If you are wondering why you aren’t called in to interview for great job opportunities, it’s undoubtedly because your resume is not “powerful,” and significantly undersells your abilities and experience. Having worked with major corporations on the design of their hiring and resume screening processes, I can attest that nearly all applicants fail to adequately highlight themselves in a way that increases their chances of being selected for further evaluation. While you may actually be a very good fit for the roles and the organizations to which you have applied, chances are that your boring resume doesn’t instill that perception in the 15-20 seconds that those charged with screening resumes typically spend per applicant.
Even if you are not currently seeking a new role, failing to adequately highlight your achievements is a weakness that can impact you throughout your career. When it comes to performance appraisal, promotion consideration, and even day-to-day work assignment, learning how to influence the perception of you as a performer is key to ensuring that your career reaches the heights you desire.
Over a decade ago, Fast Company magazine dubbed me the “Michael Jordan of hiring,” so if you want to have a resume as powerful and effective as Michael Jordan’s actually is, consider each of the checklist items that follow.
Bolster the Content of Your Resume
While an unusual format may garner a few seconds more of attention, it may also prevent your resume from making it through electronic sorting and filtering tools used by larger corporations, so it is best to focus on what your resume says about you, versus the font, layout, and embellishment used. (This is true for online profiles as well; spending hours adjusting the color pallet and background and only minutes on the content doesn’t facilitate stronger networking.) To maximize your appeal, focus on powerful “selling” points that cover your results, your impact on the organization, your skills and your ability to manage and lead.
For each of the items on the checklist, mentally review your working life, as well as other outside work responsibilities, for experiences/activities that relate to the item. For example, if you are seeking a role that calls for leadership skills, ask yourself how many times you were a leader of a project, a subproject, a team, or even a meeting/event. It does not matter if you were never formally appointed a leader or given a leadership title; if you have successfully led others, you should reference leadership as one of your attributes. Feature leadership terms throughout the content that comprises your resume, including sections covering your experience, education, and extracurricular activities.
Continue through the checklist until each of the factors appears at least once in your resume. When you have reached the end of the checklist, step back and admire all that you have done and accomplished, and can do again in your next job, ad then raise your career goals and expectations!
Thirty “Power Factors” to Bolster the Content of Your Resume
- Result or accomplishment — everyone wants employees who produce results, so you need to find a way to list every significant result, output, or accomplishment. Your resume should include dozens of performance-related references. (Example: Achieved 100% of ___ rollout project milestones while being first to implement ___ within the division.)
- Quantify results in dollars — the language of businesses is dollars, so characterizing the dollar impact of your accomplishments on the organization can be a key differentiator. It’s OK to use estimates if you can explain your logic. (Example: implemented changes to the ___ process that resulted in a 32% increase output with no noticeable impact on quality).
- Skills used — listing the work you did but omitting the array of skills that you need to accomplish that work is a major omission in most resumes. You should never mention a task or accomplishment without highlighting both the technical and people skills required to accomplish it. Start with a list of all the skills that you can find in job descriptions of interest and try to mention each one. (Example: Used root cause analysis to track an emerging issue back to a change that had been overlooked many times and used strong Internet research skills to gather supporting information and build a business case to successfully convince a skeptical manager to address the issue.)
- Demonstrate the quality of the work — you need to clearly demonstrate that you do high-quality work and that you understand and deliver quality consistently. Whenever you mention the volume of your work, also mention indications of its quality. (Example: Consistently ranked top producer within the division while maintaining the lowest error rate and a 98% customer satisfaction rate.)
- Awards and honors — mention all recognitions received for outstanding work. Don’t forget shared and team awards, or informal awards created by local managers. Include awards received both in school and on the job. (Example: Awarded employee of the month six times.)
- Leadership — employees who can lead are always in demand. Mention cases where you led a team or project, even if informally. Highlight challenges addressed and leadership methods used. (Example: Assembled and led a team responsible for developing a plan to expand scope of services provided, overcoming resource limitations, personality conflicts, and communication breakdowns to successfully present the case to the executive committee).
- Management tools used — even if you were not a manager by title, show that you did use common management tools and processes during your assignments. (Example tools to highlight: team work, quality control, conflict resolution, CRM, time management, process reengineering.)
