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Show, Don't Tell For Resume Success
"Show, don't tell" is one of the pillars of good writing, and nowhere is it more important than in the world of resume writing. The average resume I receive will include a Skills section that reads something like this:
"Able to use MS Office Suite on a day-to-day basis. Basic IT knowledge to help others with problems with their PCs. Proficient in PowerPoint presentations and graphing information. I am an organized team player with the ability to learn quickly and a willingness to accept responsibility. I am a dependable person, who works well independently. I possess the ability to multi-task and handle high levels of confidentiality."
To the untrained eye, this might seem to be exactly what an employer wants to see. After all, who wouldn't want to hire someone with these skills as an administrative assistant? The problem is that employers see resumes like this day in and day out. So who wants to look just like everyone else? The most important element of your resume is one called your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. That's the quality about you that makes you stand out from everyone else. Telling the employer how much you're like everyone else won't establish you in the employer's eyes as anything except a cookie-cutter imitation.
There's a bigger issue at stake here, however, and that is that when the employer reads something like this, s/he probably thinks, "Where's your proof?" That's right when you simply tell rather than show what you can do, you've done nothing more than making an unsubstantiated claim. Anybody can claim they can use MS Office Suite or make PowerPoint presentations. There's nothing special about that.
What if, instead of saying "Proficient in PowerPoint presentations," this job seeker said, "Created customizable PowerPoint presentations for client marketing that reduced presentation building time approximately 75%"? Now the employer has a real accomplishment s/he can visualize, with a genuine result. This person didn't just use PowerPoint, they used it to the company's advantage in www.office.com/setup
Let's look at the second half of the job seeker's claim: "... and graphing information." That can become, "Built charts and graphs using MS Excel that supplemented sales forecasting and reporting systems and reduced unnecessary and time-consuming steps in processes." There's another genuine accomplishment with a result.
How about another claim by this job seeker? "Able to use MS Office Suite on a day-to-day basis." Why not tell them what you did with MS Office Suite? "Composed proposals utilizing eye-catching graphics that presented information clearly and won approximately 80% of bids." www.office.com/setup
Show them, don't tell them to build a successful resume. Employers don't buy skills and duties; they buy accomplishments.
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