Career Advice

Getting Your Resume Noticed: "Say This, Not That"

Are you telling prospective employers what you think they want to hear? Or, are you giving them the facts?

As human beings, and especially human beings trying to land a job, we all tend to err on the side of saying what we believe will give us the best chance for success. (Watch any election debate if you don’t believe me.)

While I would never suggest lying on your resume, here is a little game called, “Say This, Not That,” to help you get a leg-up while keeping the facts of your career history intact.

Say This: Accomplished relocations slated to cost $12M and 6 months of effort within 3 months with $900K in expenses.

Not That: Accomplished relocations slated to cost twelve million dollars and six months of effort with nine hundred thousand dollars in expenses.

Looking at the two sentences above, it’s easy to see how using numbers instead of spelling them out adds impact to the accomplishment instead of having it hidden in the text.

Say This: Added $100K to the bottom line by developing relationships with new accounts through a consultative sales approach and resuscitating dead accounts.

Not That: Responsible for developing relationships with new accounts using a consultative sales plan and bringing dead accounts back to life.

Phrases such as “responsible for” are considered redundant at best and elementary at worst. The reader isn’t as concerned about what you were “responsible for” as they are about the actions you took and the accomplishments those actions produced.

Say This: Invigorated struggling department being undermined by outdated systems and employee absenteeism, boosting productivity by 50%.

Not That: Took control of ailing department left in shambles by predecessor’s mismanagement, decreasing employee absenteeism and increasing employee morale.

Criticizing former management makes you look “petty.” Guard yourself against that perception by highlighting the hurdles you surmounted without demonizing those you replaced.

Say This: Recruited improved level of sales professional and firmly established sales quota mind-set.

Not That: Cleaned house of dead weight sales people and introduced quotas to keep sales numbers high.

Again, the second sentence is only serving to criticize personnel for poor performance instead of sharing what actions you took to improve the performance of the sales department.

Say This: Developed network of key contacts with developers, lenders, brokers, builders, contractors and more, helping pave way for new business channel that ultimately generated one-half of divisional revenue.

Not That: I know everyone in this business and everyone knows me.

While the second sentence may very well be true, it lacks polish and specifics. And the fact that people in the business may know you doesn’t necessarily make them a “key” contact.

So, there you have it. Just a smattering of things to be aware of when developing a career resume document or social media profile that will most likely be your first chance to make an impression on the company in which you want to secure a position. If not executed properly, it could be the last chance you have to make an impression, as well.

While these examples may not fit your specific goals or industry, they do provide you with the fodder that could mean the difference in making it to the short-list or being tossed back into the job search sea.