The art of writing a resume
Are you writing your resume?
Reflect on this before you start writing. The reason for your writing the resume will then direct what content is relevant in the resume.
Most often, resumes are written to establish credentials for a role and get you invited for an interview. Roles can be full time jobs, contracting positons, event speaker slots, board positions, or even elected office.
Each role has a set of attributes and measures of success linked with it.
Via a resume, you are communicating that you have the necessary attributes and track record which will ensure that you deliver on the outcomes expected from the role.
If this is what needs to be articulated in a resume, first reflect on
1. The role are you applying for
2. What is this role expected to deliver i.e. what are the goals and objectives assigned to it
3. The qualifications/experiences which are requisites to achieve the goals
4. Given 2 & 3, what qualifications and accomplishments can you highlight to demonstrate that you will be successful in this role & will hit the ground running
5. If you do not have accomplishments this role requires, what accomplishments and credentials can you share to demonstrate that you will be successful in the role though with modest ramp up time and learning
Let’s take an example of someone aiming for a role to pursue and win new clients in the Insurance vertical on behalf of a technology services company, and having won them, also grow business with them. This individual has been selling technology solutions to the Insurance vertical on behalf of outsourcing companies and SI’s in the past
We will write the resume in 4 sections. These sections build on each other – hence each section needs to make impact and get interest for the reader/hiring manager to want to get more detail from subsequent sections
Section 1 - Introduction
Think of the one line which describes your professional career in the relevance of the role which you are applying for. Follow that up with 2 – 3 lines highlighting to your ability to deliver on the goals for the role(s).
This is your elevator pitch. You are communicating what you can accomplish – and talking to the primary G&O’s of the role(s).
Track record of consistently winning and growing clients in the Insurance vertical in the USA for IT services companies. Led and won deals of $ 10+ million TCV & cross sold services across the complete range of technologies to grow existing customers to $ 8 + million.
A focused introduction is essential. Written well, it invites the reader to delve deeper into your credentials in the resume.
Customize the introduction section to the role which you are applying for. This one short paragraph can significantly impact the attention your candidature gets.
Section 2 – Relevant accomplishments
Having made an elevator pitch – I have won new clients in the Insurance vertical and grown them, selling multiple services. Led & won large deal pursuits – you now need to support it with evidence.
Relevant accomplishments should follow the short introduction, elaborating on the successes which you have touched upon in the introduction
a) Pursued and won 4 new clients among mid & large PNC insurers in 3 years between 2010 - 12
b) Since 2012 responsible for growing 4 existing clients which I grew to between $ 6 – 8 million each by mapping multiple buying centers and cross selling a range of services from application maintenance, legacy migration/modernization, app testing, & mobile development
c) Pursued 7 deals which ranged from $ 8 – 18 million TCV and won 2 of them.
d) Proficient in the claims, customer care, product development & underwriting processes in PNC Insurance
Sections 1 & 2 should make the case that you can do the job, have a track record of similar accomplishments in the past, and hence will be productive quickly.
Section 3 – Professional chronology
What you are looking to communicate here is where and when you accomplished what you have summarized in Section 2. Mention past roles and within each role, first highlight the accomplishments which are relevant to the role(s) which you are aiming for and then any other noteworthy achievements.
What you want to communicate in this section is
a) In your past jobs, your accomplishments vs. the goals for the role
b) That you demonstrated a commitment to the companies you worked for in the past (or were you making frequent changes – which could be a reflection or a lack of commitment and/or a lack of performance)
c) The kind of firms which you worked for (Did you work for firms similar to the one which you are looking to be recruited for – and hence will assimilate and be able to perform in the new company)
Writing this section in chronological order best brings out how recent your accomplishments are, and also the tenures in different roles (which are seen as a proxy for commitment). The most recent roles & experiences are most relevant; hence detail them, while going lighter on the details as you go back into your work chronology.
For the IT sales person who we have taken as an example, here is what could be a section 3.
Role 1 - 2012 – present – Client partner – Insurance vertical
Responsible for growing business with clients in Southeast USA.
a) Grew business with 4 clients to between $ 6 – 8 million, doubling each of them in less than 3 years
b) Led 3 deals of $ 8 + million – winning 1 of them for a total of $11 million TCV
c) Mapped different buying centers and sold new business in app development, digital migration, testing, & mobile solutions
Role 2 – 2010 – 12 - Regional director – Insurance vertical – Mid-size IT services company
Responsible for identifying, pursuing, and winning new clients
a) Pursued and won 2 new clients in 2011 and 2 in 2012 – each a Fortune 1000 company
b) Led 4 deals of $ 10 + million – winning 1 of them for a total of $24 million TCV
c) Generated 50 leads working with inside sales & through trade shows
Role 3 – 2006 - 2010
Role 4 - ……
Consider detailing role accomplishment for roles going back the last 10 – 12 years. These reflect more recent, and replicable, accomplishments. If you have been working longer, mention prior roles with the role/company/title/tenure and a line on the key G&O’s for those roles.
Section 4 – Education & other relevant professional data
This section is for you to write about any accomplishments or attributes not already covered which will help you be productive in the role(s) which you are looking to be recruited into.
These can include
a) Relevant education – if a type of education can facilitate success in your role E.g. for project management roles a PMP, or CFA for a finance professional, a relevant degree in engineering or sciences for a technical role.
b) Relevant network – If membership of associations of bodies can facilitate success in your role, mention the ones which you have been or are a member of.
c) Any involvement in the community which could be seen as a plus by the employers who are sponsors of similar community activities.
Bear in mind that this section, like the rest of the resume, is also written to communicate why/how you will be successful in the role(s) which you are aiming for.
Resumes are written for a purpose. That purpose is to make the case for why you can do the job you are applying for and get you into invited for an interview.
Write your resume keeping this in mind. Focus on the requirements of the role and highlight relevant accomplishments, experiences and credentials.
Consider writing four sections
1. The first a short para on your key accomplishments & credentials relevant to the role
2. Follow this up with 4 – 5 relevant accomplishments from past jobs
3. Mention roles going back the last 10 – 12 roles in chronology and what you accomplished in each
4. Close with your academic or other credentials which will help in being successful in the role which you are aiming for