A resume alone will never help you get hired. It has to be relevant and compelling enough to get your foot in the door. Having reviewed thousands of resumes myself, I've found that most of them read like a cross between an obituary and a museum exhibit timeline.
First, let's debunk a couple of resume myths. Resumes are not read, at least not at first. They are scanned, scored and sorted. Second, a good resume is not critical to getting you hired. It is only critical in landing an interview. Third, the real purpose of a resume is to catch someone's eye. HR departments use resumes as a job-matching tool. They are trying to find a fit, and in this way they are solving a problem.
Most executives agree that you should never start with HR, so if you write your resume to match a job, then you're writing for the wrong audience. Here, then, are four tricks to get the people with hiring power to notice you:
State what problems you'll solve.
Executives are focused on solving challenges of time, money, and risk. When reviewing a resume, they want someone who's overcome challenges in at least one of these areas, if not all three.
Explain who you helped.
Many resumes include companies that are not household names so add a short explanation. "Top 10 international provider of heavy construction equipment components," for example, will give your performance some context.
Say what difference you made.
Here, I'm talking about specific measures you took to solve a problem. Did you increase work flow by 20 percent, decrease waste per manufactured part by six percent, or triple sales year over year? If so, be specific and compare your performance with that of your peers.
Show how your experience prepared you.
Your work history is cumulative, leading you on a path to greater opportunities. If you don't say what you are ready to do next and how, then you'll leave the conjecture to the reader, who is at best barely paying attention.
So what does all this mean? Let's review: Write for a decision-maker using the tips outlined above, putting your experience in the context of problems that you can solve. Second, strip the job-matching language and focus on achievements instead. Finally, aim to get an interview with the resume, because, after all, it won't win you a job.