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6 Ways to Make Your Résumé Stand Out

6 Ways to Make Your Résumé Stand Out

Here’s a question for every job seeker: Does your résumé cite *activities*, or does your résumé cite *achievements*?

If you’re like most people, then you cite activities. These are typically your day-to-day duties. They read like a laundry list.

By contrast, an achievement packs a punch. It uses adjectives, numbers, and results to quantify your work and make it specific and real.

When your résumé is shot through with activities, it’s like all the others: Forgettable. But with achievements, you stand out. You make yourself distinctive, impressive, and memorable.

To these ends, here’s a glimpse of what we’ll cover:

• How to write to the job description.
• How to make each of your bullet points fulfill the “V.N.R.” formula.
• How to transform your responsibilities into achievements.
• How to quantify your experience even if you don’t work in an inherently quant-y field.
• How to make your résumé visually impactful.
• How a “summary” differs from an “objective.”
• How — and how not — to round off numbers.
• How to reframe a “skills” section.

Jonathan Rick
PRO

March 14, 2018
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  1. THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, College Park, Maryland Adjunct Professor of

    Business Writing, 2014 – Present • Teach the principles of business writing, encompassing subjects from proposals to PowerPoint, from memos to media training to, from branding to blogging. • Earn enthusiastic evaluations from colleagues and students, many of whom volunteer to be my teaching assistant or hire me for subsequent ghostwriting. • Nominated, by students, for a teaching award from the Office of Undergraduate Studies for “gaining and holding the attention of students in a way that few other classes do.” THE JONATHAN RICK GROUP, Arlington, Virginia President, 2011 – Present • Develop crisp and cogent copy that entertains readers as much as it educates them. • Deliver workshops on corporate communication to Fortune 1,000 companies, national nonprofits, federal agencies, and individual executives. • Conduct communication boot camps for AXA, the Food and Drug Administration, Johns Hopkins University, Booz Allen Hamilton, and chambers of commerce around the country. ROCK CREEK STRATEGIC MARKETING, Chevy Chase, Maryland Senior Strategist, 2010 – 2011 Led highly collaborative teams of strategists, technologists, and designers on innovative social media and advocacy projects that won rave reviews from demanding clients. 6 Ways to Make Your Résumé Stand Out
  2. From Subject Line Time Carrie Bradshaw Applying for Strategist Position

    8:00 am Samantha Jones I Want to Be Your Next Strategist! 6:03 am Charlotte York Please Accept My Résumé Aug 5 Miranda Hobbes Strategist Aug 5 Steve Brady The United Nations Aug 5 John J. Preston Strategist – John J. Preston Aug 5 Stanford Blatch Application for U.N. Strategist Aug 5 Trey MacDougal Strategist Position Aug 5 Aidan U.N. strategist Aug 5 H. Goldenblatt Job Posting #349 Aug 5 Jerry “Smith” Jerrod Aug 4 magda Strategy Aug 4
  3. None
  4. IF YOU DISAGREE

  5. Right Wrong resume résumé

  6. 1. Stages 2. Job Description 3. Achievements 4. Aesthetics 5.

    Rookie Mistakes 6. Pro Tricks
  7. Know the Process 1 #

  8. Stage Question Résumé Screening Call Interviews Are you qualified to

    do the job? Can you speak to these qualifications? Do you fit our culture? Cover Letter Should I read your résumé?
  9. “He or she who gets hired is not necessarily the

    one who can do that job best; but the one who knows the most about how to get hired.” — Richard Bolles
  10. Write to the Job Description 2 #

  11. What the Client Is Looking For What I Call Myself

    A ghostwriter. A speechwriter.
  12. None
  13. 5 business development 3 aggressive

  14. w ordcounter.net

  15. Résumé #3 Marketing Résumé #1 Workshops Résumé #2 Writing

  16. If I asked you to send me your résumé, what

    would you do?
  17. Should you call the section for your job history “Experience”?

