I have seen thousands upon thousands of resumes, and by far, the most critical feedback that I give my clients is that the material is disorganized. Typically, the problem is this: general responsibilities are mixed in with achievements and achievements are mixed in with general responsibilities. As a reader, I find it difficult to understand, in plain English, exactly what people do, when the context of their job is a mishmash of facts, figures, general statements and superfluous data. A quick way to clean up your resume is to separate out responsibilities and achievements into a summary paragraph and then use bullet points to highlight your top three or four accomplishments. Consider including the following as part of communicating information about you, your company and your achievements.
What does your company do?
Not every company out there has the brand recognition of, say, Coca-Cola or General Electric. If you work for a smaller, lesser known company, consider providing a short (one line) description of the company. This short descriptor can serve as a great way to provide the reader with a clear understanding of the industry in which you work.
What are your primary responsibilities?
Essentially, what do you do on a day-to-day basis? Aim to write clear and cogent statements that provide the reader a quick understanding of the daily responsibilities. Include budgets managed (if appropriate), as well as number of staff. Two to three lines of your daily work will provide the reader with an overall picture of your work.
Consider the SAR method to showcase your achievements
The SAR method is simple. S: What was the situation? A: What action did you take? R: What result did you achieve? If you write with the SAR method in mind, you will be successful at conveying a valuable message that delivers true value. To the extent that you can quantify the results, do so. Qualitative impact for non-revenue generating professionals is also critical to the success of an operation on many levels.
If you make just one fix to your resume I highly recommend considering adding significant accomplishments. This information will add credibility to your background and allow you to quickly demonstrate value.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.