By Mike Manoske
Forbes, Forbes Coaching Council, March 27, 2019 —
A couple of years ago, a friend was very concerned about his resume. His frustration boiled over after asking five people to evaluate it. He summed it up this way: “I asked five people and got 10 different opinions!”
This is similar to what many of my career coaching clients experience. A bigger challenge is detailing effective success stories in a resume using as few words as possible.
In our job search and career development program at the Wharton Executive MBA program in San Francisco, we use three steps that create easy-to-read, impactful resumes.
Step 1: Choose and format your success stories.
The first challenge of resume writing is figuring out what’s important to share. The obvious answer is to talk about your career successes, but a couple of questions typically pop up:
“Is this success story relevant for the role I’m seeking?”
“Can I explain this success story in a way other people understand?”
Start by categorizing your success stories in these buckets:
• Fixed: You identified a problem and corrected it. Explain how it was solved and the results.
• Improved: You took an existing situation, challenge, service, or product that was satisfactory and made it better.
• Created: You built a new process, service or even a product from scratch.
Step 2: Leave tactics out of it.
Start with a draft of the success story. Explain the initial situation, your actions and the results or impact. Here’s how to move from a draft to a successful bullet.
Typically, resume writing uses the four-step model STAR (situation, tactics, action and results). The challenge is tactics: They put too much detail in a resume. It’s important to have tactics ready to explain, but that’s for the interview, not in your resume. A resume is a marketing document to invite a conversation about your career. Detailing tactics in a success story is too much for a resume.
Instead, use SAR (situation, action and result). Here is an example of each:
STAR: “Redefined and launched new go-to-market strategies by creating four working groups to change outdated strategies. This increased annual global revenue 84% in the first year.”
SAR: “Redefined and launched new go-to-market strategies that increased annual global revenue 84% in the first year.”
In the STAR example, the phrase “by creating four working groups to change outdated strategies” adds too much detail. It obscures the first-year results. The STAR model focuses on the outdated go-to-market strategies, whereas in the SAR model, the focus stays on the action and the result.
The SAR result: bigger impact in fewer words. It gets right to the point by showing the results: 84% the first year.
Be ready to share your tactics in interviews, not a resume.
Step 3: Include the right metrics for clarity and impact.
Adding metrics to success stories can be challenging. But in every story, there’s a metric that increases the impact. Here are three metric categories to make it easier: time, volume and money.
Think about the time your success story saved. Another time metric is the number of months, days or hours you or your team focused on a deliverable.
“Saved our marketing team over 200 hours a month by improving the approval process.”
“Our team invested over 500 hours to deliver a detailed financial model.”
Consider volume metrics, like units made or the number of tasks or projects. Another volume metric is hiring and growing a team.
“Consistently closed over 500 customer tickets a month, an increase of 60% above team average.”
“Improved quality control resulted in 50% fewer product returns.”
“Doubled team size from 6 to 12.”
It’s easy to focus on revenue or money made. But also think about money saved.
“New product generated $1 million in the first six months.”
“New process saved over $100,000 in the first year.”
Remember, you can combine metrics to increase the power of your success story. It’s common to include a unit of volume after a time or money metric. It shows how quickly your success story had an impact and the speed it was implemented. Also, money metrics have greater impact when a time metric is included.
Success stories are the heart of your resume and job search. Combining the fixed, improved, created model and the SAR model with metrics makes your stories meaningful and powerful.
Mike Manoske – Certified Career Coach, Recruiting Leader, Job Search Program Leader at the Wharton Executive MBA Program in SF. Private Coaching as well.