- Technology tools — few things are more important these days than the ability to use and understand technology. Look for work examples that demonstrate your ability to learn and leverage emerging technology. (Example: used online groupware to create a project management office providing a common document repository, shared calendar, alerts, and staff assignments for key projects within our division.)
- Worked with key people — individuals who have the opportunity to work with key people and executives are assumed to be among the best. If you worked for or with a famous individual, highlight them. Also include enough information so that the reader will know their importance. (Example: Was selected by my divisional vice president to serve on a committee led by our CEO to evaluate key customer satisfaction.)
- Level of innovation — in a rapidly changing world, few things are more important than innovation. List new ideas or innovations you developed, even if the innovation was not implemented. Show that you are an outside-the-box thinker and often among the first to try new things. (Example: Suggested adoption of three new technologies to improve internal productivity, two of which were immediately adopted, yielding a 73% increase in workforce efficiency.)
- Buzzwords — business people love functional/general business buzzwords, and merely using them reveals that you are current. Buzzwords should be included in descriptions of both your experience and education. (Example: Participated in a 6-Sigma evaluation exercise of our ___ process.)
- Organization — almost every job requires organization, and if you can bring stability from chaos, you are valuable. Share how you took confusing and chaotic tasks and situations and effectively organized them so that they ran smoothly. (Example: Assumed responsibility for combining project documentation and assignments of seven local offices being consolidated into one regional center of expertise.)
- Problem identification — if you can identify problems before they become severe, you are quite valuable. List situations where you identified a problem that no one else saw and show them that you thrive in situations where there are lots of problems. (Example: Worked with individuals from four departments to uncover unique situations that led to key customer complaints resulting in significant changes to long-standing customer evaluation and support processes).
- People management responsibilities — in addition to leadership skills, general people skills are often a differentiator for technical jobs. It is important to highlight any time you helped with training, hiring, supervision, coaching or employee development, even if done rarely and informally. (Example: Assumed responsibility for training team of seven new hires during department leads leave of absence).
- Financial responsibilities — demonstrating that you were given financial responsibility shows that management trusted you. List any time, even if it was brief, where you managed a budget, were responsible for cash or other major spending decisions (Example: Charged with evaluation and selection of $3.2M worth of new equipment for the ____ project.)
- Selling capabilities — no matter what your job, the ability to sell ideas and products internally or externally is extremely valuable. Demonstrate that you effectively sold executives, vendors, or owners on new ideas. (Example: Developed arguments for a maintenance proposal that led our vendor to alter the service level agreement and reduce annual maintenance fees by 27%.)
- Customer service — almost all jobs require some customer service knowledge and skill. Even if you were not in a customer service role, demonstrate that you have relevant customer service skills that apply across many situations. (Example: Worked with several colleagues following assignment of a new manager with a very abrupt management style to our division to restore positive working atmosphere and resolve assumptions limiting productivity.)
- Wrote/Presented — anyone that can write reports or who can make important presentations is extremely valuable. Include any time that you were asked to write something or to make a presentation. If the audience included important people or was large, say so. (Example: Selected by my team to develop and present key revisions and changes to product implementation methodologies before 4,000 key customers at our global user conference.)
- Planning/Forecasting — employees who are forward-looking are the most desirable. Highlight situations where you forecasted future events or put together a plan, even if informal. (Example: Developed an emergency response plan following news that a court judgment on a highly publicized case would be announced in a building adjacent to ours during business hours. The plan was later used as a template for disaster planning across the company.)
- Goal-setting — the best employees are goal-oriented. Show that before you start a major project, that you set, communicate, and get agreement on goals. (Example: Worked with team members to clarify and set feasible project goals on the ___ project that resulted in avoidance of four possible project derailers.)
- Time management — you need to demonstrate that you are conscious of time limitations and deadlines. Show that you completed work in a timely manner or even that you were the first to do it. (Example: Was the first within my division to complete all milestones on time.)
- Efficiency — everyone needs workers who are efficient and conscious of costs. Whenever possible, show that you completed tasks efficiently and under budget. (Example: Successfully implemented ____ using only a fraction of the support budget allocated, reducing project cost by 9%.)
- Extensive contacts — being well connected and having extensive contacts is an extremely valuable asset for any individual. Demonstrate that you used your contacts to get access, answers, or information. (Example: Leveraged industry contacts to get unbiased feedback on two service providers being considered for a long-term contract, uncovering a volume of pending complaints and possible litigation against our leading contender.)
