“I hate writing my resume. It’s just not in me to brag or boast.”
I read this wildly inaccurate statement not long ago on a job search forum and it was clear to me just how the individual had missed the mark with the whole concept of resume content.
A resume is not about bragging or boasting. A resume tells the truth.
Experienced recruiters, employers and HR professionals can spot embellishments with just a glance. What they can also see is fluff, self-congratulatory statements with no proof, cut and paste job descriptions that float into air when they try to be grasped, and information lacking in substance.
This is the stuff of job seekers who experiment with words and phrases designed solely to impress.
Here are some examples:
- Demonstrated communication and interpersonal skills to liaise with people at all levels. What exactly does this mean? What proof is shown that indicates how the job seeker has used those skills to deliver something of value to an employer? This is purely business-speak. Attempt to grasp it or ask questions about it in any way, and it silently floats away on a bubble of air.
- Involved in the development of the tallest building in the world. Self aggrandisement. A job seeker is desperately attempting to make his or her participation sound important by speaking of large, impressive projects or initiatives. The recruiter knows that just a few questions about what specific involvement and actual job tasks will have the job seeker’s knees turn to jelly. If it turns out that he or she made coffee for the architects or project managers who actually were creating the world’s tallest building, the job seeker’s credibility has just flown out the window with the crumpled resume following in hot pursuit.
- Operate contemporary fiscal transaction facilities while delivering superior customer service daily. Verdict: Overstating the facts, embellishing to make the job sound better than it is. This real-life phrase was used on the resume of a Checkout Operator from a local supermarket chain. It highly overstates the job tasks of a person processing grocery orders where the “superior customer service” is typically a bored, “Hi, how are you today?” in tandem with an expression that screams “I couldn’t care less”. Giving the individual the benefit of the doubt and assuming he or she is the best Checkout Operator in the history of the world, then citing narrative examples that prove customer service excellence will carry more weight with recruiters as these examples will show truth, not words created to impress.
So, just how do you write about noteworthy accomplishments, without tooting your own horn or sounding endlessly smug and vain?
It’s simple. Tell the truth.
It has that ring of, well, truth to it! And, people always recognise it when they hear it.
Here’s an example of a truthful statement.
- Created a new business development campaign that for the first time in the company’s history, used multiple components of website promotions, direct mail, and an exclusive black-tie event designed for VIPs. By the first quarter, sales volumes had rocketed by 34% against the previous year and new accounts had grown by almost 22% through the VIP special event invitation to “Bring a Friend”.
Quantifiable achievements with numbers and actions deliver the ring of truth to a resume.
And it is not fluff, not self-congratulatory and not bragging.
All you need to do, is show how your actions made a difference.
It’s that simple.