After you have defined your distinct brand and clarified your target audience, you are tasked with creating content and messaging that will resonate with your target employer and position you as a competitive candidate for jobs of your choice.
I know that résumé writing doesn’t come naturally to most people, even writers and marketers. In fact, a lot of us go to work feeling like we are merely fulfilling our functions and collecting a paycheck for our efforts. We are completely unaware and unawakened to the value we bring to an organization and the greater purpose and impact of our work. Yet, identifying and articulating this is what will enable you to inspire your next employer to offer you the job.
At a minimum, you must set up some context for what you did, and prove that you did it well or better than someone else who might have filled that role.
At a maximum, to excite the employer, you want them to be able to easily visualize you succeeding in the role by using an approach and being a personality that meshes with their culture. The impact is the extra step most formulas are missing. Distinct from a result, the impact is what occurs after a job has been done well.
For instance, writing a résumé that my clients completely love is a result. The impact of the résumé done well is that it produces interviews. The impact of an increase in interviews is an increase in confidence and hope. This leads my clients to feel a greater sense of empowerment and control over their professional destiny. I may not include all of these impacts in the résumé, but I would most certainly start with the most immediate impact on my client, and then in my LinkedIn profile go into greater details about the most fulfilling part of doing a job well, which is the trickle down impact and cascade of further positive outcomes.
To just get started with the basics, here are some formulas that can help you build the bullets of your résumé and prepare anecdotes that will validate you have the skills to do the job throughout the interview process.
Most achievement story templates tend to be two to three paragraphs that fit on one page. They may be included in a portfolio or binder that you bring with you to interviews. However, most people do not easily recollect details buried in paragraphs, and you will not want to read your achievement stories in an interview. At the end of the last formula, we will tell you how to remedy this.
- PAR/CAR – Problem/Challenge > Action > Result
Problem/Challenge – This becomes difficult for someone who, say, closes the monthly financial books. Ask yourself, what are the consequences to the business if this job is done poorly? Within the answer you will be able to find the value. It is what you may prevent from happening.
Action – What you did, specifically, to resolve the problem or overcome the challenge.
Result – The proof that what was done was effective.
- STAR – Situation > Task > Action > Result
Situation – Includes Who, What, When, Where and How
Task – What had to be done and what the challenges of doing so were
Action – What YOU did, specifically, your individual contributions
Result – What was the measurable outcome? How do you know you took the right actions?
- SCPDASTRI – The EPIC formula
My formula is not as simple an acronym, and you would not necessarily use all of these components in a bullet in your résumé. Use this formula to lay the foundation of a cohesive story that your résumé, LinkedIn profile, interview and other venues compliment and supplement, building greater and greater excitement.
Situation – the conditions that existed that necessitated a change or some kind of action
Challenge(s) – what made this an impressive feat
People impacted and the impact – who was experiencing the conditions AND who was engaged to address it
Decision made – and who made it/them
Actions taken – and by whom (“we” is not specific enough.)
Skills, talents applied – “hard” and “soft” skills
Tools used – technical tools, as well as approaches and methodologies
Results – what outcomes did the actions produce in as many measurable terms as possible. Think about showing PROOF that the action was taken or that it was successful
Impact – how that trickled down to other people
For a résumé intended to be concise, you would pick out the most impressive components, and start to build bullets from the bottom of the formula and work upward.
For a LinkedIn profile, you would include more of the backstory and use natural language, versus concise résumé speak.
In an interview, you would actually want to break the story out into bullets, and, depending on how you best recollect details, associate these bullets with something memorable to you. (More in a future blog on this.)
It can be quite a leap from thinking of your job as fulfilling your daily, weekly, monthly duties to seeing clearly the impact that you had on an organization by doing your job well. I recommend that you start with the basic formula. Build it into your résumé to have something effective that will help you present your skills, knowledge and experience. Make sure your LinkedIn profile converts your bullets into a compelling story, and then convert your story into even shorter bullets that will be easy to remember when you network and interview.
Then, as you master that, start to expand your awareness of your value and impact. Look past your duties to the reasons you were chosen to do the job, and why your bosses and co-workers should be grateful that you were the one in the position (whether they were actually grateful or not).
Fill in the additional details from the advanced formula. Re-craft your bullets and LinkedIn profile. Enhance the achievement story bullets that you have already been recalling with ease with additional details that paint an even more vivid picture of what it looks like to have you in the job.
The better your interviewer/future boss can visualize this, the harder it will be for someone else to come in and make a stronger impression.