During these trying times, job security is becoming more of an issue and with many staying home this is a perfect time to work on your resume.

I had the privilege of interviewing Alison Rakotonirina a career development and leadership coach from Boulder, Colorado, residing in Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin), Madagascar, with her family. She shares five attributes to a successful resume.

In 2013 on a leap of faith, Alison quit a job she loved, as Executive Director of an International NGO, to follow her husband to France. Presented with the opportunity to redesign her life and career in alignment with her personal values, strengths, and worldview, she committed herself to a new vision for work and family. 

Focusing on career pivots and leadership development grounded applied positive psychology and life coaching, she’s spent the last 6 + years writing resumes and coaching professionals around the world. Alison’s clients hail from around the world, including Japan, Oman, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Kenya, Madagascar, and the United States.

Today Alison Shares With Us Five Crucial Attributes To A Successful Resume.

These insights won’t be found in a resume builder or downloadable template. You might not hear them from traditional resume writers. These tips are perfect for traditional jobs, remote positions, freelance work, and apply anywhere in the world. 

Align Your Values With Your Work. 

Brené Brown says that “owning your own story is the bravest thing you will ever do.” Sounds great, but what does it mean for your resume? Putting your personal story in your resume is scary. At the same time, you must own YOUR story. 

Most job seekers get bogged down by technical details. Someone spends just an hour writing their resume but puts four hours into formatting. If that’s you — you’ve got it all backward. This method is the birthplace of pretty, but also dull and even disjointed resumes. In the worst case, it produces dead-end resumes.

So how do you put your story into your resume? A natural entry point is a values survey. What is it that you value in your work, peers, and in your ideal company or consultancy? Do you want a place that nurtures advancement? That commits to making an impact? Or that trusts their employees to work independently? What do you need and want in a job, and how does that align with your ideal employer? 

If you are a caretaker or a digital nomad and want to work remotely or with flexibility, be upfront, even in your resume. If you’ve got a “gap” from staying home, taking a sabbatical, or quitting your job to travel, own it. Write about it. Demonstrate how this makes you a better employee. 

Own your story in YOUR resume. 

Be Confident In Your Strengths And Natural Talents. 

If you’ve been sending out resumes without a positive response, you might’ve made the mistake of confusing humility with mediocrity. Your ideal employer needs to know what you do well, that you can learn and insight into your personality. They don’t need a regurgitated job description — they need to know that you understand your work and embrace your own strengths with confidence. Hiring managers pick and choose between the best “story” aka resume — so tell your story with confidence and joy. 

Call Out Your Accomplishments. 

Focus less on the metrics and minutiae of your daily tasks and instead think about mini-accomplishments. Recently I worked on a resume for a young man who’d been a consultant with a well-known agency. His resume was packed with bullet points of metrics, but no stories. Where is “he” in these metrics? What were his unique talents and contributions? When we dug deeper into his strengths and how he works, I uncovered a brilliant strategist and future CXO. He had a knack for translating abstract ideas and data into a straightforward narrative that executives or other decision-makers could understand. 

So, go ahead and make a list of all your critical tasks and metrics of accomplishments and then answer the questions: How do I work? What do I do that is unique? What problems do I solve? What do I actually DO? ditch the adverbs for actual descriptions:

  • Robot talk: Managed a team of 12 to achieve 1 million in revenues.
  • Human voiced: I selected, nurtured, and led a team of 12 new-hires to collaborate and generate a new SaaS solution that increased year over year revenues by $1 M working within project limits and under budget. 

Define Your Unique Value.

It is a daunting process to sift through a pile of resumes. So make it easy for recruiters by anchoring your unique value, aka your professional narrative at the start of your resume. Tell the hiring manager precisely who you are and why they should hire you — the rest of your resume should support this first claim! 

Do this by writing a performance profile paragraph at the start of the document. Write a dynamic text that describes who you are as a professional, how you work, what strengths you bring to the table, and highlights a few of your key accomplishments. 

Avoid using a self-centered objective or an impersonal and robotic professional summary. 

Throughout the resume, speak about what you do with joy—highlight positive quirks. Continually find ways to demonstrate why YOU are an excellent fit for this work. Tell the story of how and why you do the work that you do — after all, every resume is work hi-STORY. And whoever tells the best story wins. 

Edit For Readability

A pretty resume will not get you hired. Use minimalist formatting to draw the reader to crucial data points. Focus on the font and white space that makes it easy on the brain and eyes. The best practice for spacing is that paragraph text should be broken up (3 to 5 lines of text) followed by bullet points, with up to two lines per bullet point. The length of your resume is flexible — one, or two pages is generally ok — the crucial factor is that the content is relevant.

A few final notes — the header should be tidy and easy to read with a personalized LinkedIn URL. If you seek remote work, put | REMOTE | in your header. Check to make sure you’ve hit all relevant core competencies, skills, and or technologies. Print off your resume or save it to a PDF and read it for typos every time you make a change. Every. Time. 

In the end, make sure your resume sounds like you and is relevant to the work you seek. Personalize it each time you apply to a job. Quality over quantity is crucial to get a job you love with a company that will stick.