How an Active Resume Earns Job Offers
Hiring managers want to know right away how a candidate will affect the
employer?s bottom line. When they review resumes, they look for the answer to
the question, "What can you do for me?"
"In reviewing the resumes of senior-level managers, we look for people who
drive the process through the end," says John Sands, executive director of human
resources for operations at Estee Lauder in Melville, N.Y. Like many hiring
managers, Mr. Sands wants to see candidates? results on their resumes. The
results should be quantified and the activities that produced them, such as
building strategic partnerships with other parts of the organization, should be
described. "Results of the latter type are extremely important to our company,
particularly as we strive to operate as a fully integrated organization," he
Showing Your Impact
When job seekers prepare resumes and self-marketing materials, they usually
can answer the "Who are you?" and "What do you do?" questions well enough in
their documents. But they falter when answering a third, key question, "What can
you do for me?"
Career development professionals say it can be hard to get job hunters to
appraise their achievements. "Very often it seems as though I?m pulling teeth
when I interview some of my clients to get their hard-earned results clarified
for their resumes," says Pat Kendall, principal of Advanced Resume Concepts in
The task became an overwhelming effort for a bank manager in Ridgewood, N.J.,
who needed to prepare a resume for her job search after 10 years with one
employer. She had started as a customer service representative at a community
bank and had progressed to a senior management position as a consumer lending
manager. Her job performance had been rewarded with three promotions. But like
many successful professionals, when she wrote the first draft of her resume, she
produced a document that read like a dry job description?mainly because she?d
drawn heavily on the description to create the draft.
With 10 years? experience to review, the bank manager had to do some
digging to uncover the results that showed her true capabilities. After
assessing her achievements with a professional resume writer, she was able to
match her responsibilities with her accomplishments and produce a resume that
answered the question: "What can you do for me?" This before and after table
shows how she transformed her document:
Monitor automated loan-processing system to
ensure efficient usage.
Led task force to select and implement fully
automated loan-processing system using customized software. Reduced
turnaround for loan approval from 24 hours to approximately a half-hour.
Review all loans and advise on credit
Designed a tiered credit-scoring program to
assess credit worthiness. Gained substantial revenue through improved
interest rating, particularly of high-risk loans.
A finance/accounting executive in Washington Township, N.J., also was unable
to identify his results when preparing his resume. His most recent job had been
a two-year stint as director of financial planning at an international firm, but
previously he?d worked for 15 years at a Fortune 500 company where he?d been
promoted seven times. He also needed to assess his achievements before he could
convey results in his resume. By using measurable examples, his resume?s career
experience section conveyed a far more powerful message. The following shows how
he was able to get results into his resume:
Prepared financial reporting analysis for the
consolidated electronics group for both internal and external users.
Responsible for the financial management, control and reporting needs of
each location for senior management.
Implemented new approach to evaluating
financial data based on the principles of "cost drivers" and "benchmarking."
Reduced operating and staffing costs by 20% in the first year of use.
Reviewed business plans for development
activities into new businesses and/or markets from a financial perspective.
Monitored and adjusted business plans of 15
fledgling enterprises, formulating new approaches and identifying new
markets with general managers. Brought combined operations of two entities
Note how words such as "reduced," "gained" and "brought" help convey results,
not merely describe actions. The National Resume Writers? Association in New
York recommends candidates use strategically-selected key words and active verbs
which focus on what is relevant to readers as the best way to create a dynamic
message and hold interest.
Human-resources managers review hundreds of resumes for each open position,
searching for proof that a candidate is worthy of interview time. Richard Gross,
human-resources director for Innovation Luggage in Secaucus, N.J., reviews
resumes for career progression and stable work histories. In addition, he looks
for candidates who convey their accomplishments, as opposed to providing "just
job descriptions." He says statements that tell how much or what should be
supported by those that say how a result was accomplished or what effect it had
on the organization. For example, Mr. Gross says, "in addition to a percentage
of sales increase, I like to see what the candidate specifically has done to
contribute to the increase."
Answering the question, "What can you do for me?" requires assessment and
thoughtful analysis. Helpful ways to jog your memory to dig for those results in
your past work experience include:
Reviewing result words, such as augmented, advanced, expanded, saved,
reduced and improved, and connecting them to actions or responsibilities.
Brainstorming lead questions such as: How much was produced, sold,
generated or saved? Was it done in record time? How were clients satisfied?
Sales saved? How were operations, workflow, quality or marketing improved or
When your resume answers these questions, it becomes a self-marketing
document that produces results because it conveys results.