  18. Uncommon Common ❌ Experience ❌ Work Experience ❌ Job History

    ü Business Development Experience ü Sales Accomplishments ü Public Relations Expertise
  19. Transform Your Activities Into Achievements 3 #

  20. V R N N R

  21. V R N erbs

  22. V R N N umbers

  23. V R N N R esults

  24. V R N erbs

  25. Verbs 1. Keep your résumé consistent.

  26. Verbs 1. Keep your résumé consistent. 2. Make your work

    sound powerful.
  27. Achievement Activity Held a weekly lunch with three other department

    heads. Organized a weekly lunch with three other department heads. Verbs
  28. Achievement Activity Made a wardrobe for a 30-something single woman

    in Manhattan. Designed a wardrobe for a 30-something single woman in Manhattan. Verbs
  29. V R N N umbers

  30. Numbers 1. Provide proof that your claims are more than

    just puffery.
  31. Numbers 1. Provide proof that your claims are more than

    just puffery. 2. Concretize your work, making it specific and real.
  32. Achievement Activity Argued before the New York State Supreme Court.

    Argued 13 cases before the New York State Supreme Court. Num bers
  33. Achievement Activity Increased the firm’s followers on Twitter. Increased the

    firm’s followers on Twitter, from 250 to 1,000. Num bers
  34. BUT…

  35. 1. I don’t really work with hard numbers. 2. My

    job leans more on softer skills. 3. I don’t have data to pull from.
  36. R F P

  37. R F P ange

  38. R F P requency

  39. R F P eople

  40. Achievement Activity Prepared daily summaries of the top news stories

    for the firm’s C.E.O. Prepared daily summaries of the top three to five news stories for the firm’s C.E.O. Range
  41. Achievement Activity Wrote a column, “Sex and the City,” for

    the New York Star. Wrote a weekly column, “Sex and the City,” for the New York Star. Frequency
  42. Achievement Activity Recruited volunteers for a charity walk to raise

    money for breast-cancer research. Recruited 12 volunteers for a charity walk to raise money for breast-cancer research. People
  43. V R N N R esults

  44. Results 1. Help the hiring manager imagine that you can

    achieve the same results for his company.
  45. Results 1. Keep your résumé consistent. 2. Transform an activity

    into an accomplishment.
  46. Achievement Activity Choreographed photoshoots. Choreographed photoshoots that won over a

    demanding client. Results
  47. Achievement Activity Spearheaded a media campaign about Smith Jerrod. Spearheaded

    a media campaign about Smith Jerrod, which helped land him on an Absolut Vodka billboard in Times Square. Results
  48. GET SPECIFIC

  49. Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer professionals

    to discuss possible steps toward improving relations among diverse department entities
  50. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing Initiated and oversaw

  51. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer

    professionals Initiated and oversaw a conference of IT specialists
  52. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer

    professionals to discuss possible steps toward improving relations Initiated and oversaw a conference of IT specialists to foster cooperation and communication
  53. Achievement Activity Was responsible for organizing a gathering of peer

    professionals to discuss possible steps toward improving relations among diverse department entities Initiated and oversaw a conference of IT specialists to foster cooperation and communication across 7 departments
  54. You Decide! 1/5 Created a C++ database for a children’s

    programming course, thus allowing teachers to remotely track 300 students’ progress in real time.
  55. Created a C++ database for a children’s programming course, thus

    allowing teachers to remotely track 300 students’ progress in real time. 1/5 ACHIEVEMENT
  56. You Decide! 2/5 Delegated tasks to a team of three,

    and monitored the team’s progress.
  57. Delegated tasks to a team of three, and monitored the

    team’s progress. 2/5 ACTIVITY
  58. You Decide! 3/5 Used propriety research about macroeconomic trends in

    Asia Pacific to upsell clients.
  59. Used propriety research about macroeconomic trends in Asia Pacific to

    upsell clients. 3/5 ACHIEVEMENT
  60. You Decide! 4/5 Update the weekly predictor model used by

    management to assess company performance.
  61. Update the weekly predictor model used by management to assess

    company performance. 4/5 ACTIVITY
  62. You Decide! 5/5 Designed two surveys that streamlined communication between

    software engineers and product developers.
  63. Designed two surveys that streamlined communication between software engineers and

    product developers. 5/5 ACHIEVEMENT
  64. AN EXCEPTION

  65. The Jonathan Rick Group President Orchestrate high-stakes communication campaigns that

    engender buzz, drive public opinion, and motivate people to action.
  66. Orchestrates Orchestrate Orchestrate high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns. Orchestrates high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns.

