Regardless of what it is that you do, thousands of other people have the same type of job, and it’s likely that your responsibilities are pretty similar to everyone else’s. So how do you stand out? How do you make the case that you’re a great candidate for the hiring manager to interview? You need specific examples to differentiate your resume from everyone else with the same job description.
Most people focus their resumes on the functions and responsibilities they carried out during each job, but since those tend to be identical from one candidate to another, the ONLY way to stand out is to provide specific examples. This strategy works for three reasons. For one, each example is unique to you. Secondly, specific examples show potential employers what you’re capable of. And third, specificity speaks more to your credibility than does hyperbole.
Here’s something I see on resumes, and it drives me crazy: keywords without any context. When you insert an area on your resume filled with terms and phrases, it’s clearly meant to juice the keyword match for ATS purposes. What it doesn’t do is tell the (human) reader anything about those keywords.
Want to be smart? Use those keywords, but provide some context around them. And the way to do that is to provide specific examples that incorporate those keywords.
When I write a resume, I collaborate with each client to curate a bulleted list of 5 – 8 specific examples of their accomplishments and incorporate relevant keywords organically into each bullet. I call this section Career Highlights, and I position it second from the top on the page. (check out the resume samples on my website to see how it looks). The art of writing these bullets is not to overwhelm the reader with details without scrimping on the value added by each specific example.
Let’s see what this looks like IRL. This list of specific examples comes from a Customer Experience professional:
- Developed strategic customer success & training programs that increased adoption by ~30%, resulting in revenue growth ~15% y-o-y
- Created first customer success program that was adopted as post-sales support model throughout North America that consistently realized $500K in annual revenue
- Secured ~85% renewal rate y-o-y through new business & account renewals
- Increased customer satisfaction 15% by developing customer journey mapping strategies that led to retention & wide scale adoption
- Managed Cloud-based training curriculum to include more diversified training options, resulting in a 30% increase in customer satisfaction & accelerated technology adoption
- Conducted customer health checks that contributed to a ~75% retention rate y-o-y
- Secured $1.5M in new software business & $1M in professional services accounts with Fortune 500 companies that included Charles Schwab, The San Francisco Chronicle, AT&T & The Gap
Here’s another from a Technical Program Manager’s resume:
- Managed migration from legacy On Prem technology stack to AWS Cloud that involves identifying services to spinoff while maintaining computational scalability needed for processing & simultaneously managing other programs via cross-functional team pollination
- Achieved $200K annual reduction in licensing & annual consulting expense by managing migration of SSRS dependency to open source reporting service
- Led team in moving calculation engine into a microservice that enables scalability during high demand periods
- Saved $300K/year in operational expenses by migrating 6 legacy funds from external vendors to inhouse platform & enhancing functionality to address legacy fund requirements
- Developed Tableau dashboards that enable visualization of systems usage data relative to new enhancements
- Collaborated on development of Insource Workflow Manager system used by well-known CPA firms to track tax-related workflow
- Developed hedge fund reporting that enabled Asset Managers to monitor returns, allocation shifts, liquidity, risks & quarterly summaries
- Contributed to development of Windows version of Performance Oriented Packaging System used by U.S. Department of Defense to comply with HAZMAT packaging
- Mentored 5 direct reports, 2 of whom were promoted to more senior roles, as well as training college-age women in technical writing skills
To learn more about the art of resume writing, read my article on NBCnews.com
Need help curating a list of specific examples to differentiate YOUR resume? Read about my process and pricing, and let’s get started!