Applying for a job can be an arduous process. You must cater your resume and cover letter to each potential position to describe your capabilities in the way that will best match the job on offer. It’s fine to work from a template, swapping out the details as applicable, but making sure the employer understands you are a match for their unique needs is essential to landing that interview. It’s easy to get caught up in the weeds trying to describe your skills and experience. Here is a quick tip for describing your qualifications and demonstrating you are the right fit for the job.
As you begin crafting your resume, start by cross-examining the responsibilities of experts in the field with your own experience to pinpoint your accomplishments. First, make sure you are clear on the difference between a responsibility and achievement. A responsibility is a duty required by a role, whereas an achievement details how well you executed your duties. Your resume should do more than list your prior roles; it must reveal your achievements and bring specificity to your qualifications.
Live Career has a useful tool for extrapolating your unique skills from generic roles and responsibilities. Using a table format, list the roles and responsibilities in one column and fill in your accomplishments on the other. The accomplishments should list particular examples. For example, the sample shows “planned events” as the responsibility and “organized a sold-out charity event for 300 people and raised $125,000” as the accomplishment. The former is a vague statement, while the latter specifies the level at which the task was executed. This writing exercise could help enhance your resume and maximize your chances of landing that dream job.
To take the exercise to another level, make sure your achievements are clearly explained by answering who, what, where, and when questions for each responsibility listed. The International Hellenic University career guide advises that any listed achievements illustrate three components:
- Using a particular skill.
- Carrying out a particular activity.
- Realizing a measurable/quantifiable result or benefit.
When answering the “four Ws,” keep in mind that you want the person reading your resume to have grasped those three components of each of your achievements after reading over your resume, with no additional outside information from you. Your achievements form the core of your qualifications.
A strong resume also requires a concise summary of qualifications—and “summary” here means short and concise. As Indeed illustrates, “the standard format for a summary of qualifications is a bullet point list.” Your qualifications do not need to be spelled out in full sentences; you should favor communicating your skills quickly. Reviewers are likely receiving hundreds of resumes for each position, and you want yours to make you look good at a glance.
If you are having trouble identifying the keywords to use in your summary, take a closer look at the job listing, or do a simple search for jobs with comparable titles. Use the roles and responsibilities you find to compile your own unique bullet points. Don’t use someone else’s words as your own. (That’s called plagiarism.) Rather, let them serve as a road map to describing your own experience, skills, and attributes.