  67. Orchestrates Orchestrate I orchestrate high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns that engender buzz,

    drive public opinion, and motivate people to action. I orchestrates high-stakes digital-marketing campaigns that engender buzz, drive public opinion, and motivate people to action.
  68. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO GET FLOWERY

  69. Instead, Do This Don’t Do This Upgraded and deployed a

    new environmental illumination system without any cost overruns or safety incidents. Changed a light bulb.
  70. Care About Aesthetics 4 #

  71. Does the thickness of the paper you use matter?

  72. What size font should you use?

  73. Is it ok to use colors?

  74. How can you vertically align the dates for each of

    your jobs?
  75. 1 2 3

  76. Should you include an “objective” or “mission statement”?

  77. Objective To get a job that helps me pay the

    rent.
  78. Mission Statement To make a lot of money without doing

    a lot of work.
  79. Should you include a “summary”?

  80. Summary 1. Establishes a framework.

  81. Summary 1. Establishes a framework. 2. Facilitates scanning.

  82. Summary 1. Establishes a framework. 2. Facilitates scanning. 3. Emphasizes

    key points.
  83. Summary 1. Establishes a framework. 2. Facilitates scanning. 3. Emphasizes

    key points. 4. Identifies common threads.
  84. Summary 1. Establishes a framework. 2. Facilitates scanning. 3. Emphasizes

    key points. 4. Identifies common threads. 5. Focuses attention.
  85. Summary An energetic and enterprising ghostwriter. Excel at delivering copy

    that’s clear, crisp, and convincing, in formats such as résumés, cover letters, personal statements, elevator pitches, and LinkedIn profiles.
  86. Avoid Rookie Mistakes 5 #

  87. Don’t be selfish.

  88. “The hiring manager isn’t here to make your dreams come

    true. They’re in it for themselves. OK, that’s harsh, but the truth is that they’re looking for an awesome candidate to come in and do a kick-ass job that’ll help them run their department (or company) more efficiently and successfully.” — Lisa Siva
  89. Selfless Selfish Expanded my knowledge of GAAP compliance. Stayed abreast

    of the latest GAAP regulations.
  90. Selfless Selfish Gained networking experience by meeting with other chapter

    presidents. Met regularly with other chapter presidents to swap best practices and coordinate activities.
  91. Selfless Selfish Honed time-management skills. Juggled competing client demands without

    sacrificing the quality of service.
  92. Selfless Selfish Learned the importance of corporate social responsibility. Helped

    define Exxon’s policy on corporate social responsibility by contributing research to the company’s 2018 annual report.
  93. Be consistent.

  94. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Employee of the Month ❌ Served as

    first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls ❌ Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews ü Named Employee of the Month for overtime work ü Served as first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls ü Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews
  95. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Named Employee of the Month for overtime

    work. ❌ Served as first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls. ❌ Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews ü Named Employee of the Month for overtime work. ü Served as first point of contact for visitors, deliveries, and phone calls. ü Recruited interns, and screened them for interviews.
  96. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Short Hills, NJ ❌ Clinton, NY ❌

    Arlington, V.A. ü Short Hills, NJ ü Clinton, NY ü Arlington, VA
  97. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ Human Resources Director ❌ Associate Director of

    Human Resources ❌ Assistant Director of Human Resources ü Director of Human Resources ü Associate Director of Human Resources ü Assistant Director of Human Resources
  98. Consistent Inconsistent ❌ 2015 - Present ❌ 2011- 2015 ❌

    2008 - 2011 ❌ 2005 - 2008 ü 2015 – Present ü 2011 – 2015 ü 2008 – 2011 ü 2005 – 2008
  99. How can I show experience if I don’t have any?

  100. 1. Coursework

  101. 1. Coursework 2. Internships

  102. 1. Coursework 2. Internships 3. Clubs

  103. 1. Coursework 2. Internships 3. Clubs 4. Sports

  104. 1. Coursework 2. Internships 3. Clubs 4. Sports 5. Personal

    Projects
  105. Account Executive, Advertising Sales Yellow Book Seriously: I sold phone-book

    ads. Right when smartphones came out. In the Detroit area. The joke just writes itself. What do phone-book ads have to do with my current copywriting calling? Only everything. As a salesman, I hit the streets and talked every day with small-business owners about their passions, their dreams, their challenges. I realized that the smartest entrepreneurs have a deep appreciation for the power of marketing and a heightened BS detector. So, I learned how to shut up and listen, how to unearth hidden emotional pains and triggers, and how to convince people to buy with their hearts. This B2B knowledge now informs every project I take on.
  106. Barista Latte Larry’s On the weekends in high school, I

