on how to properly word their results and accomplishments for both their resumes and their responses to interview questions.
By doing this, my clients gain a better understanding of their skillset and greater confidence in their net worth, resulting in successful salary negotiations, higher salary offers, and better promotions.
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service, and a certified life coach and certified transformational coach. She has over 15 years of experience as a career adviser.
This article first appeared on Quora.