How do you know what to emphasize in your resume?

How do you know what to emphasize in your resume?

In early November, I taught a Career and Life Planning class at the local University of Wisconsin campus for an instructor that I have guest taught for many times at the University and at the Technical College she taught at previously. The class was made up of new students who were all freshmen.

It is hard to think about writing a resume when you are just starting college and barely know what you might want to do in life. The whole purpose of the class is to share strategies on career planning to help the students gain focus on the future.

I always teach very interactively and I know it is hard to be interactive early in the morning especially if you haven’t had enough coffee. The students responded when I asked them questions but they didn’t have many questions of their own.  The instructor was a big help since she asked questions throughout the session, including this one:

How do you know what to emphasize in your resume?

She expanded the question to say, how do you know what experience to emphasize in your resume and how many bullets to use?

Though I use an accomplishment section in the beginning of resumes, even those accomplishments are positioned as reverse chronological, meaning the new content is first and older content is later. In most people’s career, there is a progress as you move from job to job. Typically, your most recent jobs would have the most bullets because it is most current. The numbers of bullets decrease as you go backward in the resume.

How do you select what to write about in the bullets?

You need to find a way to make the content pop by writing your content to showcase your value. For example, often I front-end label the accomplishments in the accomplishment section with a key word created in a different font and sometimes even a different font color:

  • Rebranding Transformation – Spearheaded rebranding transformation from a well-known branded “flagged” hotel to unique independent hotels by incorporating new brand guidelines and website development, communicating new branding statement, updating messaging to media outlets, creating awareness, launching trials, and retaining existing customer loyalty.

Even when using a separate accomplishment section (Leadership Success Highlights or Selected Accomplishments & Results), you should still be using accomplishment-driven content in the resume’s experience sections. Sometimes I group bullets together in the career experience when a client has longevity in a role or we are trying emphasize particular points:

Employee Management & Coaching

  • Increased employee morale through providing raises, bonuses, and praise.
  • Launched new incentive-based program to allow employees to earn more commissions through developing mutually agreeable goals and earn rewards when goals were exceeded.
  • Coached and mentored employees using role-playing and conversation flow strategies, resulting in exceeding sales goals by 30%.

Emphasize in my resume At times to break the monotony of a resume when the second page has much content, I will inject a text box and label it Notable Achievement, Pivotal Success Story, or Project Highlight, such as in the box at the right:

Whatever strategy you use to bring out content or emphasize your value in your resume, be thoughtful as you select one that matches your career goals and the right move for the industry. The resume that included the text box on the right, successfully landed the construction management candidate an interview with Harvard as a Project Manager, a goal of the client for many years.

Julie Walraven is a triple-certified resume writer whose interactive coaching style helps job seekers earn winning positions when she creates tactical resumes and LinkedIn profiles to market you for success. Learn more here.

Photo Credit: Sebastien Wiertz

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