There is an adage known in creative writing circles that says: “show… don’t tell.” Essentially it means, always demonstrate an assertion with an example, rather than just making a generalization.

Why would a creative writing concept crossover so neatly into resume writing? It is because a resume is essentially a story — your story, told quickly and in bullet points. It is a narrative that must be concise, but also consistent and specific with clarifying language.

In a resume it might be demonstrated like this:

Instead of just TELLING a hiring manager that you are “a consummate leader,” you might SHOW them with an instance like:

  • Managed a team of 20 multidivisional stakeholders to complete a $1.2M re-branding effort that gleaned a 30% increase in client engagement.

So how do you craft a better story?

BE CONSISTENT

Make sure that your resume is on the right track and keep it focused. That means if you are looking for a job in pharmaceutical sales, be sure to reference your work in the medical arena a great deal more than your time managing a restaurant — even if you have had more restaurant management experience.

GIVE METRICS WHEREVER POSSIBLE

Numbers have a two-fold effect on your resume. First, they add something measurable and concrete to your skills. Second, they are proven to draw the eye. With only 6 seconds or so to try to win a position, drawing the reader to a specific reference is key.

AVOID TRITE PHRASES

It is imperative to avoid loose and overused buzzwords that essentially say nothing about your actual accomplishments. Hiring managers are wise to phrases like “thought leadership” and “detail-oriented” that seem to convey something about the applicant, but amount to just vagaries. EBI has created an infographic that helps you avoid the worst of these clichés and tells you both what a hiring manager hears when you use offending phrasing, and what you can do to improve.

Other phrases they recommend excising from your resume include:

  • Strong organizational skills

  • Detail-oriented

  • A perfect fit for your team

  • Synergy

  • Jack of all trades

  • Willing to put in extra work

  • Team player

  • Thought leadership

  • Self-motivated

While many of these seem as though they would cast you in a good light, they are instead resume killers, giving those that read them a poor impression of your abilities.

All resumes tell a story — make yours a compelling one by being specific and keeping out phrases that talk around your skills.

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