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The Purpose and Importance of Your Resume

I saw a great article in the Wall Street Journal that I wanted to highlight, “Fine-Tuning Your Resume for Maximum Impact“.  It really focuses on the important aspects of your resume. I’ve been thinking a lot about this because I’ve spent a lot of time looking at resumes over the last 2 months and helping friends to focus on what’s important. Your resume is a sales brochure that should entice the reader to want to talk to you. It should give the reader enough information about you to understand your unique talents and experience and should convey your understanding of your value to the business.

Many resumes I read describe people’s activities but not what they contributed to the business. As people become more senior they start to craft their resumes around business objectives and measurable outcomes. I’ve said many times on this blog that there are only two reasons that people pay us money, to increase revenue or decrease cost. Oh, sure, there are infrastructure roles that are more difficult to measure their contribution but there are ways.

I work with engineers a great deal and they often struggle with estimating their contribution. I have heard many of them complain that to estimate their contribution is not honest, that it is often immeasurable. This is not true at all. I have worked with many to make good faith estimates about both their relationship to the total revenue of a product or the likely cost savings of features relating to operational improvements. Engineers struggle with the lack of preciseness but they have to understand that good faith estimates are honest and do indicate an understanding of their value and relationship to the business.

Remember that our jobs are “responsibilities” not a series of tasks. Successful resumes must reflect our understanding of why that person was paid and how much return on investment their salary was. You have to map out the story you want to tell and have it reflect your understanding of business and your role in it. Once you’ve mapped out your story and have developed a solid resume, outsource the function to a professional expert. Once you know you’re story have the experts create the final copy.

2 comments to The Purpose and Importance of Your Resume

  • Erik Alberts

    Could not agree more. The way I’ve learned to think of resumes is that their goal should be to land you an interview.

    This means that the resume should frame your contributions at just enough level of detail to make the potential employer want to bring you in for an interview to learn more. This means keeping things high level and focusing on what you achieved, but not how you achieved them (interviews can cover this information).

    Any chance you could post the link to the WSJ article you mentioned?

  • Devin


    Click on the highlighted text in the blog post. That is the link

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