Writing a resume is hard for a multitude of reasons, but potentially one of the most challenging aspects of it is looking at your qualifications and achievements with an unbiased opinion. I work with a lot of clients across all stages of life, and the most common thing I see is that people tend to undervalue themselves. People often fail to acknowledge how much they’ve actually accomplished in their life, which means that they leave a lot of important information off of their resume.
When you write your resume, you want to provide information that articulates your value and persuades the reader to want to learn more about you. The easiest way to think about your resume is to think of it as a movie trailer. It sounds weird, but stick with me for a minute. You know how movie trailers always show the best parts of the movie to make you want to actually see the whole thing? Your resume is just like that! Think of it like a snapshot or a trailer for your career. Highlight the best parts and most notable achievements so potential employers want to learn more about you as a candidate and see the full picture of what you have to offer.
Here are four things you (probably) forgot to include on your resume.
Metrics are easily one of the most important factors of an effective resume. “Subjective terms and clichés are seen as negative because they don’t convey real information. For instance, don’t say you are ‘results-driven’; show the employer your actual results,” Rosemary Haefner, formerly the vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in a press release regarding a CareerBuilder survey about the best and worst words to use in a resume.
While it is absolutely important to highlight the specifics of your role, if you’re only highlighting the job description and not your achievements themselves, your resume will not be as effective as it could be. You want to show potential employers what you have accomplished so they can get a better idea of what you will bring to the company and what you can do for them.
If you only talk about the role you played but don’t show them what you did within that role, your resume will not serve you well. Include as much data and metrics as possible. Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself to gather metrics to include in your resume:
- How many accounts did you manage?
- How much in sales volume did you secure? (weekly, monthly, or annually)
- Did you reduce cost? (either by a percentage or dollar amount)
- How many clients did you interact with (daily, weekly, monthly, or annually)
- Did you meet or surpass a quota? If so, by how much?
- Did you manage a team? If so, how many team members did you manage?
- Did you work with any notable clients or vendors? If so, can you list them?
You may not have metrics off the top of your head, so go ahead and calculate them. Do some research and figure out your personal statistics! As long as you can prove your work and your numbers, you can include it on your resume.
Side projects are extremely beneficial to include on your resume because they highlight related experience, motivation, and the ability to manage multiple projects concurrently.
Additionally, when you highlight side hustles or passion projects, you also give insight into who you are as a person. Your resume often won’t provide the reader with insight about your personality, however. Including projects that you work on outside of your “day job” allows the reader to see another side of you. This information can also humanize your resume and help the reader establish a stronger connection with you as a candidate, which is always a bonus. Any time you can make yourself come across as a real human instead of just writing on paper, you want to take advantage of that. This information allows the reader to see something other than just your career, which in turn lets them get a better sense of your value as a candidate. A great resume will intrigue the reader to want to learn more about you, and sharing side projects or passion projects helps with that.
Most people seem to think that if you didn’t get paid for it, it doesn’t count as work experience, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! A government study found that volunteering is associated with 27 percent higher odds of employment. While you may not be working for profit, volunteer work can increase your community awareness, help you build meaningful relationships, and provide you with valuable experience. According to a 2015 study done on people ages 25 and over, 38.8 percent of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree and higher volunteered. This means that your chances of meeting other professionals while volunteering are good. Additionally, this experience may provide you with opportunities to increase your expertise in client-facing communication, multi-tasking, or just provide you with additional industry experience to add to your resume. Any way you look at it, volunteer work is an awesome thing to add to your resume.
Tutorials/Courses/Specialized Training/On the Job Training (i.e. professional development)
Let’s be clear, you don’t need to go to an accredited university to put classes, tutorials, or training on your resume; you just need to further develop your knowledge on a subject. As long as you can prove that you have a skill or are knowledgeable about something, it doesn’t matter where you learned it, so you can always add it to your resume.
As long as you can prove that you have a skill or are knowledgeable on something, it doesn’t matter where you learned it
Do you notice that a lot of jobs require QuickBooks or another specific software? Take an online tutorial or course so you learn about the program and can put it in the skills matrix of your resume. You don’t need to become an expert on it, but if you can take a course to familiarize yourself with the subject or program, you’ll be able to include that information on your resume.
At the very least, watching YouTube tutorials will give you a better understanding of how the software works. This way you can include “Familiar with [software name]” on your resume. Including this phrase will help your resume become more searchable and will bring you up when a hiring manager or recruiter searches for candidates with that software knowledge.
Furthermore, if you do take an online course or tutorial, as long as you’re confident in the subject matter, you can include it under “specialized training” on your resume. Including certifications and specialized training helps highlight your expertise and adds value to you as a candidate. If you can show that you’re well-versed in a qualification or requirement of the position, this will help you stand out from the crowd.
Another thing that most people forget to include on their resume is on-the-job training. Did your company host a training workshop on workplace violence or on a specific software that was being implemented? You can include this on your resume! Any time you took some sort of professional development course, sat in on a seminar, or improved your skillset, it’s worth adding to your document. This not only highlights your value but helps add important keywords and phrases to your document. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are often used to keyword search resumes, so it’s important to get relevant keywords and phrases into your document whenever possible. Confused about how to do this? Read over the job description and highlight any words or phrases that are repeated throughout. Does the job description repeatedly mention “collaboration” or “collaborating” with others? Those terms should probably be on your resume!
Most people aren’t taught how to write a resume in school, and if resume writing is taught, it’s usually taught with outdated information. Because of this, most people leave off useful information when they write a resume. If you’ve left off important information, relax. You’re not alone! Don’t fret about it. Instead, take this information, update your resume to help present the best version of yourself in your job application, and move forward!