With layoffs afflicting thousands of financial-services professionals, and post-bonus job hunting on the horizon for many others, now is the time to update your resume. You’ve probably been told countless times that a resume must highlight achievements and not just list the mundane tasks of your various jobs. But what are the best ways of showing off your career feats within the confines of a CV? Here is some advice from resume experts.
It’s no good just mentioning that you reduced costs or made money – give a figure to support yourself. “An accomplishment statement that does not convey the benefit to the company will appear generic and lose credibility,” says Gavin Redelman, managing director of Sydney consultancy RedStarResume. “A hiring manager wants factual information – numbers, percentages etc – which proves how you added value to your previous employers.”
If you’re a manager, show how you lead your team to success, says Dr John Taccori, a Sydney career counselor and founder of careersdoctor.net. He says the following example is ideal: “I was responsible for overseeing the work of 20 staff on my team. I had to keep motivating the team towards sales targets through innovative and inexpensive reward programmes. This resulted in increased sales of 9 percent every quarter over a two-year period.”
It you achieved success during challenging business conditions – within your company or the broader economy – be sure to shout about it, says Naishadh Gadani, a career advisor at Melbourne-based consultancy Nabenet. “Granting the reader an insight into obstacles that you encountered can enhance your resume’s performance.”
Gadani once advised an Australian finance manager whose CV stated that he “saved $1.3m in exchange fluctuations.” He didn’t mention that this happened at the height of the global financial crisis. Gadani changed the statement to read: “Skillfully steered the organisation during the GFC. Opened a USD account to take advantage of a natural hedge. Result: Savings of $1.3m in exchange fluctuations.”
No doubt you can rattle off your so-called “key strengths” when asked, but don’t forget that your CV should be based around them, too. If communication with the front office is a forte, for example, add related accomplishments to your resume. And don’t just highlight one particular strong point – employers want evidence for everything. “There is no rule on how many achievements to include, and it’s important to use them to illustrate your differentiating strengths and communicate the direct benefits the employer can expect,” says Redelman from RedStarResume.
While it’s not advisable to be flowery with language, the use of what Gadani calls “high-impact verbs” can draw attention to your achievements. “Action” words like “orchestrated, championed, re-engineered, retooled, cultivated, remedied, transformed and launched” suggest that you took charge of the task, he adds. Redelman advises: “Use short, sharp bullet points to emphasise your achievements, include language that is relevant to your industry, and back this up with verbs such as executed, interpreted, strengthened and achieved.”
Hit the reader of your resume with achievements on page one, says Redelman. “A separate ‘accomplishments’ section is a great way to do this. Don’t bury your triumphs on page three. If a hiring manager spends a limited time looking at your CV, make sure they read the most important information straight away.”
They way you write your achievements shouldn’t be static. “Refer back to the essential criteria in each advertisement,” says Taccori from careersdoctor.net. “Use key words from the job description in your achievements section because recruiters often use computer programs to scan online CVs and search for key words. If you do not have them, guess what: you don’t get the chance of being shortlisted for an interview.”