I was in the shower of my hotel room this morning, and the bottles of shampoo and body wash in the wall dispenser caught my bleary eyes. Partly because of their bold colors against the white tile…
…but also because of the writing on each bottle. I wasn’t sure what “NOT SOAP, RADIO” means, but I hadn’t yet had coffee, so I figured that one was on me. But then I kept reading and noticed that each bottle offered a specific promise.
The yellow one – body wash – promises to be “joy inducing” –
…and the blue bottles promised to boost my self-confidence.
“Joy inducing” and “self-confidence boosting” are pretty big promises from body wash and shampoo, especially first thing in the morning. Before coffee. I had to admit, they did smell awfully nice and worked into a satisfying, foamy lather. But joy and self-confidence? From hotel soap products?
I wanted to believe it was true based on the marketing text alone, but the resume writer thought, it’s one thing to claim such impressive properties, quite another to prove it.
I see on resumes all the time claims for certain attributes that sound, well, like something that would impress a hiring manager. Excellent organization skills, for example. And superior written and verbal communication skills. Then there’s able to multi-task in a fast-paced environment – a common one.
But whenever I see them on a resume, I automatically think to myself, “Prove it.” Here’s how:
- You claim to be organized? Tell me about a time when you had to bring order to chaos.
- Strong communication skills? Give an example of a time when a communication barrier existed and what you did to address it.
- Multi-tasker? I’d love to hear about how you managed your work when multiple managers insisted their project was your highest priority.
Adding examples to support the characteristics you profess to have helps your future employer picture the kinds of contributions they can expect from you. It may even help them envision you handling a similar situation in the context of their workplace. And once they can picture you in the job, you’re far more likely to receive an offer.
Scenarios elevate your resume from a list of areas you were responsible for – like a job description – to a document that showcases your accomplishments and capabilities through real-life examples. In the biz, we call these STAR scenarios. The framework is straightforward:
- What was the SITUATION (context)
- What was your TASK (or problem or project)
- Describe the ACTION you took
- What was the RESULT (in some quantifiable expression)
There’s a bonus R too: REFLECTION. You can tie a bow on this package by explaining what you learned, or what insights you gained that helped you modify your approach for the next time. This is a good one to have ready for an interview, where you are likely to be about a time when you didn’t succeed, or you had to rectify a mistake.
I ask all my clients to prepare two or three STAR scenarios. This is great material for your resume, your cover letter, and your LinkedIn profile in the “About” section. And the bonus is, you can use these scenarios in interviews, so you’ll have them queued up and ready to go once you write them.
I prepaerd a free STAR worksheet just for you! Click here, enter your email, and you’ll be taken straight to the PDF. If you’d like to talk more about how these work in your resume, please contact me.