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How to write work experience that makes your resume stand out

How to write work experience that makes your resume stand out

Ben Temple
Ben TemplePublished on: December 8, 2016
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Writing an effective resume is a challenge. Recruiters read several resumes a day looking for most qualified candidates, and they want to spend as little time as possible reading yours. If you truly want to land an interview, it is your responsibility to impress them right away.

As any job seeker knows, this is no simple task. No matter how impressive your experience is, presenting your work history in a way that is compelling and draws the attention of recruiters can be difficult. How can you make your past roles, as described in your resume, leap off the page and capture the attention of those reading it?

Focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities.

For your resume to stand out, you need more than just an unremarkable list of the tasks that you were required to complete in each role. You need to showcase your accomplishments with positive, energetic language and concrete examples to illustrate your success.

For example, which of these sentences is more impressive?

"Kept customers happy."

Or

"Increased referral rates by 15% and maintained a customer satisfaction rate of over 95%."

The second, of course. The first is a simple statement of what you were required to do, the second is a compelling accomplishment statement with concrete examples backing it up.

In another example, the phrase “Promoted to senior account manager with full responsibility for the company’s #1 client.” is not as compelling as “Promoted to senior account manager to manage #1 client, growing the business from $3 million to $6 million in 2 years.” Detailed evidence of your success is much more compelling than basic statements of tasks.

As noted by Kristine Naldoza, Talent Management Consultant, “An effective accomplishment statement not only highlights the skills of a potential candidate but also describes how the task was completed and what the result/consequence was. It gives the recruiter or hiring manager a sense of how a future employee might carry out the responsibilities of the role that they are currently hiring for.” The language and detail of your descriptions are integral to the success of your resume or CV.

Even with this in mind, you may find it difficult to think of accomplishments, particularly any with measurable examples. The best way to go about this is to ask yourself questions like:

  • Did you make money for the company?
  • Did you increase market share?
  • Did you improve your ranking in comparison to other departments, branches, or competitors?
  • Did you suggest any ways to cut costs in your team, department, unit, branch, or company?

These questions should give you an idea of where to look for accomplishments and examples.

Once you have chosen your accomplishments, make sure that you use positive and proactive prose to maximize engagement. Keep your language energetic by using action words. Verbs like assessed, delivered, improved, and produced will show that you are productive and enthusiastic in your responsibilities. This is exactly the message you want to send to potential opportunities.

If you are interested in seeing more examples of questions to ask yourself and action words to use, as well as other great resume writing tips, check out our Resume Guide.

Don’t have a resume or CV yet? Get started with one of our easy to use templates.

Ben Temple

Ben Temple

Ben is a writer and customer support specialist with 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume and the power of coffee.

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