- Any major company names involved — in addition to mentioning the names of key individuals, you should also mention the names of well-known and innovative firms you have dealt with including notable customers, strategic partners, vendors, or consultants. (Example: Worked with McKinsey & Co. on the deployment of our groups product with Google, General Mills, and Dow Corning.)
- Global perspective — almost every employee is expected to have a global perspective these days. Even if you don’t have formal international responsibilities, show that you have the capability of working with those from other countries. (Example: Partnered with colleagues in China and India to localize customer evaluation and ranking processes developed there and slated for global rollout.)
- Benchmarking — the ability to capture information and answers from industry leading firms is extremely valuable. Highlight situations where you researched benchmark best practices both inside and outside of the organization (Example: Compiled summary of best practices in rapid skill development among professional service firms such as Accenture, Deloitte, and EY.)
- Used metrics — you can’t continually improve anything without metrics. Provide examples that demonstrate you start projects with clearly articulated results metrics in place and that you leverage the metrics to inform decisions. (Example: Devised customer service satisfaction and service efficiency metrics prior to the rollout of new CRM software that would later be used to optimize service center staffing levels.)
- Consulted — if you have had the opportunity to provide technical or functional advice to others, formally or informally, you are viewed as an expert. Highlight where you consulted or advised others internally or externally. (Example: Consulted with several key clients to transfer knowledge on our approach to learning collaboratively using social media.)
- Training — in many companies, access to advanced training means that you are a top employee. Highlight training courses, seminars, workshops and any-advanced training on emerging issues that you participated in. If you have taught training classes, even if they were informal, include that also. Under your education, be sure and list any key skills and tools that you learned and “hot topics” covered in your classes. (Example: Represented my division at industry working groups on ___, and then developed informal internal knowledge sharing summaries for others in my group.)
- Diversity — show that you can work with and understand people from different backgrounds. (Example: Used my knowledge of Spanish and Italian to assist global customers when translated support materials were not available.)
Supplemental Convincing Factors
The following elements can and should be used within any resume point to make it stronger and more convincing.
A comparison number — numbers are powerful, but to an outsider, a single isolated number might not mean much. As a result, it is always a good idea to provide a comparison number to show context. Comparison numbers can include the very best in the industry, the best number inside the firm, the average number, last year’s number, the target number, or your competitor’s number (Example: Broke previous sales records by selling 13 additional units on average, per period, and producing revenue 146% above average in our industry.)
Quotes are included — a direct quote from an executive, supervisor, coworker, or even a customer can add credibility and perspective to any accomplishment. (Examples: Was highlighted in my manager’s annual departmental performance review to senior leaders and the “most valuable” team player).
Killer phrases are used — there are certain phrases in business that are universally accepted as signs of good work. Wherever possible include phrases like … “cut costs by xx%,” “completed the project under time and under budget,” “used technology to improve customer service,” “did more with less,” “increased market share by xx%,” “increased margins by xx %.”
A web link — resumes contain only words, and sometimes your actual work is your most powerful selling point. Wherever possible, provide a direct Internet link to your work or reference to your work. In other cases, mention where a sample or a video of it is available.
As both an adviser to talent managers and a business school professor, I get to see both sides of the job search picture. I understand how corporations screen resumes and what it takes to be consistently selected for an interview. Students and experienced professionals alike struggle to present themselves optimally because they rely on antiquated career guidance and assumptions about what others will value.
The one universal truth about resumes is that if it does little more than list your jobs, it provides little value to you or the organizations you apply to. A resume should be a comprehensive marketing document detailing your capabilities, skills, and accomplishments. It should be kept current and used not only when seeking employment, but also as a memory jogger when filing for an internal transfer, promotion, or completing a performance self-assessment. To ensure you are not underselling yourself, use the search feature in your word processing program to see how many times the factors highlighted in this checklist actually appear. If you find, as most do, that over half of these words are not present, kick yourself in the butt for underselling yourself for all these years!
Time Management Skills List and Examples
Examples of Time Management Skills for Resumes,
What are time management skills and why are they important to employers? Time management means working efficiently, and employers in every industry look for staff who can make optimal use of the time available to them on the job. Saving time saves the organization money and increases revenue.
