Whether you’re seeking a career change or looking to move up in your own company, having a great, well-crafted resume is key. No matter how long you’ve been in the working world, writing a clear and effective resume takes some thought and effort. It can be tough to boil down your experience and skills onto one flat sheet of paper. But, according to Penelope Trunk, the CEO and Founder of Quistic, “it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if you don’t know how to translate that to a resume.”
One of the biggest tips for writing a great resume is to think first, then write. A resume is essentially a sales-pitch. How do you want to be seen? Taking a step back to reflect on who you are, what you want and how to shape yourself on paper is important before diving in and writing the resume. Here are four questions to help you get started:
1. What makes you valuable?
This question seems obvious, but it’s an important one to ask. Think about the projects you had the biggest impact on in your past experience and why you were such a beneficial member of the team for that project. When brainstorming bullet points, think through three things:
- What situations and problems were you involved in helping solve?
- What did you do personally to contribute to the team?
- What were the results?
Make a list and take notes on the experiences that jump out at you. This thought process will enable you to write strong bullet points and demonstrate your personal impact at a company, ensuring that your resume will stand out against others that list generic accomplishments.
When thinking through this part, also dive into what makes you unique. One way to make a Senior-Level Resume stand out is to include more unique and specific skills that show your personality and can potentially spur a conversation.
2. What is your dream role?
Crafting a resume involves thinking as much about your future as it does your past. Tailoring your resume to a role you’d like is important. If you have the exact job posting, use keywords and include skills from the posting in your resume to reflect that you’re qualified for the position. If you don’t have the exact description, contemplate where you’d like to work and what roles or challenges you’d want to take on.
Once you understand where you’d like to go, think about the skills you already have that would applicable to those types of roles and emphasize them in your resume.
3. How can you quantify your experience?
Powerful word-choice and the ability to demonstrate skills on a resume are important, but being able to back up accomplishments with statistics is the kicker. A resume that has solid evidence of the skills described will stand out. Vettery's Candidate Experience Specialist, Drew Libin, says that one way to quantify your experience is by demonstrating the impact of a project you’ve worked on or a product you’ve built.
For example, if you’re a developer who worked on a new product for the sales team, you can include the % increase in sales due to the product. Numbers, percentages and ratios feel more secure and employers will be able to understand and trust the impact you’ve had in the past.
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4. What's your story?
This one’s a tough one, but it’s good to contemplate before putting your skills down on paper. Think about it this way: the hiring manager presumably knows nothing about you except what is written down on the paper they receive.
- What do you want them to know about you and your road to the current position you’re in?
- How do you make sense of the path you’ve taken thus far?
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, recommends taking control of your resume by examining your job timeline and “omit[ing] experience that dates back further than 10 years unless it’s essential to your narrative.” Outline the experience, skills and facts you want to include from your career journey in order to craft a story that you’re proud of putting down on paper.
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Putting in the groundwork upfront will save you time later. Plus, thinking through these questions will not only prepare you to write an incredible resume, but they also can help define what you’re looking for, and even prepare you for interview questions once your resume does the first step of getting you in the door.