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Limit The "By" In Your Résumé

From Career Tips, 2010 Volume 7, July 2010

In the last issue, I talked about a common mistake in elevator pitches, introductions, and emails, where someone starts out with an engaging statement, and then takes away from it by explaining how they accomplish that result - the "by" statement.

Now let's examine how this applies to your résumé.

First, what's the purpose of your résumé? - To get someone to want to meet with you. (Or, I would argue, to serve as a strong leave behind.)

What's the best way to achieve that? - By leaving the reader wanting to know more.

The more "by" you include to explain how you achieved certain results, the less likely you are to achieve your goal.
The "by" starts to answer exactly the questions about which the reader wants to know more.

This becomes a balancing act: - If I don't include any "by," the reader may lose interest because there is no demonstration of anything. - If I include too much, the reader isn't left wanting to know more.

For example, look at this statement:

Achieved 90% conversion rate by developing detailed training guides for new prospects, conducting in-depth 3 day training workshops, identifying, logging and working with technical staff to resolve all data issues that arose, and seeing the work through from initial installation to successful implementation.

This isn't bad, but it provides a lot of detail. Instead of an emphasis on the result - the 90% conversion rate - the statement spends a lot of time talking about all of the things done to achieve that conversion rate. I can change that emphasis like this:

Guided new prospects through training, implementation and data issues, contributing to 90% conversion rate.

Now I leave it to the reader to ask me more about that training, etc. that led to the outstanding conversion rate - I leave them wondering exactly what steps I took to achieve such a great result.

Some might argue that it might be important to that employer to know that they can conduct effective 3 day training workshops, have a talent for developing detailed training guides, etc.

OK, if you feel those specific points are critical to get me interested in talking to you, go ahead and emphasize them. But think about whether you might get even more interest if you split one or more of those points out to their own bullet points, linked to another result. This would again create that balance between the results and the detailed actions required to achieve them.

For example, perhaps you could have a separate statement, like:

Developed and conducted detailed 3 day training program consistently rated by customers as critical to the success of their system implementation.

This converts one long bullet with an emphasis on detail into two shorter bullets with a greater emphasis on results.

So my advice is to go back to your résumé and re-read each bullet point and statement. Carefully examine each to see how you can minimize the "By" and maximize the room for the reader to want to know more.


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