Is your résumé a professional obituary?
Is it me, or do we get so caught up with including what we do on a daily basis (our duties and responsibilities) that we forget to tie those things to company/department/division successes and achievements? Instead, we rattle off, what I call a professional obituary, the routine information about our past and our present, leaving out work-related quantifiable context. (Similar to a real obituary shown below; note, some identifying details have been changed for privacy reasons).
“…. graduated from New York University with a BA in 1958 and the University of California with an EdD in 1963 …. first taught at Michigan State University, then began his career at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY in 1964. He was a psychologist in the Reading Clinic, becoming chair of the Reading center and a full professor. He received the Distinguished Service Award, was named Teacher of the Year, and was given a service award from the Nassau Reading Council.”
Take out a few pronouns, adjectives and prepositions and you essentially have today’s résumé, don’t we? Well, when we do this, we run the risk of potential employers not being able to see how we served as a critical member of the team at our present job or how our skill-set will transfer and translate to their team’s success. To say nothing of doing a disservice to our own personal brand.
When working on your résumé, you have to start off thinking big, in terms of projects, processes, and accomplishments. In the past year, what did your company or department accomplish? Reduced turnover by 10%? Increased production by 25%? Created a new customer-focused strategy that has improved services and reputation management by 50%?
Once you’ve nailed down what was done as a whole, start formulating how you contributed to those successes. And, really, as you go about your day, you should always look at how – what you do – contributes to the department’s and/or company’s goals and objectives. (Keep a little notebook and pencil with you so you can write things down as they come to you.)
Remember to bring together the quantitative and qualitative facts with YOUR share (your portion) of the accomplishment. It may be tricky at first, but after a few revisions, you’ll get the hang of it. Again, employers want to see what you’ve done, other than or in addition to, the basics. Paint the picture for them. That is, a professional Rembrandt, not a professional obituary.
(Note, don’t bang your head against the wall if you can’t quantify any departmental successes. For example, young people just entering the workforce, while they may have one or two jobs under their belt, may not necessarily have information and facts to pull from, and that’s okay. In that case, speak to how what you do or did, made the office a success, a well-oiled machine. On the flipside is taking credit for accomplishments that we had absolutely no involvement in. Don’t go this route. Why? Because anything and everything can be fact-checked. With that said, regardless of what job you’ve held in any company, you’ve contributed something of substance, whether you realize it or not. So, pens up! Let’s get to work.)