While giving a résumé preparation class recently to a very bright group of job seekers, I had a mini epiphany. Let me share it.
I noticed that when preparing their résumés, most people have trouble coming up with measurable, specific examples of their past achievements. Too many résumés look exactly like job descriptions and contain mediocre phrases such as,
- "Displays excellent communication skills" and
- "Utilizes project management tools" or
- "Demonstrates leadership skills"
Since these words don't tell me anything about a person's skill set, how are they going to make an impact to the hiring manager?
It dawned on me to relate creating résumé statements to that of goal setting. I asked the group how many of them participated in annual goal setting at their former companies. The majority had.
Then I asked them how they went about it and most of them followed the SMART acronym:
We then took this and applied it to creating résumé statements.
We decided that we didn't really need the A and the R.
But we certainly did need the S, M and T.
So what does SMT look like in your résumé prep?
Specific: Make your résumé impactful by being specific.
What did you do that made an impression? Let's say that you once managed a large domestic operating unit. Don't just say that. Replace it with, "Managed $24MM US budget with influence on $43M North American unit expenditures with emphasis on improving total cost of ownership. 2010 accumulated cost savings of $1.1 M and projected 2011 savings of $584K" -- very smart. This has much more of an effect.
Measurable: How were you acknowledged?
For example, did your excellent customer service skills save time or money? In other words, what did your excellent skills result in? Here’s an example: "Plan and schedule weekly shift work, conduct monthly quality control calls and correct service problems to ensure clients are satisfied with support and services resulting in a consistent completion rate of 98%." This is so much stronger and smarter than say, “Excellent customer service skills.”
Timely: Were you consistently ahead?
Regarding projected schedules, did you continually achieve your target? Did something that you designed, developed or implemented save time for you, your organization or customer? An example is," Developed process validation and operating procedures for a start-up pharmaceutical production facility ahead of scheduled implementation date resulting in a 20% increase in operating revenue.”
With this SMT formula, now can you see the difference?
Think about goal setting when you create your resume statements by asking yourself these three questions:
1. What did I accomplish?
2. What did this result in?
3. Why was this accomplishment meaningful, to the client, the organization or others?
In closing, I hope you found this post helpful. Remember the SMT formula in your résumé preparation. Don’t let your résumé like just another BO-ring job description!
If you do, your résumé – and you -- may be passed over.