Value: the time-tested resume differentiator

When I think about the resumes in general that cross my desk month to month, they more often than not are easily categorized: They either create excitement or they don’t.

In thinking more about this, if I had to pick one element that is behind this excitement, regardless of industry or occupational level, it is the presence of a clear, convincing picture of value.

Stated another way, job seekers with winning resumes often succeed because they make an effort to carefully articulate how they made a difference or created value for their employers. Conversely, there are many good people knocking themselves out in trying to land a job but unfortunately are “under selling” themselves by failing to fully present their value, or even a reasonably close picture of it.

While this sounds like a difficult challenge to overcome, it doesn’t have to be. The good news is that there are some basic steps that job seekers or career professionals can take to increase the value shown in their resumes and as a result their attractiveness to employers. Here are just a few:

Summary. Many people fail to include a summary or profile paragraph at the top of their resumes. This is a mistake and a lost opportunity. A resume summary is your chance to define your career direction and to put your experience into context by focusing on your key strengths, especially those that align with a particular position’s requirements. What’s more, it is a chance to quickly and succinctly show why you are a qualified and relevant candidate. Busy hiring managers and recruiters will especially appreciate this and you will score points with them as a result.

Job descriptions. For any employment experience on your resume, you will want to carefully evaluate those where you were hired to undertake a specific challenge or opportunity and to briefly describe the challenge. Then, in this same paragraph or in the bullet points that follow for each particular job, you can detail the individual actions or outcomes that show how you met this challenge, as well as noting any additional positive outcomes or successes. As an example of this, here are two different approaches; the first is for client who held a franchise development consultant position and the second for a client who worked as a director of client strategy for a media company:

First example: Started the company’s franchise business from scratch; key actions included securing operating approval in more than 40 states, selling franchises, evaluating potential franchisees, and providing training following franchisee approval. Led a team of four staff members and reported to the president.

Second example: Selected to direct a team of client strategy managers in 25 markets across six states with a focus on delivering personalized, strategic marketing solutions for the company’s largest accounts. Led a team of 25 staff members with additional areas of responsibility that included customer and vendor relationships, B2B marketing, project management, analytics and creative staff direction. 

What these approaches have in common is that the particular job challenge is quickly presented and then is followed by some brief information that fleshes out and supports it. 

Positive outcomes or accomplishments. Regarding possible positive outcomes that you might consider noting as bullet points for a particular job, here are just a few general examples that job seekers and career professionals sometimes overlook:

* Being selected to go through a training program to help elevate team or organization improvement.

* Serving (either officially or unofficially) as a team or organization “go to person” as a result of having accumulated extensive job and industry knowledge.

* Being tabbed to organize and lead a cross-departmental initiative.

* Succeeding in finding ways to re-engineer outmoded or inefficient processes and procedures.

* Being chosen to provide leadership in a backup role during management absences.

If you feel your resume is not making the presentation of value that it should, I would recommend giving some thought to the approaches noted above to see if possibly you are overlooking some value points that could be added to strengthen your resume. Even if you end up adding just a few additional items, these could be enough to get you a call for an interview and possibly a job offer. Like many things in the world, the resume field has had its share of practices that have come and gone but showing value is the one essential that has never changed.