How to write the best résumé for 2020

By Marc Cenedella

To turn your résumé into a high score résumé, highlight your personal bests and top career achievements. From the top of your résumé down, focus on your next level: the job you want next, not the job you have now. And punctuate your story of how you made it this far by crafting each bullet point into an accomplishment with a success verb and a number. Entice potential interviewers by providing quantified, proven results that detail your successes.

Your high scores

High scores are very useful for understanding someone’s mastery of a game, a sport, or a skill. The person who can type 145 WPM has a built-in advertisement of their prowess with this statistic, and it attracts attention from people looking for that skill. Similarly, your résumé is an advertisement for your capabilities and should promote them by showing what you’ve been able to achieve in your job to date.

Whether it’s accounts won, servers maintained, leads gained, or warehouses managed, all of our activities in our professional careers can be quantified. By sharing your specific high scores rather than vague duties, you give your future boss the ability to understand how far you can run, how high you can jump, in your career.

When you start to think in high scores, you’ll banish boring phrases such as “seasoned executive,” “responsible for,” and “managed.” And you’ll recast your experiences to include the most exciting and impressive outcomes you’ve achieved in each area of your job. Share your high scores attained, achievements unlocked, and badges won to attract your future boss’s attention in 2020.

Your next job

The summary at the top of your résumé should be all about your next job, not your current one. Your war stories about achieving a new personal best in Tetris, tennis, or the triathlon don’t start with a boring recitation of the first time you played the game, so your professional summary shouldn’t summarize the old times. Focus instead on your next challenge.

If you’ve been a director of marketing for four years and are ready for a promotion, your professional headline should focus on your next role: “VP, brand marketing.” By declaring who you are going to be next, you’ll be appealing to bosses in the market for a VP. Spending this precious space on your current level is a missed opportunity. After all, you don’t need to advertise for the job you already have.

Your bullet points

Each bullet on your résumé should show a high score that is a significant achievement in your role that demonstrates your skills and capabilities in practice. Each bullet point should be constructed with a success verb and a specific numerical accomplishment in that job.

Typical résumé advice says to use active verbs, but that’s not enough. Some active verbs are bland and do nothing to help persuade a future employer. “Managed,” “established,” “defined,” and “performed,” are all considered active verbs and are frequently used on résumés. But these aren’t good verbs for communicating your high scores. You wouldn’t say “I managed a little character through a variety of levels,” or “I performed various moves in the game.”

Success verbs that show you as the hero of your own story are better. Words like grew, increased, shrank, optimized, gained, or minimized make it clearer how you’ve achieved your high scores and why you might do it again.

Everything in business comes down to the numbers: profit and loss, stock price, or market share. That’s why it makes sense to convey your worth to your future boss in numbers in your high scores.

“Show, don’t tell” is the best advice. Within the confines of confidentiality, your bullets should provide specific proof to support the skills and accomplishments in your professional summary. Simply asserting you’re good isn’t persuasive. For each bullet, describe the accomplishment with specific details. Those specific results, specific stories, and specific successes will resonate most with future bosses.

These three tactics will take you ever higher on the leaderboard in 2020.


Marc Cenedella is the founder of job search site Ladders. He is the author of bestselling guides on résumés and interviews. You can read more about High Score Resumes at Ladders News.

 

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