By Jim Wong, CPA | September 25, 2013

Your resume is a chance to show your qualifications, achievements, skills, and ambitions. It’s also a chance to tell a contextual story of your success.

There are probably many people applying for the same job, so the question is: How can I prove I’m the one who will add the most value?

“Your resume needs to be more than a description of the roles you previously held. It needs to tell the story of you,” says Rich Hein, contributor to CIO. As part of the magazines IT Resume Makeover, Laura Smith-Proulx worked with a 13-year IT veteran to rework his resume, and shares some tips along the way that translate well to every industry, including accounting, finance, and IT.

Tell Your Story
To create a resume that tells a story, don’t look at each job as a separate chapter. Make it easy to digest so hiring managers can get a feeling for who you are at a glance. Are you a great mentor? Leader? Negotiator?

For example, Smith-Proulx discovered her client had great experience in technology and operations. “A lot of the ways he was contributing to the business had its roots in how he was open to suggesting and following through on some major projects that yielded significant benefits for his company,” she said.

Change the Layout
You don’t have to use the same, tired resume layout. “If there is something critical in your background it needs to land on your first page and preferably in the top half or it just won’t be obvious,” says Smith-Proulx.

Add a summary section to showcase your career milestones. But, make sure your career highlights are succinct and easy to digest. Move them to the front so the hiring manager can get a good feel for what you did for your previous employer.

Add a splash of color to break up the white space, use a bolded font to make things stand out, or use a different font when highlighting skills.

Highlight the Correct Skills and Achievements
Highlight the skills hiring managers and recruiters are looking for. This means you should tailor your resume to each job you apply for. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort. If your most relevant experience is buried, chances are the hiring manager will never see it. If they are from five or ten years ago, pull them out as bullet points. Smith Proulx also suggests bringing what was notable about each previous position to the forefront.

Tie Efforts to the Bottom Line 
Hiring managers want to see how you earned or saved your company money. Did you implement a new software program that saved the company money? Did you discover you were overpaying a vendor? These results can be tied to the bottom-line, so showcase them on your resume.

Add Business Keywords
Often, job seekers feel the need to include industry buzzwords. This can be challenging when you’re trying to describe your career. Smith-Proulx suggest breaking keywords out under each position, “…because it gives you a little direction and it shows the scope of each position.”

Your experience is only one part of what will land you a job. When you tell a story in your resume, it will be far more robust and meaningful than just a list of descriptions, and help you stand out in a crowd. The new resume is easy to read, value-focused, and tells your story at a glance.

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