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8 Resume Tips to Help You Rise to the Top

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

1. Identify the value you bring to the position and the company.

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When it comes to getting ready for the job hunt, you want to be sure to want to put your best foot forward. Kind of like dating!

Back to the job search – be sure to take a critical eye and keep it up to date. Your resume and LinkedIn should be mirror images of your job history. The other social channels, well make sure you keep what should be private kept private. Censor offensive language, over sharing information about your personal life, and keep a Rated G approach to what you share. You can get a point across without being overbearing.

Your resume. It's your opportunity to stand out among all the other hundreds of applicants for the position you are applying. It should speak to your knowledge, expertise, and value you bring to the role. As a career coach who's reviewed thousands of resumes and served in various hiring capacities, I've learned the do's and don'ts of how to make a resume stand out. Here are eight resume tips:

1. Identify the value you bring to the position and the company.

Do your research on the company to know their services/products, mission, vision, and social channels. This is your own Intel on the company and you want to be prepared when you get called in for the interview. This will help you to identify skills and knowledge you have that can help on paper.

2. Research the person you might be working with.

If possible, you can tap into mutual areas of interest. Were you in the same club, sport, or social cause that the employer supports? What social responsibility does the company support? You might see you have common ground in that area also.

3. Determine what aspect of your career you need to showcase to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and abilities.

Usually when a company posts an open position, it includes a list of duties, required knowledge and responsibilities. Pay attention to information elsewhere in the job description as well, and read the company's reports, minutes of strategic planning sessions and other publicly available documents. And don’t miss an opportunity to speak to the person who previously held the position, if you can.

Armed with this information, you'll have a better idea of what knowledge, skills and abilities to showcase when summarizing your career experience, volunteer experience, awards and any other recognition you've received. For example, if you're applying for a management or leadership position, try to showcase experiences that demonstrate your ability to manage and/or lead.

4. Ask yourself, "Why is this statement important?"

When preparing your resume, continually ask yourself, "Why is this statement important?" Share only high-level activities that demonstrate your ability to perform. A way to demonstrate this ability might be to include a statement like "Continually recognized for neutralizing potentially hazardous situations that would have resulted in fiscal deficits and instead enabling corporate leaders to secure multi-agency contracts averaging $30K."

5. Include activities that showcase your value.

Hand-in-hand with tip No. 2, include activities that best showcase your value. Ask yourself, "Why is this activity important?" and "If it weren't performed at the required level or better, what would have happened?" Case in point: If you hadn't handled a matter expeditiously using your project management skills, what would have been the organizational outcome?

Identifying what activities and experience a company will find valuable is sometimes hard to do when you're new to the job market or career path, so do your research: Speak to someone who was in the position previously, review the position description and look up the company online to gain a better understanding of the scope of the enterprise. Your research will also demonstrate your ability to take initiative. It shows the interviewer that you're determined to advance in a career and don’t want just a job.

Another way to showcase your value is by adding a career objective or qualification statement at the beginning of your resume. When doing so, make sure the content of your resume backs up or reinforces what you write. For example, your qualification statement could read: "Extraverted visionary seeking to further extend strategic planning skills to the health care profession." Just make sure that you include on your resume work experience that reinforces your strategic planning abilities.

6. Share the actions, purpose and results of each activity.

Wherever possible, when you list an activity under each position you've held, provide actions, a purpose and results. You can use a bulleted list or a paragraph to get your meaning across. When using bullet points, a good rule of thumb is to include three to four bullet points.

Take care not to write like a job description. For example, don’t write: "Reviewed manuscripts each day." Use powerful action words and adjectives. But refrain from using words and terms that you don’t normally use. Be you. Instead of "Reviewed manuscripts each day," you could write, "Successfully reviewed voluminous manuscripts daily ahead of prescribed deadlines for the purpose of justifying $1.4B of expansion projects to an executive director." Doesn’t the second example provide a clearer picture of what you accomplished?

7. Don’t use "I."

Avoid using "I" on your resume. Why? First, a person who's reviewing hundreds of applicants' resumes is likely skimming them. So aim to be as succinct as possible. Second, if a machine is scanning your resume, it will likely be programmed to locate keywords. Pronouns aren't keywords, so save space for more pertinent information. Instead of writing statements beginning with phrases like "I accomplished," use verb phrases like in the previous examples I shared above: "Successfully reviewed" and "Continually recognized for."

8. Instead of using acronyms, explain or define the terms.

Acronyms often stand for highly technical terms that only a company insider would understand, so make sure you explain their meaning whenever possible. Doing this not only demonstrates your understanding of the work, ideology or processes but also your ability to help the layperson understand complicated terms. This is an ability that may be expected if the position involves briefing high-level executives or officials. If you can’t explain the acronym with one simple sentence, though, then just write out what it stands for.

These tips will take you from building your resume to preparing for your job. We totally want to acknowledge Sandra Hill as the original source for this goodness. You will find additional tips that I sprinkled throughout the article that reflect my own spin on how to approach your resume to get the most out of your time that should yield results. Reach out to Isabella for speaking engagements, training, or coaching.

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