How to write a great resume and get yourself hired
I used to work for one of the big tech companies in Silicon Valley.
I also used to interview people for some of the consulting jobs and would then give my input to the hiring managers.
One day I interviewed a lady named Donna. I would have hired her on the spot based on her resume. When the hiring manager saw her resume, and that I said I thought she was a good fit, he did make her an offer on the spot.
So what was so special about Donna? Why was her resume so different than everybody else’s?
Keep that thought… I’ll answer those questions in a minute.
But first… think to yourself: What do companies really want? Seriously. What do companies REALLY want?
If you are a programmer, you probably think they want someone who knows tons of programming languages and can program out the wazoo.
If you are a communications major you probably think a company wants someone who can show them cool ways to communicate with the public.
If you are a lawyer you probably think they want someone who knows the law inside and out.
You’re only partly right.
Of course they want someone who will be good at their profession.
But that’s not why they’ll hire you.
That’s not what they REALLY, REALLY want.
Take a look at these two resumes from a fictional character who has a degree in Communications and has recently graduated from college with a BA degree.
After reading through both of them, who would you hire?
So Who Would YOU Hire?
You would hire Joe Schmoe #2, that’s who.
Now I’ll bet some of you think that its only because the resume is longer and has a little bit more detail.
That’s not the reason.
Remember my question above… “What do companies REALLY, REALLY want?”
They want someone who will make them money.
How do you make them money?
You either help them bring in more revenue or you help them lower their costs.
If you can show them that you do that, they will hire you.
That is also how you differentiate yourself from EVERYBODY else out there.
Job counselors tell you that you need to make your resume stand out… as if you did that by choosing cool fonts or a colored background for your resume.
You stand out by showing them HOW you can save them money or help them make it.
That is what Donna did. Its the ONLY time I have ever seen anyone do this on a resume.
Let’s take a closer look to see why Joe Schmoe #2 will get the job:
There is a ‘Goals’ section… not too long, but just long enough to let the hiring manager know that you are aware that the company needs to make money.
Companies like it when employees work together as a team. You should convey this and also that fact that you can work solo too. Point out the positive aspects of both.
If you can point out actual statistics of how you increase X, thats great and make sure you put that in your resume. If you have no numbers to back it up, then say something like ‘we were able to increase followers from month to month’ (or something like that).
Show how you were able to improve things by:
- Increased efficiency
- decreased time to accomplish something
- decreased cost of something
- direct cost savings
Use words like: more, better, increased, reduced (negative things), learned, taught, displayed, achieved, created, presented, greater
Always, always, always show how you helped to lower costs AND how you did it. Also, don’t forget to show the reason costs got lowered (i.e. eliminate the need to hire a new employee).
Use words that indirectly prove cost savings or increased revenue.
In addition to the words from #4 above, try: quickly, conserved, expertly, efficiently, etc… these words all imply a TIME savings… and we all know that time is money.
Show that you are willing to learn the employer’s systems. CRM (customer relationship management) software is very important to many companies.
My example is CRM software, but ANY software that has a business application is worth putting on your resume.
If you can demonstrate that you are willing to not only learn how to use it, but UNDERSTAND what its for, that will differentiate you from the crowd.
Also, notice that I restated how I understood the importance of what the software does… “Client follow up was never missed” and how I understand that its important to ME to preserve existing clients.
I hear a lot from potential job seekers that they don’t have any experience or that their experience isn’t relevant. UNTRUE!! Any experience is relevant in some way. It’s all how you frame it. Of course restaurant/gym/salon/janitor/etc… work is different from the chemistry job you are applying for, but you can frame it where you emphasize the things both jobs would have in common.
For example, the chemistry job you are applying for has CLIENTS, REVENUE, COSTS, GOALS, DEADLINES, CO-WORKERS, TRAINING, SOFTWARE, COLLECTIONS, PAYABLES, ACCOUNTING… I could go on.
Every business in the world has the above things. Every. Single. One.
These are what you emphasize when all your experience is in a seemingly unrelated field.
ANY time you are able to show how you saved money or increased revenue… absolutely show it on your resume.
Yes… its better if you have statistics… i.e. “I was able to increase money collected from past due accounts by 23%” or ” I helped implement an idea that ended up saving our company approximately $150,000 annually.” But like I said earlier.. if you do not have statistics, then frame it in such a way that you still emphasize that there was a reduction of cost or an increase in revenue.
Put all the skills that you have. Notice that I write this in a ‘personal’ way. It makes it easy to read and I expand on the skill itself to show how it can benefit my potential employer.
Show how you are able to relate to management in a positive way, where you can bring something to the table that will make THEM look good. If you made your prior boss look good, then a new boss will DEFINITELY want you.
Again…make sure you convey ANY and ALL times you were able to:
- increase efficiency
- reduce waste
- lower cost
- make money
- save time
You will make yourself irresistible to a hiring manager.
Remember… it’s all about the employer. Show how you can help THEM.
So… what are the take-aways from this?
- I didn’t mention this before but this is absolutely the MOST important thing of all. TELL THE TRUTH. Do NOT make up stuff just so your resume looks good. You will be found out and it won’t be pretty.
- Even if you have no relevant experience for the job you want, a business is a business. So if you work in a restaurant, but want a job in an office, think of all the ways you helped the restaurant AS A BUSINESS. If you are still working at the restaurant and haven’t done anything.. then be observant now. Start now to see the restaurant as a business and what you can do to improve it. Make sure you tell your boss at the restaurant that you are thinking of how to help so that they become aware… if the potential employer calls them, you want them to say ‘Oh yes, XXXX was a great employee who actually made us more money’ or ‘was able to cut our costs.’
- I realize that some of you will think I’m crazy and that this might apply to someone who has no skills or experience. But if you are the world’s best welder, you won’t need this advice. If you’re the world’s best welder, I congratulate you. But when you are looking for a job and your resume needs to get you in the door… even YOU need to differentiate yourself from every other welder who’s applying for the same job. If you can show how you weld faster and better than every other welder, thereby reducing costs and getting products to market faster… You’ll get the job. No other welder will have that on their resume.
- Put enough detail on the resume to make sure the hiring manager knows what you did. A two or three word phrase or job title just isn’t enough.
- Make it a little bit personal (but not too much). If a company gets 500 resumes for a job and they all read like a technical white paper, a personal resume that’s easy to read will be noticeable.
- Your goal is to get your resume into the hands of a hiring manager. But normally, what happens when you submit your resume is it goes to HR, who will sift through them (electronically) looking for keywords the manager is looking for. You need to put the appropriate keywords on your resume just to be found. Learn what they are and then include them in your descriptions, job titles, etc…
- One more thing. Does it seem like I repeated myself several times by talking about saving money or reducing costs vs your actual skill or degree? I know. I did it on purpose. That is what will get an employer to notice you. Your degree or skill is important, but the employer automatically makes the assumption you’re knowledgeable in your field. If you can show how you can apply your skill or degree to making them money, they will love you.
For instance… if experience in Microsoft Excel is a keyword, then say ‘I was able to create pivot tables in Microsoft Excel to help analyze the amount of receivables still needing collections…’ , and also in your list of software you say ‘Experienced in Microsoft Excel’. You get the idea.
One last thing: Both these resumes are fake. I made them up simply as an example. If there actually is a Joe Schmoe who graduated from UTA with a degree in Communications in 2019, then its purely by coincidence. And if there is… then Joe, let us know how your resume is!