The first step in writing an effective resume requires that you define the position or type of position you are looking for. If you are applying for several types of jobs, consider writing a different resume for each. Your resume will be most effective when you target a specific type of job, and then describe how your skills, abilities, and experience qualify you for that position.
Research the job responsibilities and requirements for each position. You can find this information by browsing through the job advertisements for your occupation. Determine what your responsibilities will be, what skills, abilities, and knowledge you’ll need, and what personal and professional characteristics are required for success. Once you have determined the requirements of the position, analyze your past experience, accomplishments, education, skills and personal characteristics, and begin building your resume in a way that demonstrates your ability to succeed.
The best resumes describe your accomplishments and experience in terms of an Action- Benefit statement, which is a precise description of an action you took that produced a tangible and measurable result that benefited your company.
Writing Powerful Action-Benefit Statements
Action-Benefit statements use your accomplishments and experience to demonstrate the positive impact you can have on a company’s bottom line. An Action-Benefit statement consists of:
Action: A job responsibility or specific action that you took when faced with a situation, problem, or opportunity that enabled you to achieve a positive result.
Benefit: The positive result or benefit to the organization, such as an increase in revenue, a reduction in costs, streamlined processes or systems, or improved morale.
An Action-Benefit statement might read “Analyzed declining sales and developed campaign that increased orders by 30% in less than one month.” This statement describes the situation or challenge you faced (declining sales), the Action you took (developed a campaign), and the Benefit of your actions (a 30% increase in orders). Always quantify or qualify the accomplishments and achievements described in your Action-Benefit statement. When you are quantifying results, consider the impact of your work in measurable terms and include the numbers, percents, dollars, and other values that represent your experience in the best possible light.
Before: Supervised a large staff of retail employees covering multiple territories. Effectively managed business unit P&L and consistently grew profits.
After: Ten years experience managing 15 employees across multiple territories. Effectively managed P&L of $10 million business unit. Consistently generated 30-35% gross profit.
Alternatively, when you are qualifying accomplishments, consider describing the process, depicting the environment, and including the personal characteristics that a future employer would consider valuable.
Before: Increased sales through cold-calling, follow-up, and account management.
After: Consistently grew revenue and profits in a rapidly changing environment through aggressive cold-calling, persistent followup, and relationship-focused account management
When writing an Action-Benefit statement, it is unnecessary to provide details on how you solved the problem. You can provide this information at the interview. Focus on the results as opposed to the process. If your Action-Benefit statements are powerful enough, employers will invite you in for an interview just to see how you achieved the results.