If I had a dollar for every job seeker who has told me “I can’t add any measurements to my resume” or “I don’t have any special achievements to mention” – I’d have a nice pile of cash!  Every, single one of these individuals was wrong.

Everyone has plenty to share and everyone has created some form of achievement in their jobs. It’s just a matter of identifying the right content.

A modern resume needs to be loaded with value, answering every employer’s primary question of “why should I hire you over someone else?”.  This means resume content should be heavily focused on specifics and results, not basic job duties. You have to provide proof of the skills and capabilities you claim to possess.  

Regardless of role, industry, or career length you have value and you’ve excelled at something. So how do you unearth strong content for your resume?

To start, one must know thyself.

This may sound implied, but it often isn’t. A good many of my clients know their work and their jobs really well, but they lack awareness of personal skill sets and unique strengths. Deep analysis and careful pondering are required to identify what sets each person apart.

Questions I use to prompt clients on personal strengths include:

  • What distinguishes you from another applicant with the same experience?
  • What are five characteristics that best describe you when you are at work?
  • What is the biggest return on investment that an employer will get from you?
  • What have you consistently achieved during your career? What are you best known for?

These questions can help you identify the message you want to get across in your resume. A value proposition (who you are and what you are excellent at) should be formed and then supported throughout the file.

Next,  conduct a deep dive into past positions to identify examples that support your value.

Ask and answer the following career exploration questions:

  • What initiatives have you developed and implemented that helped your company increase revenue, profitability, or return on investment?
  • Did you generate new business, bring in new clients, or forge profitable affiliations?
  • Did you save your company money or increase your company’s competitive edge?
  • Have you increased safety, performance levels, productivity, or customer satisfaction?
  • What was the largest team, budget, or project value you managed?

From these questions, essentials form and strong statements take shape. To pump up the value even more, I urge the inclusion of supporting metrics. Can you address “how many, how much, how often”? to improve resume details!?

I understand that not all results are numbers based. Some job seekers feel frustrated because they can’t measure results with hard figures, percentages, or dollar amounts. This is ok.

Consider ways that your work was valuable and share results in a generalized way. Perhaps  outcomes were ‘improvements’, ‘increases’, ‘best’, ‘time-savings’, or ‘top’.

For less number-focused results, consider these additional exploration questions:

  • How do you coach, motivate and develop a winning team and develop loyalty in your staff? Have people you mentored gone on to do well?
  • How would you describe your leadership style? What was the greatest achievement of a team that you directed?
  • Have you won awards or received special recognition by superiors, peers, or customers?
  • Did you get promoted in record time?
  • Have you assumed additional responsibilities or willingly assumed tasks outside your job description?
  • Have you worked internationally, across multiple industries, or within highly recognizable organizations (Fortune 500)?
  • Did you complete specialized training or education?
  • Did you complete projects on time and within budget? How consistently?

Now, form value-enhanced statements from your answers.

Make sure each statement in your resume demonstrates specifics, even if there are no numbers or hard results attached to it.

You might be surprised that you can measure results more than originally thought, and if you can’t make a note to start capturing these quantitative details on a more regular basis for future resume development.

To demonstrate the difference between basic statements and value-enhanced statements (often with quantifiable details) compare the following:

Chart courtesy of Career Impressions

The valued-enhanced statements above leave fewer questions unanswered and provide greater impact.

Lastly, ensure resume content (and results) focus exclusively on details and skills that relate to the targeted job posting.  For example, if you are targeting a sales job, but have loads of experience and achievements as a mechanic, don’t fill the resume with trade-specific content.

Be strategic with what you include in your resume. Only your best and most related examples and achievements need to be shared in each application.