Updated: May 28, 2019
Does your resume cut through the chatter to position you as a serious contender in today’s tough competitive job landscape? Or is it a 3 or 4 page catch-all of your experience in no specific order? If you’re not fully sure, read on. In the first article of this resume series, Metrics Sell, I wrote about the importance of including as many measurable metrics as possible throughout one’s resume. We must reframe our mindset when stepping into the job search arena – from one where it’s all about us and what we want and need in a new opportunity, to one about what the company or opportunities requires of us. If we shift to this perspective, we can better align what we bring to those positions, not only to better align ourselves to these opportunities, but also to make ourselves the better candidates. And the only thing that truly sells our expertise in the specifics they’re looking for is our experience getting successful results in what they want or need to accomplish.
With the exception of sales and operations resumes, I typically see those where I can tell my client has gone through multiple iterations editing the resume with a dominant question in mind, “What else do I want them to know about me and the experience I have?,” instead of, “What value do I bring to the table for my optimal next role?” This is the critical question where the details are not only distracting and detracting, but also likely to derail the very value proposition you’re trying to sell.
Focusing on the first, “What else do I want them to know about me and the experience I have?” My clients seem to fear that the person reading the resume will not know everything they have experience in, so like a shotgun, they start shooting bullets of attributes or qualification summaries in phrases and sentences in no particular order. Instead of creating a results-focused, impacting first page, I see numerous sentences like:
“Persuasive Communication – Advocate for the best solutions to business needs and facilitate communication and collaborative problem-solving among staff.”
While persuasive communication is a good attribute, this does not belong under results, as none are conveyed. In a bullet highlighting results, one could show an instance where persuasive communication was used to resolve a major conflict and the result that followed. For instance,
“Convinced skeptical leadership team to outsource development and testing for automation solution, decreasing costs by 35%, or $7M in first year while also improving quality 25%.”
This shows influencing and negotiating savvy and the results, with metrics that further substantiate both results and your skill.
In technology resumes particularly, quite often I come across resumes that tell me the “how” or “what” they did in long, 4-lined sentences that still leave me with the, “so what” at the end – meaning, I’m waiting for the result. For instance, I received an 8-page resume with sentences like,
“Leveraging various state of the art technologies (Azure AML, Cortana, Azure BI, Hadoop, Amazon EM, RDS, Redshift, AWSML, Hive, TensorFlow, Spark, Storm, Anaconda), researching graph databases and processing billions of events (IoT sensors, mobile, etc.) at a scale that most companies have not seen.”
Here I see the person trying to convey their expertise across each of these technologies but not telling me how these are resulting in company growth, efficiency, revenue, savings, etc. And how are they “leveraging?” Are they leading a team or multiple teams? (i.e. How many people?, At what scale?) This is especially important when we have the attention-grabbing line “at a scale that most companies have not seen.”
In this particular example, we worked on separating these technologies to bring forth the results, or at least the expected results. In one instance we positioned,
“Developed Petroleum Supply Chain SaaS product suite; deployed in Amazon Cloud, bringing $30M revenue in 1 year.”
In both of these examples, we see samples of either soft skills or attributes, and technologies being used as a way to showcase expertise. But in today’s tough competitive landscape, this is not enough. We can’t state that we know something. Frankly, not to offend, but nobody cares. A hiring executive, or more often a recruiter working on behalf of one, can only place your resume on top of the pile by showing that you are the best candidate worth an executive’s time. And the only way to top that pile is to present yourself as the candidate who displays the best results most aligned to that organization’s needs, pain points, or growth direction.