I know that we all face contradictory feelings about our accomplishments: sometimes we boast about them and sometimes we hide them; sometimes we are annoyed because no one recognizes them and sometimes we demand recognition we barely deserve.
Those contradictory sentiments often show up in the resumes that job applicants bring to me for my professional review and rewrite.
A recent college graduate started out his resume by saying, “Because I had to work my way through college, I did not have the luxury of choosing an internship in my field.” Anyone who works their way through college has an accomplishment worth boasting about; however, a basic rule of resumes is to never mention what you do not have; always concentrate on the positives. I made sure recruiters and hiring managers knew that he had worked his way through college but eliminated the reference on the resume to the internship he did not experience.
A job applicant, an entry-level data entry clerk, believed that every skill deserved to be written up as an outstanding accomplishment. This applicant’s resume stated: “Contributed to growth of $5 billion multinational corporation with extremely accurate and timely data input.” Accurate and timely data input is a valuable skill, but at the entry level it does not have much effect on the growth of a $5 billion company. I made the most of the entry clerk’s achievements but kept them believable.
In my last example, humility was carried to such an extreme that the job applicant left off valuable skills and accomplishments with the contradictory attitudes that “everybody knows that” and “no one wants to know about that.” Companies write detailed job descriptions because they want to hear from people who match the requirements of the job. If you leave off a skill or accomplishment because “everybody knows that,” hiring managers and recruiters will simply assume you do not measure up to the requirements. In addition, sometimes companies are swayed in a candidate’s favor because the candidate offers a skill or accomplishment the company never considered asking for—foreign languages or certification in lean manufacturing, for example. By sharing those accomplishments, you make yourself stand out as a candidate who could bring extra value to the company.
If you need help deciding what to leave in and leave out of your resume, please contact me. I help individuals with those decisions every day.