Resume writing is tough. I get it—it’s not easy to write about yourself. A blank Word document is often intimidating, but when it’s waiting to be filled with information about yourself it becomes even harder to get started writing a quality resume. I don’t know many people who excel at writing about themselves—and I’m a certified resume writer who works among a lot of professional resume writers. Even some of the best writers in the industry hire their colleagues when they need a bio written or their current resume or cover letter updated. No matter how good a writer you are, or how much human resources experience you have, personal branding for yourself is always difficult.
Applying to jobs can be stressful enough, but if you have the added pressure of needing to write an entirely new resume or update a current resume to better fit the positions you are now applying to, writer’s block is likely to appear. But your resume is the most important document for securing career advancement, and it’s only natural to wonder how you can improve your resume.
Writing a professional resume, especially an executive resume that stands out, requires that you do more than just list out the jobs you’ve had and the responsibilities they entailed. Effective resumes send a strong message about the applicant and the value they can bring to a company.
You have the relevant experience, and you have the accomplishments—now you just need to write it out and put it in a format that makes your professional experience impress a recruiter or prospective employer. Easier said than done, but I have some advice for how you can make writing a professional resume a little bit easier on yourself.
So how can you make the daunting task of crafting your career history into an effective professional resume or executive resume a little bit easier? Here are three tips to help you out.
Focus on Facts
Figuring out how to focus on facts and figures in your resume can be difficult, especially if your professional experience hasn’t been focused in an area like sales that can be easily translated into numbers. It can be ever so tempting to speak in generalities and hit on broad strokes from your career.
If you’re looking to just fill in a resume and use the “right” words, you might hop on Google, search for resume samples, look at a couple of websites and see some vague statement on a resume sample and think to yourself “That sounds good—and it could apply to my history and my strengths.” Next thing you know, it’s on your resume. The only thing you’ve succeeded in doing here is making yourself look just like thousands of other candidates who went to a free resume site and copied a free resume. You’re not the only person doing this—and that’s the problem. Employers and recruiters can easily read thousands of resumes in a year, and maybe even hundreds throughout a single hiring process, and they know the clichés. Resist the temptation to use resume templates. It might be easy, but it will result in you creating a resume that is nothing but vague.
Instead, focus on the facts that are unique to you and your experience. Tailor your resume to your professional experience and your accomplishments—if you want your resume to stand out, you have to write an original resume (and cover letter) that directly addresses your work history, abilities, and your career goals.
Before you get started writing out a draft of your resume, make some lists and brainstorm to come up with solid facts about your experience to include on your resume. Facts are going to be far more effective than buzzwords and fluff in getting the attention of prospective employers who are focused on hiring achievers. Try to answer the following questions about your professional experiences and accomplishments:
– How much (money, time, resources)?
– How many (people, projects)?
– How often (times per day/week/month)?
When you focus on the facts that are from your career and your career alone, it’s impossible for your resume to sound like anyone else’s. There is no one else alive with your unique set of skills, experiences, or expertise.
Hit Your Target
Can you write a general resume that you can use to apply to a variety of different types of positions? Sure, you can. But I wouldn’t recommend it. The problem with writing a catch-all resume is that it won’t catch ANYTHING. Unfortunately, coming off as a jack-of-all-trades means you look like a master of none. That’s not a good look to an employer. Generic phrases and broad descriptions of your work experience do not make an effective resume. An efficient resume, yes. An effective resume? Absolutely not.
You need to position yourself so that a recruiter or employer will see the value in hiring you and the benefit they’ll get from choosing you and your skill set over another applicant. To do this, you need to target your resume for a specific position, and write both your resume and cover letter in such a way that they provide the evidence to show how you’re the best candidate for that role, and that company.
Show You Are an Overcomer
It’s fine that you met the minimal requirements and qualifications of the position. Almost any applicant can say that. How have you gone above and beyond in your professional life, though? If it’s hard to remember exactly what you’ve accomplished, think in terms of challenges and obstacles you ran into. No one has an employment history free of challenges.
Now, I’m not talking about dealing with an irritating manager, or a co-worker you just couldn’t get along with. I’m talking about solving problems for your company—the challenges you overcame that made a tangible difference in your company’s performance, in your team’s efficiency and workflow, or even a solution to a seemingly small problem that simply took your ingenuity and ability to see the problem to overcome it. An employer wants to know that you can take initiative, be creative, and solve problems for them. But just saying that you can do those things means nothing unless you have the evidence and tangible examples from your work history to back it up.
Similar to my recommendation for listing out facts above, I recommend that you take some time before writing your resume to answer a few questions about your career and work experience in general, and then use what you’ve come up with to create a resume that is more narrowly focused. Thinking through the following questions can really help get your brain motivated to think in the way that you need to in order to write a resume that will work to get you an interview and—hopefully—the job you are eyeing.
Here are the questions you should answer within your resume about what you’ve successfully overcome in your career:
– What are some challenges you faced during your time in the position?
– How did you address the obstacles you ran into throughout your work experience?
– What was the outcome? Did you overcome? Was it a success? Can you add the result to your list of achievements?
Using questions like these helps to jog your memory about all those great things you accomplished in your past. Brainstorm and create a bulleted list—put down everything you think is something that demonstrates how you’ve made a difference to your employer(s). These achievements should make you feel proud of your contributions throughout your career thus far. But what’s even better is they create great substance for marketing your value to potential employers.
Writing about yourself can be hard, but if you follow the three easy steps I’ve outlined above you’ll be well on your way to creating a compelling resume that will generate interviews fast. If you decide you’d rather trust an expert with the task of developing an interview-winning resume, please get in touch with the team of professional resume writers at Great Resumes Fast. I’m happy to share about our 99.996% interview-winning success rate and how we’d love for you to be our client, have a professionally written resume, and be our next success story!
Our team is made up of certified resume writers who come from careers as HR professionals and have experience within specific industries. We know how to use your individual experiences, goals, and professional brand to create a modern resume that potential employers will pay attention to. While we are professional writers, we’re more than a writing service—we take the time to get to know you through a phone consultation and then shape a resume that works for you so you can achieve your career goals. From the written content to the type of resume and resume layout, from your work experience to your education and professional associations, we go above and beyond to personalize your resume and ensure it’s relevant to your strengths and your goals. Too many so-called professional resume writing services take the easy way out with surveys and resume templates. We never have, and we never will. It’s why we’re one of the top resume writing services!
You can contact us to learn more, or head over to our page of resume samples to see our work in action. Your resume is more than a document—it’s an investment in your future.
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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