    was an entry-level, minimum- wage barista at the campus coffee shop. Not the most glamourous job, but nonetheless a critical one. Really? What exactly does the experience of serving cups of Joe have to do with my career in journalism? Only everything. Let me explain. Dealing with people — especially on a campus as big and as diverse as that of the University of Maryland’s — is tough. Some customers are belligerent; others struggle with spoken English; others are exactly the entitled narcissists whom society has come to associate with Gen Z. Yet whatever the situation, I found a way to defuse it. Sometimes that meant giving away a free scone. Sometimes that meant spending a few extra minutes perfecting the swirl on a latte. Sometimes that meant saying “sorry” (even when I wasn’t wrong). As a reporter, I’ll encounter sources of all varieties. Some of these folks will be weird; others will be wonderful. Yet in order to succeed, I’ll have to cultivate all comers. I’ll have to be humble, adaptable, and welcoming — three traits that I mastered as a college barista at Latte Larry’s.
  107. How long should your résumé be?

  108. None
  109. None
  110. Should you list your references?

  111. In the “heading” space for each job, how many identifying

    details do you need?
  112. 4

  113. 1. Employer 2. Title 3. Location 4. Dates

  114. 1. I worked at ________, 2. where I was a

    ________, 3. from ________. 4. located in ________,
  115. Samantha Jones PR Founder 1998 – 2004 New York, New

    York
  116. Master the Tricks Used by the Pros 6 #

  117. Is it ok to change your job title?

  118. Résumé Business Card Senior Consultant Senior Consultant, Alumni Affairs

  119. Elevator Pitch Contract Lecturer Adjunct Professor

  120. Describe any employers that your audience might not recognize.

  121. Clear Unclear Susan Davis International Account Executive Launched and led

    the digital department. Susan Davis International Account Executive Launched and led the digital department of this boutique PR agency.
  122. Clear Unclear The USMCA Coalition Executive Director Founded this nonprofit

    to lobby for congressional approval of the 2018 North American trade deal. The USMCA Coalition Executive Director Founded this nonprofit, which consists of the top business trade associations, to lobby for congressional approval of the 2018 North American trade deal.
  123. Should you include a “skills” section?

  124. Embarrassing ❌ Word ❌ Google Docs ❌ Windows ❌ Social

    Media
  125. Useful Useless ❌ Excel ❌ Photoshop ü Created advanced pivot

    tables in Excel to track inventory in real time ü Designed images and ads, in Photoshop, for clients’ Facebook and Twitter accounts
  126. None
  127. 5 Reasons Why People Think They Need a “Skills” Section

    on Their Résumé — And Why They’re Wrong JONATHANRICK.COM
  128. How should you present numbers?

  129. With Context Without Context Grew sales to $5M/year. Grew sales

    by 66%, from $3M/year to $5M/year.
  130. #5 $12,500 #1 $12,329 #2 $12,000+ #3 $12,300 #4 ~$12,500

    $12,329
  131. #5 255 tickets #1 254 tickets #2 Over 250 tickets

    #3 300 tickets #4 250 tickets 254
  132. BUT NEVER LIE

  133. Yahoo Confirms CEO Is Out After Résumé Scandal

  134. Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie

  135. A USPS Vice President Was (Quietly) Sent to Prison for

    Lying on His Job Application
  136. How do you account for time off?

  137. Multitasking Might Stay at Home Mom, 2008 – 2018 v

    Raised 3 young children, instilling in each the values of hard work, honesty, and excellence. v Managed household finances, creating and adhering to a budget for a family of 6. v Implemented HR procedures by resolving all manner of complaints and arguments.
  138. RECAP 1. What’s the purpose of a résumé? 2. Name

    a website that identifies key phrases in a job description. 3. Each one of your bullet points should ideally adhere to the “VNR” formula. What’s “VNR”? 4. Name one rookie mistake. 5. How can you align dates? 6. Should you include a “summary”? 7. Instead of calling your job history “experience,” what might you call it?
  139. LET’S REVIEW YOUR RÉSUMÉ! hi@jonathanrick.com