If you’re an experienced professional, chances are you’ve got the basics covered in your resume. Quantifiable results. Check. Page length is limited to two or three pages. Check. Keywords from the job description are included in your resume. Check.
But with a majority of job seekers all using the same resume template and text to list their responsibilities and successes, you may be missing some key information that can set you apart from the competition.
I’m a job hunting coach and corporate recruiter and below are the two biggest mistakes I see when reviewing and editing corporate professionals’ resumes. With the average hiring manager spending no more than six or seven seconds reviewing a resume, you need to include this background information to effectively demonstrate you know how to contribute to or lead employer growth and performance.
Mistake 1: Not Providing Employer Context
What was your employer going through during your time there? Was your employer going through massive growth in funding or staffing, a merger or acquisition, or layoffs? You may already have these in your resume if you spearheaded initiatives related to these changes, but if your role wasn’t directly involved in these changes, then you may think they aren’t necessary to include. Wrong.
Employers want to know that you have experience working in different company growth phases or have worked in a variety of challenging environments to gain a clear picture of your experience. Here are a few examples:
Before: Senior Software Engineer for a recruiting software company that grew 20% in FY22.
Revised: Senior Software Engineer for a fast-growing recruiting software company that grew 20% and received series C funding in FY22.
The “series C funding” text is important in this example so that companies know you have experience working with a company in a more advanced scaling stage. They may want to consider software engineers that have worked for start-up companies at this growth stage rather than series A or B funding or those with large publicly-traded companies.
Here’s another context example related to results for a manufacturing company:
Before: Developed SOPs that reduced manufacturing time for semiconductor chip from 4 months to 3.75 months resulting in increased production of 12% in FY21.
Revised: Developed SOPs that reduced manufacturing time for semiconductor chip from 4 months to 3.75 months (industry average is 4.25 months) resulting in increased production of 12% in FY21.
If you’re applying to a manufacturing job that doesn’t work with chips, then the reduction in production time may not be relevant to the recruiter or hiring manager reviewing your resume. Spell it out as plainly as possible why that is such a significant achievement for your industry or role.
Mistake 2: Not Connecting Individual Performance to Overall Company Performance
How do your individual results contribute to the performance or results of your department, division or company? This one may not be as obvious for individual contributors whose roles are not directly tied to the financial targets of a company, but it’s important for you to demonstrate you know how your role contributes to the overall performance of your company.
Here’s an example with an individual contributor working in IT:
Before: Led IT training for ~200 employees across various departments (HR, finance, accounting, business investment, and program delivery) for the state tourism board.
Revised: Led IT training for all new employees (in-office and remote) for the third-largest tourism board in the U.S. that doubled in size over a three-year period (from 200 to 400 employees) and generated a 10% increase in tourism dollars from FY18 to FY19.
This revised text demonstrates the individual worked for a fast-growing organization and has an understanding of the importance of onboarding new staff quickly. The faster new staff are trained-up on IT functions, the faster they become productive in their new role and the greater the impact on overall company performance.
You may need to do some additional research to find the relevant department or corporate-level metrics and success stories relevant to your role, but once you have this information it should only take you 15 minutes to make these updates to your resume.
Now get to revising your resume and landing more interviews!
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