Your resume shouldn't be your old job description

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of your resume: the bullets in your Experience section.

Your bullets (resume OR LinkedIn) should NOT be mere “descriptors” of the job but instead, should be about your achievements. Too often, I see the kinds of “before” bullets that at one point in time were lifted directly out of the original job posting, even from 10 or 20 years before! When the person landed the job, they took on those statements in their resume, and never looked at them again.

You can tell because the bullets read like this (for a Senior Operations Manager), for example: 

  • Responsible for the whole Operations team: Selecting, onboarding, developing
  • Responsible for the $1.2M budget
  • Will expand logistics and measurements of the department
  • Guides the future strategy especially as it relates to expansion or contraction of the group
  • Performance measured by __, __, and __

and so on....

The language is acceptable for a job description. But as bullets in a resume, it is stilted, the tasks cited are too broad, the bulleted item sometimes uses the future tense, and none of them is about a select achievement that shows the candidate can do the job. The problem with this is that the statements are about what the former company at one time HOPED to accomplish – and not about what the employee (eventually) HAS accomplished. 

A symptom is that there are many possible achievements "buried" in each one of these bullets, that need to be brought out and made clear. So one bullet might turn into 3-4 as you "un-hide" what you’ve accomplished. Otherwise someone reading the items will be thinking, "So? What did this person actually DO?"

Instead of descriptors that don’t pass the "so what" test, your bulleted items should be about accomplishments, achievements, your impact. It’s great to have numbers to show but you can still do this even if your jobs isn’t numbers-driven. Here is a before and after example.

Bullet before:

  • Responsible for the whole Operations team: Selecting, onboarding, developing

Bullet(s) after: 

  • Manages the 14-member Operations team of Logistics, Continuous Improvement, Business Partnership specialists, adding to the department’s wins while keeping the budget under last year’s levels
  • Created microteams of 3, helping to onboard new members who are productive 3-6 months earlier than before
  • Meet 1:1 with each team member at least once a month, to give development coaching and to listen to -- and address -- concerns. Result: turnover down 53% in first year

I hope that example helps you see why you should take one more look at your resume. Help it do its job of landing interviews for you: talk about accomplishments and successes. That’s what they want to know about, and you can do it!


Having trouble getting your "Experience" bullets to read like this? Contact me (use the Contact form) and even after a brief conversation, you’ll be able to point out that you can DO that next job, and as a result will get more interviews from your new, more powerful resume.


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