Why Employers Want Strong Time Management Skills
Employees who manage their time well are more productive, more efficient, and more likely to meet deadlines.
They focus on the most important and time sensitive tasks and limit the amount of time wasted on non-essential duties.
Effective time management requires staff to analyze their workload, assign priorities, and maintain focus on productive endeavors. Employees who are excellent time managers can eliminate distractions and enlist support from colleagues to help accomplish their goals.
During a Job Interview
Time management skills, like other soft skills, are in demand. Interviewers will be asking questions to assess your ability to manage your time, and the time of your team if you’re in a supervisory role.
Review these time management interview questions prior to your job interviews, so you’re prepared to respond with specific examples of how you effectively manage your workload.
Also, review these time management skills for ideas of what to share with prospective employers.
Top Time Management Skills
It is usually impossible to do every single that you need and want to do all at once, but if you prioritize well, you should be able to complete the most important tasks in an order that makes sense.
When assigning priority, consider such factors as when each task needs to be done, how long it might take, how important it might be to others in the organization, what could happen if a task is not done, and whether any task might be interrupted by the need to wait for someone else.
Scheduling is important, and not only because some tasks have to be done at specific times.
Scheduling affects your day, your week, your month, as well as other people, their projects, and their short and long term plans for projects and tasks. Most people also have specific times of the day when they are more and less energetic, and become more productive when they schedule themselves accordingly. Schedules can be a good way to avoid procrastination, too.
Keeping a To-Do List
To-do lists (properly prioritized and integrated with your schedule) are a great way to avoid forgetting something important. They are also a great way to avoid spending all day thinking about everything you have to do. Remembering tasks takes energy, and thinking about everything you have to do all week can be exhausting and overwhelming. Split all the necessary tasks up into a list for each day, and you won’t have to worry about any of it anymore. Just look at today’s list.
Resting, even though it may seem contradictory, is an important time-management skill. Although working long hours or skipping breaks can sometimes improve productivity in the short-term, your exhaustion later will ensure that your average productivity actually drops. Except for rare emergencies, it is important to resist the temptation to over-work.
Include necessary breaks, and a sensible quitting time, in your schedule.
Depending on what type of work you do, you may be able to delegate some tasks. Knowing what to delegate and when is a skill. Some people resist delegating, either because they want to maintain control or because they want to save money by not hiring assistants. Both approaches ultimately hurt productivity and raise costs.
Remember too, however, that if you practice time management diligently and still can’t get everything done, you may be trying to do too much. It is better to succeed at a few tasks than to attempt and then fail at many.
Examples of Time Management Skills in the Workplace
A - E
- Adapting plans to changing circumstances
- Allocating time for specific tasks
- Analyzing processes and selecting the simplest way to accomplish a task
- Asking for help when overwhelmed with demands
- Assertiveness to say no to inappropriate demands that distract from central duties
- Attacking more complex tasks when you have the highest energy and sharpest concentrations
- Auditing how time is spent
- Avoiding excessive small talk with co-workers
- Avoiding procrastination; acting instead of worrying
- Breaking broader goals into smaller parts and focusing on one step at a time
- Breaking up projects into manageable parts
- Creating daily, weekly and monthly “to do” lists
- Creating schedules
- Delegating more routine tasks to lower level staff
- Eating well to maintain energy
- Eliminating time wasters
- Exercising and participating in other stress reducing activities during leisure time to maximize energy when at work
F - Z
- Facilitating efficient meetings; sticking with time frames for meetings
- Grouping similar tasks together to limit transition time
- Maintaining an organized work area
- Multitasking; shifting smoothly from one task to another
- Openness to more efficient ways of doing things
- Organizing digital files for easy retrieval
- Planning your day the night before or first thing in the morning
- Prioritizing requests and demands
- Prioritizing a list of projects and focusing on higher value tasks with more immediate deadlines
- Putting cell phones aside to eliminate the distraction of personal messages unless required for work
- Reviewing performance and eliminating deviations from priorities
- Setting daily, weekly and monthly goals
- Setting realistic standards for quality and avoiding perfectionism
- Setting specific times for responding to email
- Taking short breaks to restore energy
- Touching each piece of paper or reading each email just once, whenever feasible
Skills Lists: Employment Skills Listed by Job | Lists of Skills for Resumes
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