Picture this. You’re ready to look for a new job but there’s one thing holding you back: updating your resume. Actually, maybe you don’t need to picture it because that scenario is your current reality. If it is, it’s time to snap out of it and get to it so you can start making those moves in the new year. We’ve all heard that recruiters typically look at resumes for a few seconds so you want to make sure your bullets are crisp and easy to read. As you’re writing up your resume bullets, here are 4 questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re standing out, not blending in.
1. Is this an accomplishment?
It’s not new information that your bullet points should showcase accomplishments, not tasks. However, you would be surprised how many tasks are still floating around in the resume bullet ecosphere. It is pretty common for us to want to show the recruiter all of the amazing things that we’re capable of doing, but what really matters are the results. If you’re not sure what the difference is between the two: a task describes something that you did (e.g. managed social media marketing efforts), and an accomplishment shows the result you achieved (e.g. managed social media marketing efforts, resulting in 30% YoY growth).
2. Is this bullet clear?
It might be obvious to you what your job means or what your company does, but that doesn’t mean it’s clear to the recruiter. Avoid acronyms, and make sure you are providing any context that might be necessary for the reader to understand your bullet. For example, let’s say that you’re about to make a career pivot from the real estate industry to the tech industry. Avoid using real estate jargon that makes no sense to someone working in tech. Put things in layman terms so your accomplishment is clear to the reader.
3. Is this bullet simple to read?
Your resume is not a place to show off your expansive vocabulary. It is also not a place to write run-on sentences or bullets that span across 3 lines. Keep things simple. Similar to clarity, simplicity is your friend. Be concise, to the point, and show your results.
4. Is this bullet quantified?
Quantify wherever possible. Remember that example from question #1? The original bullet was vague, and didn’t tell the reader anything. The moment the candidate added in a number with their result, it showed the reader not only what the candidate accomplished but also how much they accomplished. You can quantify in different ways. It could be by specifying a timeframe or a concrete result. Quantifying results in specificity.
And, because I like to add bonuses, as you write out your resume bullets, also remember:
- Proofread! Use spell check, and check for grammatical errors.
- Use a template. Google has great ones.
- Drop things like “Objective,” and “References available upon request.” Both are completely unnecessary and a bit old school.
Ok, got the memo? Great! Now, start resume writing!