You’ve heard that your resume should be more than a list of responsibilities -- it's a story that explains why you’d be great for the job you’re applying for. But a lot of our clients struggle with what belongs in that story, especially when they're trying to convey results and accomplishments. Should you craft a bullet point about the time you saved the production $25K by switching to off-brand snacks for crafty? What about the new spreadsheet you designed to make reporting more effective, because your boss was using post-its to track everything instead of Excel? Is it relevant that you rolled calls for three bosses, one of whom had a serious temper? If you include too much information, you might start to sound a little ridiculous.
We often see candidates make the mistake of listing their key skills and illustrating them with “highlights” like the specific, detailed anecdotes above. Doing so often makes your resume harder for a hiring manager to parse through and may feel redundant. Plus, it can be tricky to convey the significance of your proudest accomplishment in just a few words. You'd do best to save some of this more nuanced information for the interview.
On your resume, you should want to focus on the big picture -- what are the key takeaways that will match the skills listed in the job posting? In the above examples, you might say “Managed production budgets and implemented cost-saving solutions,” “Created new tracking system,” or "Supported three executives." If you feel the need to get some results in there, that's fine, just make sure they're results that can be conveyed in a few words: "Implemented cost-saving solutions that saved $25K." Alternatively, you may want to add a little more about how you did something: "Created new system for tracking project submissions using Excel." This is okay too. What you'd want to avoid is: "Converted supervisor's post-it reminder system into an Excel submissions tracking system to increase departmental efficiency." See the difference? Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. It's a waste of valuable resume space and makes you sound silly.
But don't discount all of these great stories and accomplishments -- even if they don't belong on your resume, they're still very important! Save them for the interview. When you're asked about an achievement you’re particularly proud of, your biggest strengths, or how you managed a challenging situation, use these anecdotes as examples to bolster your argument.
It can be frustrating to look at your resume and not see the full picture of who you are as a worker. No one wants to be boiled down to a one page document that relies on bullet points and white space! But it’s important to remember that your resume is step 1 of your job application. You can supplement it somewhat with a cover letter, but the real moment to shine is the interview. Your resume should be simple, concise, and effectively communicate that you meet the basic requirements of the job at hand -- the last thing you want is for a hiring manager to get overwhelmed by the details and miss the bigger picture of your capabilities.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan