3 minute read

Résumé Writing Roadblocks

Keep The Audience In Mind When Writing Content

Job Seeker's Story

Marie, a Project Manager, created a résumé that she believed would really tell a reviewer about the projects she had been involved in during her time with her last employer. For example, three of her bullets read:

  • • Led the ABC project as part of the Jump and Go initiative, which was a major success, progressing seamlessly to the delight of all key stakeholders.
  • • Coordinated the $30M “Jump and Go” project—an initiative to migrate AS400 servers to a two-tier redundant environment aided through the development of automated Javascripts that transitioned to server one in a domino effect and later filtered reports for use by programmers who utilized UAT to ensure an optimum go live experience in the local offices.
  • • Gained peer distinction by qualifying for the NAR following successful participation in Omega. Recognized by Managing Director for consistently delivering RARs that surpassed all expectations for ROI. Received a Galleon Start for contributions.

She saw these bullets as full of detail and telling a story of exactly what her responsibilities and contribution to the projects entailed. However, when she submitted her résumé to numerous employers she had very few responses. In fact, it seemed her responses were all companies who worked on the contracts with her company and were familiar with the specific projects.

Job Seeker's Stumble

Each one of Marie's bullets represents a different challenge:

The first bullet assumes the reviewer of the résumé is intimately familiar with her project already and understands it fully. It actually says very little and leaves the reviewer wondering what successes were achieved, what was the Jump and Go initiative, what progressed seamlessly, what were the results, and who was happy and why? This is why her only employer responses came from companies who had been involved in the projects.

The second bullet equally assumes the reviewer is familiar with both the project and the overwhelming array of techno-speak that follows. Marie has made the mistake of expecting that the first person to review her résumé will be a technology guru who is familiar with her projects and the company's operations. In truth, it will most likely be an individual who has been given brief information by the employer to search out some keywords and phrases, and identify information that communicates the job seeker's achievements and experience.

The third bullet neglects the fact that acronyms will most likely be unfamiliar to many reviewers skimming the résumé, especially if they are unique to the company where they were utilized. In fact, acronyms that are not defined just create stumbling blocks for reviewers. Marie lost the reviewer's attention by providing impenetrable and unclear content.

Job Seeker's New Strategy

In order to avoid making similar mistakes, there are a few steps to take that specifically emphasize the importance of separating ego from the résumé writing process. When you get caught up in assumptions about what reviewers will know and understand, you frequently just end up confusing them. Instead, you need to make sure that your content will make sense and cross the bridge to your reviewers’ understanding. You can do this by:

  • • Assuming reviewers know nothing about you, what you do, why what you do is important, and how your achievements have made a difference to your current and past employers’ prosperity or operation.
  • • Anticipating reviewers’ needs and eliminating cloudy or dull information in favor of facts that relate to your experience and how you made the workplace a better place in which to work.
  • • Expecting that, even if you know the acronyms that your industry or company uses, your reviewers may not. It is always a great idea to spell the acronym out the first time it is used.

Utilizing these strategies, here's how a rewrite of Marie's three bullet points might look:

  • Eliminated network congestion, improved staff productivity, and transformed standard management reports into informative decision-making tools by leading a team of six on the $30M Jump and Go initiative.
  • Designed a simple, yet effective infrastructure, troubleshot and resolved numerous issues surrounding incompatible hardware and software, and delivered the Jump and Go project within the three-month deadline and meeting budget forecasts.
  • Won acceptance to company's prestigious National Assessment Program (NAP) for Managers—an elite succession planning initiative rewarding the state's top two managers.
  • Successfully completed company's benchmark customer service program Omega, in tandem with gaining recognition for pinpointing asset volume anomalies, which prompted Managing Director's public praise to surpassing goals.

When you articulate your strengths and achievements in a meaningful way, you provide reviewers with a door that opens into your world. Take the time to make sure you communicate information clearly and concisely to help reviewers see your value.

Additional topics

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