December 29, 2013

Writing Your Resume: Prove It or Lose It

Let's say you're at a party and you meet two people, we'll call them Bill and Ted, who both work in social media. You ask them to tell you more about their work. Bill says "I'm great with Twitter, I'm detail oriented, I really understand people, and I'm hard-working." Ted says "Well, let's see, I recently worked on a project where I created a scavenger hunt across company XYZ's social media pages. It got them 800 more Facebook likes, 2000 new Twitter followers, and $200,000 increased revenue from sales on their site in a month" So, who are you more likely to believe actually knows their stuff? Probably Ted right? So, what if you read two resumes that had those same descriptions- who do you think would get the job?
By Thomaseagle (Own work) [GFDL] or [CC-BY-3.0,] via Wikimedia Commons
Writing your resume is a bit like writing a paper (sounds weird I know, but bear with me). Often, when you write a paper you have a thesis that you are trying to prove and each paragraph will serve to further your point and show that it is accurate. You wouldn't do very well if you turned in a paper claiming that The Great Gatsby is the most influential American novel if your supporting points merely talked about how nice it was to read and how you felt about the movie. You need to demonstrate this by explaining and providing details that support your argument.

With your resume, you are trying to prove that you are a suitable candidate for the job or internship to which you are applying. So you can think of that as your thesis. Accordingly, everything you include on your resume should seek to further support this idea. You cannot sufficiently accomplish this goal by using adjectives like detail-oriented and opinion-based phrases like "good at public speaking." These don't belong on your resume. Instead, write about the time you won a competition by presenting your idea in front of 200 people. Don't just say you are detail-oriented, write about the new filing system you created at your internship. Don't say you are creative, write about the interesting marketing idea you came up with for the band you're working with. These examples prove your point in a far more compelling way. Don't waste precious space telling your potential employer things he won't believe. Convince him.

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