Very few people enjoy writing or updating their résumé, but it is necessary. The best way to dive into this task is to shift your mindset so you view it as a positive experience.
Have you ever stumbled upon an opportunity too great to pass up, only to find out that you need to apply for it as quick as possible? People find themselves in this situation more often that one might expect, and if you don’t have your résumé updated and on hand, it could create a big problem. Instead of thinking of updating your résumé as a necessary evil, think of updating your résumé as your opportunity to look back at your accomplishments and pat yourself on the back.
Think of it Like This...
In her new book, Your Twenties: No one ever teaches you how to grow up, you know? career coach Jessica Smith tells readers to “think of updating your résumé as a special time to admire all you’ve accomplished.” Shifting your mindset and taking this perspective when updating or writing your resume helps to create a more positive experience, and also helps you accept credit and acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished. The biggest challenge people face when writing their résumés, and on the job search in general, is selling themselves short and underestimating their value. Think about this when you update your resume. Be proud of your accomplishments, take credit where you deserve it, and highlight all that you can bring to the table.
Here are some guidelines on how to highlight your accomplishments and write an effective resume.
Decide How You Want to Portray Yourself
Most people don’t think much about it, but you are a walking billboard, and you have the power to give off whatever perception you want through your résumé. The first step to writing a great résumé is to figure out what kind of jobs you’re interested in applying to, and then figure out how you want to portray yourself for those positions.
Perhaps you want to focus on one area of expertise to highlight on your résumé, or maybe you want to present yourself as an expert in the field as a whole. Figure out what you want to your résumé to say about you, and stick to it. If you want to focus on one area of expertise, ensure that it is visible throughout your document. On the other hand, if you're going to present yourself as knowledgeable in different areas, make sure that you touch on each of those specialties in every job description.
Make a list of your strengths
A key factor in any resume is a skills matrix at the top. This ensures that someone can look at your document and quickly tell what skills you possess. If you know that you aren’t great or could use some work in a specific area, don’t include it. You want this list to highlight only your strongest areas, so that employer or hiring manager focuses on your strengths and not your weaknesses.
By omitting areas that you need to work on, you will only draw attention to what you’re good at.
Make a list of your accomplishments
Anyone can claim that they are a great employee, but very few people can actually show it. Your résumé is your opportunity to present the best version of yourself, so show potential employers all of your accomplishments and achievements. Provide evidence to your claims so that they can see what you bring to the table and how you will be beneficial if hired.
Have you increased sales?
Have you been recognized for your success?
Have you implemented process improvements or cost-cutting techniques?
Whatever you have done to improve your company and/or department, you want to show it on your résumé. Don’t be afraid to calculate numbers from your own data. As long as you can prove your calculations, you can use them on your resume.
Want more data to use? Ask your manager. Phrase it in a way which shows that you’re trying to improve, not potentially leave the company. A good way to ask is something like this:
“I’m trying to compile some data to measure my progress in this role and see how I can continue to improve. Is there anything that you feel I’ve been particularly successful with or an area you feel I excel at?”
This will give your manager an opportunity to give you praise and potentially give you some constructive criticism as well, both of which will be useful when writing a résumé. That being said, phrasing your question like this will provide you with some information without giving away that you’re looking at other job opportunities.
When it comes to updating your résumé, it’s important to shift your mindset to position the experience in a positive light. It’s your opportunity to pat yourself on the back and acknowledge all the amazing work you’ve done! This is your time to be proud of yourself and articulate all that you have to offer! Highlight all of your skills and achievements, do the research, and put forth the best document possible. Your résumé is your opportunity to present the best version of yourself, so take advantage of that and show people what you want them to see!
A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your résumé, style, and boost your confidence.