July 22, 2018

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How to Make Your Resume Sell

The most problematic part of a resume for people seems to be crafting their accomplishments. The confusion between an accomplishment and a responsibility is the difference between generating excitement by selling what you can do, and making a bland statement that elicits the question "So what?" Itís the difference between being invited in for an interviewÖ.and getting no response at all.

A responsibility reads as if it was taken from your job description. It fails to distinguish you from any other person that held that title before you, or holds that title at any other company. It says your function, but it doesnít speak to your ability to perform that function.

By contrast, an accomplishment is what differentiates you from any other person that does, or has done, that job. It not only indicates how well you perform your job, but what type of person you are.

How does a factual accomplishment reveal something as subtle and subjective as a personality trait? Measured with the length of time you were at a company, your number of accomplishments indicates the degree to which you are a go-getter. It says if youíre motivated to go beyond the average job, and how much pride you take in your work.

It tells the hiring authority if you look for problems and find ways to solve them, or if you are content with saying, "Thatís good enough." And it also tells him how well you know your job by how well you solved those problems. Letís look at an example. If youíre a teacher, a responsibility might read:

Which leaves the following questions:

Interviewers want answers, not questions. Since the responsibility statement doesnít indicate how well you performed your job, itís easier not to invite you in for an interview. Interviewers donít know if you have accomplishments hiding behind your responsibilities. They assume you donít have anything to say, because you didnít say it. They donít care that perhaps you didnít know how to say it. If your resume doesnít sell you, itís not their problem. Itís yours.

By contrast, the accomplishment version of the same statement might read:

This says youíre worth talking to. Then at the interview, it opens the field for the interviewer to ask you for more information about what types of programs you implemented and how you implemented them.

An accomplishment is a results-oriented statement. It shows the benefit of hiring you by telling what you can do. What youíre saying is, "I know what you want done, and Iíve done that. Iíve done it successfully for my previous company; therefore, I can do it successfully for you. When you hire me, you arenít risking an unknown. Youíre hiring someone who has a proven ability to do the job successfully."

Thatís what interviewers want to know. Thatís what they want to hear. They donít want to wonder, and they donít want to figure it out. If your resume doesnít indicate what youíre capable of, the chance of an interview in which to sell yourself is slim.

If youíve been sending out resumes and getting nothing in response, take a look at your bullets under each company name. Do they just say what you did, or do they say how well you did it?

Youíre selling a product, and the product is you. The interviewer is the buyer, and your resume is, in effect, your marketing brochure. But if the buyer isnít interested, you canít close the sale. And thatís your problem, not theirs.

- Judi Perkins

© judi perkins

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