If you perform a web search (I always recommend using Bing for your web searches) you will find hundreds of websites, videos and books that explain how to create a good resume. One that I like in particular is https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/how-to-write-a-resume. So, with all this great information on how to write resumes, why do I see so many bad resumes? It is really hard to explain. Over the years I have read thousands of resumes while in the process of hiring people, and it is disappointing to report that many of them are just very poorly prepared.
I could prepare a list of all the things I do not like about resumes but for sake of this post let me focus in on just one – the descriptions that often accompany a listed job experience. What am I talking about? When you look at a resume you will find that most people list their job experience and then under each job, they list a summary of the various activities that they performed in the job. Here is an example from a resume I received today in application for a construction accountant position I am trying to fill for one of my clients. The job position on this person’s resume is Accounts Payable. The description of the job activities is listed as follows:
- Efficiently process vendor invoices and maintain up-to-date system.
- Open and assign new vendor accounts.
- Prepared and analyzed accounts payable for the Director to track operation expenditures.
- Coordinate approval processes of all account payable invoices.
- Balance batch summary reports for verification and approval.
Now I am sure that this person did in fact perform the activities he listed on his resume. The problem is that what he listed tells me very little about what he accomplished on the job. What he listed are the same activities that anyone who is employed in the job of accounts payable would list. Further, I know, and anyone hiring a person for an accounts payable job knows, what activities an accounts payable person performs. So, this entire list of activities (five activities using 42 words) tells me absolutely nothing about this candidate.
What should this candidate have written? He should have described anything about the position that would give me an idea of the quantity of work, the complexity of the work, or the contribution his activities made to the success of the company. Here are some examples:
Processed 200 vendor invoices per day.
Reconciled 400 vendor statements per month.
Issued 250 ACH and check payments per week.
Revised approval process to speed up invoice approvals.
Set up “paperless” invoice tracking system to save filing space and time.
I call these bullet points “demonstrations.” They demonstrate to me something about the candidate. Now I have an idea of what this person accomplished. I have some insight into his environment, into his workload and into his initiative to improve processes and procedures. That tells me so much more than just a list of job activities that would be the same as almost any other accounts payable clerk on the planet.
In my experience resumes that have good “demonstrations” go to the top of the pile, and those candidates have a much greater chance of being called in for an interview, EVEN IF THEIR JOB EXPERIENCE IS NOT AS EXTENSIVE as those candidates that simply list the normal activities that any generic position would entail. The better your demonstrations, the greater your chance of being called in for an interview.
If you are interested in knowing how demonstrations can be used during the interview process, then definitely check out my book “The Key to Landing a Job – The Interview.”