Simply listing out your jobs on your resume is not enough. If you want to land an interview, learn how to use stronger language with resume action statements.
By: Sarah K. Schaffer | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
So you broke a sweat just trying to remember where in the world you used to work and what it was you used to do. But, ultimately, you wrote it all down and you’re totally done, right?
One of the biggest resume myths out there is that simply recounting your experience will be enough to snag that interview. But, as we like to say, your resume is not a book report, it’s a sales pitch!
Keep it brief – “I wish the ad interrupting this cat video were a little longer,” said no one ever.
Every word matters – Use resume action statements to keep that recruiter from clicking “Skip.”
Results, not responsibilities – How many commercials advertise sports cars hauling groceries? Prove your value with a focus on accomplishments rather than daily duties.
If you revamp your resume with these principles for resume action statements in mind, recruiters will be clamoring for an interview. Now let’s zoom in on the building blocks of your resume – bullet points.
RESUME ACTION STATEMENTS: BULLETS THAT BITE BACK
Take a look at the bullets you’ve listed for each position under your work experience. One way to pack some punch into that pitch is to start every bullet point with an active verb – an action word.
This will help make your resume consistent, specific, and, most of all, dynamic.
So instead of a bullet point that reads:
☒ Responsible for coordinating supply deliveries
☒ Team lead responsible for coordinating supply deliveries
☒ Duties included coordinating supply deliveries
… or any variation of:
☒ Supplies… 🤷
… go with:
☑ Coordinated supply deliveries
Lead with a verb to emphasize the action you took. Even better, say what that action achieved.
☑ Coordinated with suppliers, consistently negotiating shorter timelines for delivery
This is how you turn a dull list of responsibilities into a record of achievements.
Rather than just confirming what people can already tell from your position title, consider all of the challenges you overcame, the ways you optimized how things were done, and the measurable results you contributed to.
And for those of you whose achievements simply won’t fit into a neat list, consider throwing paragraphs in the mix for context to showcase how you’ve gone above and beyond.
DID YOU DO THE JOB, OR DID THE JOB DO YOU?
As the star of your resume, it’s important to cast yourself in an active, not passive, role.
Would you rather be someone who was assigned to 17 residential construction projects, or someone who rehabilitated, engineered, or constructed 17 residential buildings?
Someone who assisted with security protocol or developed, implemented, or managed security protocol?
Who took part in training staff or conducted, delivered, or presented staff trainings?
There’s a big difference between the version of you who is doing the dang thing and the version of you who might just be bringing people coffee, especially in the eyes of a recruiter making a split-second decision about whether to offer you an interview.
Luckily, a little attention to phrasing can put you in the driver’s seat (as opposed to hanging out the passenger side of your best friend’s ride, so to speak).
Still, perhaps you’re thinking, “What have I done to deserve bombarding my resume with so many different verbs?” Well…
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF… WINNING RESUMES
Listen, we’ve read a LOT of resumes in our day (have we seen yours yet, by the way?), and way too many sound like this:
· Managed team of 7 developers
· Managed new user orientations
· Managed intranet requirements
Great stuff for your mumble rap career. Not so great for your resume.
For one, your recruiter can’t email you if they’re asleep. Vary your verbs to keep the reader from zoning out. If more than 2 or 3 of your bullets kick off with the same verb, find some alternative resume power words to swap in.
You also don’t want to be mistaken for a one-trick pony. Relying on just a few verbs can give the impression that you have a limited skillset.
Even if you’ve worked a string of jobs with almost identical duties, you can paint a more varied picture. Consider using each respective position to emphasize a different aspect of the work and highlight anything unique, like specialized software or equipment you used.
Alright! I can tell from your checkered suit that you’re finally ready to sell your experience with resume action statements, instead of merely reciting it for the class. You’re off to a great start, and when you’re ready to go deeper down the rabbit hole, there’s even more to learn about landing a job on our blog and podcast.
And if you’re still feeling like you could use more help on your resume, schedule a free call with us to find out how our professional writers can rework your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to land you that dream job.