I started out with the title “Creating a Memorable Resume,” but I realized ‘memorable’ is ambiguous — you could be that girl with the coffee-stained, crumpled piece of notebook paper. Someone you’d remember? Yes. Someone you’d hire? Probably not. You want your resume to say, “Hi, my name is ____, and I’m an emerging rockstar in this industry. Hire me now, before someone else does.”
The number one rule of rockstar resume writing is: Show that you can bring the most ROI — return on investment — to an organization out of all the candidates for the job. In business, think profit margin — reducing costs or increasing profits. In non-profits, ROI could mean raising funds or 100% commitment to the mission. Asking for a job is asking a company to invest in you. To get hired, you have to show that they’ll get more from you than from anyone else applying. Here are three ways to do that effectively:
- Eliminate the phrase “Responsible for” from your resume, and replace those responsibilities with accomplishments. Did you raise funds? Did you improve a process that saved the company money? Did you get an award or lead a team (even classwork is OK!)? If you’re thinking, “Pulled an all-nighter to finish that stupid English group presentation,” say “Collaborated with team of 3 students to finish 30-page research paper on deadline and presented findings to 20 students.” If it’s not an accomplishment (or you can’t make it one), leave it off your resume. Side tip: achievements seem bigger if you multiply them into bigger time frames. E.g., three a day turns into 45 a month.
- Use action verbs and numbers. Begin each bullet point (yes, you should use bullet points) with an eye-catching verb. Notice how I used ‘collaborated’ in the example above? Others like it include jump-started and spearheaded. Here’s a list with tons more. Also quantify your achievements. A 30-page research paper is more impressive than “a research paper.” Entering 800 names weekly into database is better than maintaining the company database. If you’ve had anything to do with money, use a dollar amount. “Spearheaded alumni relations campaign that raised $1,500.” If you’ve led a team of five people, say so.
- Include a positioning statement near the top of your resume that explains why you’re the best fit for the job. This should be a variation on your elevator pitch, tailored to the specific company. For a business major applying to work at an internet marketing company, it could be something like, “strategic, tech-savvy graduate looking for opportunity to blend finance and computer experience.” But it’s OK to be human, and in fact, it’s usually better. So if you’re in the writing spirit, try to fill in the phrase, “I’m happiest when…” with a career-related sentence or two that shows you mesh with the job. Mine is: “I’m happiest when I can blend my passions for strategy, creativity and efficiency to produce high-quality, budget-friendly results.” And I rearrange it to include aspects of whatever job I’m looking at.
Looking for more resume hints and tips? Here are some sites to help: