How To Write A Great Resume
I realize there are many options when it comes to writing a resume, but I’m not talking about any old resume; I’m talking about a great resume. There are a lot of requirements for producing a document like that, but in this post we’re only dealing with one—specifics.
What Are Specifics?
Specifics are what separates the plain and ordinary from the extraordinary. They can make the difference in your resume being tossed in the trash or moved to the top of the “to be interviewed” pile.
The concept is not new. It has been around in the writing world forever. All good writers know that specifics, or details, are what adds flavor to their prose. Take these two paragraphs as examples.
Tony walked in the back door and stopped. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, taking time to savor the aroma—Mama was cooking her red sauce again.
Tony walked in the back door and stopped. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, taking time to savor the aroma—onions, basil, garlic, and the lingering smells of pan-fried meatballs—Mama was cooking her red sauce again.
There is nothing wrong with the first paragraph. It paints a fine picture, but the second paragraph does a far better job of it, just by adding a few details. Now, let’s look at some everyday occurrences to get a better idea.
I could tell you all day long that my granddaughter is cute, and always happy, but it won’t mean much to you if you don’t know her. However, if I showed you this picture of her, you could then see for yourself.
Or suppose I told you that my dog Briella was one of the biggest female Great Danes in the world. It wouldn’t mean much until you saw her. This picture shows all of her 180 pounds in good detail.
There is a huge difference between show and tell. And that’s what you need to do with your resume. You need to show the gatekeepers what you’ve done. The results are just as dramatic. Let’s look at some real-life examples.
Get the Edge With Specifics
These examples were taken from resumes I received. I only used one example from each resume in order to save space. The experience looked good, but these candidates weren’t taking advantage of citing specifics, one of your most powerful tools.
Candidate A: As Director of Project Management, took responsibility for company’s most critical project and delivered it ahead of time and under budget.
Candidate B: Took over a floundering sales territory and turned it around in less than one year. Instituted new training program and put new sales incentives in place. Won Sales Manager of the year award and received bonus.
Candidate C: Using extensive experience in designing traffic routing systems, came up with innovative solutions for a major school district. New system cut commute times, saved gas, and cut cost on repairs and maintenance. Increased safety by a factor of 6, and improved ranking to an enviable level. On-time delivery of students now ranks among the best in the nation.
Listed below are the same resume examples after I asked the candidates to take time and provide the details. If you don’t have details on your resume, and you’re up against someone whose resume reads like this, you could be in trouble.
Candidate A: Managed a $12 million project critical to company’s success. Brought project in six weeks ahead of schedule and 9% under budget, saving company more than $1 million, and allowing an early launch of a highly anticipated new product.
Candidate B: Took second worst territory in country (#19 out of 21, with a loss of $640k), and turned it into fourth best territory in country (#4 out of 21, with a profit of 1.6m), exceeding goals by 220%. Achieved this by re-invigorating the sales force using revamped incentives and instituting a new training program.
Candidate C: Designed an innovative new routing system for a major school district, integrating GPS and ATMS (automated traffic monitoring systems).
• Cut commute times by an average of five minutes each way for more than 13,000 buses. This resulted in a savings of $4M in gasoline, and an estimated savings of $2.2M in repairs and maintenance.
• Cut miles driven by almost 1 million miles, reducing accident per driver hour by 42%.
• Brought district from 27th safest, to 3rd safest district in the country in two years.
• On-time delivery of more than 100,000 students went from a low of 93% to a record-setting 99.8%, fourth best in the country.
A resume is not much more than a document filled with facts—name, education, work history, dates…
Most people write their resume and then check to see if it’s okay. They run a spell check, maybe have a friend look at it, make sure there are no mistakes. And then they send it out.
For many people that’s fine. But a resume can be so much more. The next time you put a resume together, try this—instead of checking to see if you have mistakes or if everything is in place, try looking at each line and asking yourself, “How can I improve this?”
Before hitting “send” on the resume, do this:
• Examine every accomplishment and make sure you have provided details, rankings, sales numbers, percentages.
• Don’t tell the gatekeeper you did something, show them what you did and how you did it.
If your resume looks like the first examples, you might get in the door for an interview, but if it looks like the second examples, you will get the interview.
If you thought this was informative, please share. And don’t forget to check out my book, No Mistakes Resumes. It only costs about two cups of coffee.