Transform your activities into achievements.
If you’re reading this, then I’m willing to wager that you have a résumé. Yet I’m also willing to wager that you’re making a critical mistake on this critical document. In short, I suspect that some of your bullet points cite activities rather than achievements.
That’s understandable. Achievements are tough to articulate, let alone accomplish. Yet if you want your résumé to stand out, then you absolutely need them. Specifically, you need to transform your day-to-day responsibilities into distinctive results.
Here’s a simple, short example (exaggerated for effect):
“Designed ads for clients.”
Really? You “designed ads for clients”? “You’re hired!” said no one, anywhere, ever.
That’s because this bullet point doesn’t explain why your activity matters. Put simply: So what? Did the client select your designs over those of your peers? Did the ads lead to more revenue for your company? Elaborate! Quantify! Concretize!
How? Here’s one possible rewrite:
“Designed ads that won over a demanding client.”
See the difference? The rewrite answers the question, “What happened as a result of your actions?” In other words: So what?
Here’s another before-and-after:
“Wrote press releases.”
“Wrote press releases that lifted TPI’s media coverage by 20%.”
Again, the difference is dramatic: Without results, your activities are utterly forgettable. With results, the hiring manager can imagine that you’ll achieve the same feats for her.
Is Now the Right Time?
If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering, Is a global pandemic really the best time to job search? That’s a fair question. Here’s my response:
Even in this crisis, headhunters, brands, media outlets, and PR agencies are still hiring. (The latter especially includes lobbying firms that have a “communication” department.) Yet if you thought it was tough to break through in our pre-Covid era, it’s doubly so now that everyone is haphazardly adapting to our working-from-home milieu.
If you want your résumé to get lost in this shuffle, then do what everybody does: Listlessly tick off your duties. If you want your résumé to get results, then make it result-worthy.
Jonathan Rick helps people to perfect their résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and elevator pitches. If your résumé has a “skills” section, he wants you to rethink this waste of space.
The above article appeared in PR News on April 28, 2020.