When it comes to building a better resume, the goal is to create an effective document that highlights your value as a candidate and persuades the reader to want to learn more about you. This task can seem much more daunting than it actually is, especially if you’re battling the first hurdle of getting going. Starting to build a resume is often the hardest part, and once you’ve accomplished that, it becomes a bit easier. Here are four things that will help you build a better resume:
1. Shift your perspective
The first step to building a better resume is actually starting the process, but—as we all know—this can prove to be very challenging. Instead of thinking about it as a daunting task, shift your perspective to view the act of writing your resume in a more positive light.
In the book, Your Twenties: No One Ever Teaches You How to Grow Up, You Know?, career coach Jessica Smith tells readers to “think of updating your resume as a special time to admire all you’ve accomplished.” Shifting your mindset and taking this perspective when building your resume can help to create a more positive experience, and may also help you take credit and acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished.
In my experience, one of the biggest challenges people face when writing their resumes (and on the job search in general) is selling themselves short and underestimating their value. Think about this when you update your resume. It’s important to be proud of your accomplishments, take credit where you deserve it, and highlight all that you can bring to the table.
2. Determine some tangible accomplishments you’ve made throughout your career
This will look different for everyone. Accomplishments could be anything from achieving a sales quota, to securing a partnership deal, or successfully executing an event. Alternatively, you could discuss projects you worked on and led, and how those projects panned out. The whole point is to share examples of what you’ve achieved throughout your role to serve as evidence to the claim that you are good at what you do.
Some people will have specific numbers to include, and if you do have this kind of metric to integrate, be sure to do so. Numbers are always fantastic to add to your resume if you have access to them, but sometimes this isn’t the case.
If you’re someone who focuses on strategic partnerships, try to include information about revenue created from the partnerships you built, yet if that’s not possible due to NDA or privacy agreements, focus on the actual partnerships. Who did you secure partnerships with? What did these partnerships result in? Did they help gain access to another part of the market? Were you able to connect with new consumers? Did the partnership provide increased insight on a subject? If you don’t have numbers, it’s OK, but be sure to include other tangible results to show what you accomplished.
3. Create an area where you can easily add notes, and use it!
Do yourself a favor and create a space where you can easily jot down notes about your job and your accomplishments. This can be a Google Drive folder, the notes section of your phone, or even in your planner. Determining a space where you can add and accumulate data for your resume will make the process of updating your resume much easier. Try to make a habit of taking notes on any new responsibilities or achievements as they happen. Writing yourself a few bullet points about what is happening at work only takes a couple of minutes, but this simple task can create a huge advantage when you go to build your resume later. Trying to remember small details can be difficult and overwhelming, but if you make a habit of writing this kind of information down regularly, you’ll have all of the information you need. From there, you can simply sift through the information and use the information that is most valuable.
Gathering data to integrate can be difficult, so it’s important to do your best to look at your accomplishments in an unbiased nature. You might consider what you’ve done to be trivial, but think about how you would view it if someone else accomplished that same task. It’s easy to undervalue what you do, but try to be truthful with yourself and place value where it is deserved.
When you’re writing notes about your accomplishments, ask yourself the following questions:
- What projects have you worked on?
- What did you do in each project?
- Did your responsibilities change? If so, how?
- What was the goal of the project?
- Did you achieve that goal? If not, what did you learn from the project?
- Who did you work on from the project?
- What did you (personally) gain from the project? Did you learn something new or further your knowledge in a specific area?
Once you’ve written this information down, use it to your advantage when you write your resume. The more examples you include about how you have excelled in your role, the more effective your resume will be.
4. Set aside some time to update your resume on a recurring basis so you always have an updated version on hand
Stumbling on the perfect opportunity with a very tight deadline is a very common, yet stressful situation that many people face. This might not sound like the worst thing in the world, however, if you have to submit a job application or resume quickly but don’t actually have a current resume on-hand, this can be a huge stress point. Additionally, having to work quickly and put something together at the last minute may cause you to submit a document that leaves out crucial information or simply doesn’t articulate your full potential. Eliminate this risk and set aside time to update your resume on a regular basis so you have a document that is at least mostly up to date.
If this is not something you’re used to, (most people don’t think to adopt this tactic on their own) it may feel very uncomfortable at first; however, it will be very beneficial in the long run. One important thing to keep in mind? Updating your resume does not automatically mean that you’re unhappy at your job. Maintaining an updated resume and being happy in your current role are not mutually exclusive. Think of updating your resume like cleaning the house or maintaining a garden; if you do a little bit at a time, it’s pretty painless, but if you leave everything to get super messy and overgrown, it will take that much longer when you finally set off to execute the task.
If you brainstorm ideas when you have time and start making a habit of writing down notes about projects you’re working on or notable achievements you’ve made as they happen, the more integrated this will become into your behavioral patterns. This will help you quantify your achievements on your resume and will ensure that you’re never scrambling to submit an application. Furthermore, this will help you be more prepared for interviews, performance reviews, and your own personal assessments.