In my coaching practice, I review lots of resumes. Along with a LinkedIn profile it’s the baseline job search tool that sells your strengths. But almost every time—whether the resume belongs to a young woman right out of college or a senior exec—it’s lacking the proof that efforts led to measurable success.
When you’re looking for a flexible job it’s even more important that your resume very clearly states your key areas of expertise and concise examples of how your work knocked it out of the park. When employers consider candidates for part-time or freelance work, for example, they’re not as interested in generalists. They’re looking for specialists who can manage specific responsibilities with precision—without the distractions that are often fluffing up full-time jobs.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your key competencies (not 57 bullet points in a section that’s a laundry list of every skill you ever used), make sure your resume is enthusiastically telling readers these two things:
1. The size and scope of your responsibilities. Here’s an example: a corporate Communications Director wrote on her resume that she’s responsible for internal and external communications, including employee benefit alerts, client newsletters and social media. Sounds like she has a good job, but this really tells me very little about the breadth of her responsibilities.
Here are some of the things I want to know:
- Who does she report to (the title) and does she manage a team?
- Is she managing a budget and if so, what’s the size?
- Does she manage just one aspect of the communications process or many different functions (graphic design, website development, editorial, etc.)
- What are the key types and frequency of internal/external communications?
- What is the range of topics the communications are covering?
- What’s the size of the newsletters, for example. One page or ten?
- Is she in the trenches writing or just editing the work of others?
- What kind of social media is she managing and what is the size of each audience?
What you want your resume to convey is the “wow” factor. You want potential employers to think, “WOW, she must be capable because she was given many important responsibilities. Without the size and scope information a reader is left wondering, “Did she produce one newsletter a quarter or 15?”
2. The metrics that prove you were successful. We can all say anything on our resumes, but it just registers as “blah, blah, blah” until you wake someone up with impressive results. There is a way to quantify the results of any work—you just have to think about how you created positive change. An office manager might have streamlined purchasing and reduced the cost of office supplies by 20% over three months. An investment banker may have completed the integration of two big companies two months ahead of schedule. Always try to focus on time and money—two things employers want to save.
For that same Communications Director, here are the kind of metrics I want to know:
- Did she streamline communications covering more topics in fewer newsletters, reducing production costs by X%?
- Did she grow the size of a Facebook audience from X to Y in just six months?
- Did her employee benefits communications reduce the number of help line calls by 30% in three months?
- How did her client communications tools contribute to retention and cross selling of products and services?
- Did she develop a team of freelancers who offered as-needed services and avoided on-boarding a full-time, $75,000 editor?
- Did she oversee a $500,000 website redesign that resulted in 100,000 more hits a month?
As you write each line your resume, ask yourself two important questions: “Why is this responsibility a big deal?” and “How will potential employers know I wasn’t just working…I was working smart?” Even during a time of lower unemployment you’re still up against many very talented candidates who may do a better job of showcasing their success.