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Don’t tell me – show me

Have you ever wondered what recruiters are thinking when they read your resume? I’m going to tell you a secret: As they scan your resume, they’re looking for one thing:


That’s really what it boils down to. If your resume says that you’ve got leadership, communication and time management skills and are an effective communicator and team player, the recruiter will want to see proof that these are more than just words you put on there because you thought they would want to see them. It’s important to support your claims. For example:

  • Tell me about a time when you were required to communicate in a challenging situation, and what happened when you did.
  • Describe a situation where you used your mad time management skills to manage competing priorities, and what was the outcome.
  • Support your assertion that you’re “detail-oriented” by telling me what kinds of work products you created that required attention to detail and how your success was measured.

Don’t tell me – show me.

Lesser resumes present like a glorified job description. They lack substance. You were responsible for this, you oversaw that, you ensured such-and-such. But what did you actually do? A list of responsibilities does help the recruiter understand the scope and nature of your job, but it doesn’t provide any context. How did your company benefit from your having been responsible for those things? What impact did you make?

If you want your resume to end up on the “yes” stack, you would do well to start thinking in terms of what you accomplished, not what you were responsible for. Your resume will be more persuasive if it includes several notable accomplishments. One way to frame them is in what’s called a PAR statement – Problem, Action, Result. If you can quantify the result or otherwise measure your impact, you get all the bonus points.

And guess what? Writing PAR statements is excellent practice for interviewing! If you are asked a question that starts with, “Tell me about a time when…” you will be ready to confidently respond with a professional anecdote that demonstrates the situation, how you responded, and what happened as a result.

You are so much more than just your job description. You are a unique person who has worked for and with other people, and in the course of doing that work, you have made a difference. Spend some time thinking about your contributions so that you can showcase them on your resume and share your compelling, one-of-a-kind story in interviews.

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