So at the beginning of the year there was a “biggest loser” contest at Incepture. Immediately competitiveness rose up in my mind to win…losing weight was secondary! If you have been around me long enough you know that I don’t like losing. The interesting part is that I’ve tried ‘fad diets‘ before but never stuck with them as many of us have experienced. In this case, I decided to accept the challenge, but not without a plan first. I gathered my thoughts/ideas, wrote out my plan and followed it, but having a strategic plan is important in all aspects of life…not just diet.
It is the same with your job search and it starts with your resume. When building your resume, a strategic plan is essential. Write out your thoughts, figure out your strengths, and ask yourself questions about what you’ve accomplished. Don’t take the easy way out and only list your job titles, dates of employment and provide happy talk about your soft skills. This won’t cut it anymore in today’s job market. Just like dieting, put in a little hard work to get noticed.
Concrete examples and tangible results will get you further than vague summaries and abstract language but this takes time, effort and a plan! Not everyone got an A in writing class so below are some more explicit instructions for those who struggle to make their primary job search document “attention-grabbing.”
Here is the strategy!
- Use action verbs – Action verbs are those that show movement, e.g. completed, delivered, provided and managed; My favorite….spearheaded.
- Write a result – Results are statements that use numbers (preferable) or conclusions (like an award). For example, “increased ROI by 3 percent” or “improved process ‘X’ saving the company ‘Y’ amount of dollars.”
- Write the benefit to the business – The benefit to the business is what importance your work was to the overall goals of the business. These include additional revenue, reduced cost, or increased efficiency.
So, if you want to avoid your resume getting tossed, you need to “prove it” by adding your achievements / accomplishments. Your strategic plan should be to turn your traditional resume into a portfolio of important results you’ve delivered to the business. Statements like “Worked on the XYZ project” says very little, but “Managed the $3-million dollar XYZ project and delivered it on time and on budget” gets attention!
Always make it your strategy to share concrete accomplishments. Even if you’re just doing an internship, focus on creating a situation where you can have a tangible, measurable accomplishment to add to your resume at the end of the experience.
Here are some important questions to help jog your thought processes. Consider the following:
- Did you help increase sales? By what percentages or amount? Did you generate new business, bring in new clients, or forge affiliations with new organizations? Did you save your company money? How much and under what circumstances? Did you design and/or institute any new system or process? What were the results? Did you suggest and/or help launch a new product or program? How successful was the effort? Did you improve communication in your firm? With whom and what was the outcome? How did your company benefit from your performance? What have been the top 3 things you have accomplished in this position? If you have numbers or metrics that you can include, please note those, too. What has been your biggest challenge? How did you overcome that challenge? How have you distinguished yourself in this position? What awards, contests, or honors have you achieved in this position?
In closing you might be wondering if my strategy worked to win the Incepture ‘biggest loser.’ The answer is yes! I lost 35lbs by eating right and exercising over 4-5 months losing over 17% of my body fat. It may not be an accomplishment that will make it on my resume, but I sure do feel great. The reality is that I would have never lost the weight without a strategic plan and a little outside motivation. What does this look like for you in your job search? It starts with a good resume! The next step is to consistently share the message as presented on your resume as your own story and brand!
More to come…Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn until then.