There are a myriad of questions that candidates about writing a resume. Here three of the most commonly asked:
1) I have so many accomplishments. How do I determine which ones to include on the resume?
This is a fair question. Since the resume serves only as a synopsis of your accomplishments, you won’t be able to include everything you’ve ever done. However, it is important that you identify all your achievements and then take great care in determining which ones you will include. Below are a couple of thoughts that you will find useful when making a decision.
- An exercise that hones in on your accomplishments is the PAR formula. PAR stands for problem, action, and result. Using the PAR formula will help you identify achievements you want to include on your resume. Take the time to reflect on your experiences and using the PAR formula, jot down every accomplishment you have for each job you’ve held. For example, are you a sales professional who increased profits? If so, how did you do it, and how much did profits increase? Alternatively, you may be a customer representative who has the ability to diffuse escalating issues with clients. Can you give an example that illustrates this talent, perhaps with a big-name client or an “impossible” problem you solved?
- Once you have written down all of your accomplishments, select the ones you are most proud of and prioritize them in order of importance to the position you are seeking.
- Another way to determine which accomplishments should be included on a resume is by examining your performance reviews. Take note of the comments your manager made and the achievements he or she focused upon. Chances are, if your current manager was impressed by a specific accomplishment, your next employer may also be impressed. So consider including the observations made by your current/previous manager.
You can also include accomplishments in your cover letter as well. So if you find that you have a lot of accomplishments, you can make mention of some of them in the cover letter. However, keep in mind that your resume should contain the accomplishments you are most proud of, while the cover letter should contain supplemental accomplishments that may be of interest to the decision maker.
2) I’m not comfortable writing about myself. How can I overcome that?
Many job seekers feel uncomfortable writing about themselves, so you are not alone. To overcome this uncomfortable situation, keep in mind that the employer is expecting you to toot your own horn. Remember that decision makers don’t know who you are, so it is up to you to provide them with a fair and accurate representation of what you bring to the table.
In addition, the resume isn’t written in the first person, so you will not be using the terms “I” or “me.” Instead, your resume will be full of action verbs such as operated, managed, or streamlined. Because you eliminate the use of personal pronouns, you can pretend you are writing about a friend or a family member. Disassociating yourself from the resume may allow you to be less bashful when writing about yourself.
3) How long should my resume be?
The answer is: it depends. If you are a recent college graduate or have less than three years’ experience, a one-page resume is appropriate. On the other hand, if you are in middle management or have more than three years of experience, a two-page resume may be necessary. And if you are a “C-level” executive, the resume can be much longer.
The reality is that there isn’t a definitive answer to this question. The rule of thumb is this: after reading your resume, do you think to yourself, “Wow! I’d hire me in a minute!”? If the answer is yes, then length is inconsequential.
Here’s a quick tip when writing your resume that may cut back on the length: only go back 10-15 years and don’t mention positions you held before that.
Author Linda Matias is certified in all three areas of the job search - Certified Interview Coach (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW). She is a contributing writer to over 15 career-related books. You can visit her website www.careerstrides.com
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