Lindsay Mustain has looked at a lot of resumes in her more than a decade in talent acquisition.
“Literally a million,” she says. The former Amazon recruiter is now the CEO of career coaching company Talent Paradigm and has seen candidates include some mind-boggling elements to their resumes — like stickers and a picture of themselves holding a shotgun.
But there’s one mistake she sees jobseekers make over and over again, what she calls giving “Miss America answers,” or ones she’d imagine hearing in a pageant. These are simple statements that don’t give much insight into what candidates actually accomplished on the job. It’s happening from the junior level “all the way up to the C-suite,” she says, and it’s preventing jobseekers from standing out.
Here’s what Miss America answers are and how to avoid writing them.
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Don’t write ‘a glorified job description’
When it comes to your resume, you want to mirror the language of the job description to the extent that it portrays your experience accurately. As you do, however, avoid general statements about the tasks you took on.
“I had stakeholder meetings with people” is an example of a Miss America answer, says Mustain. These kinds of descriptions don’t give a concrete sense of how you were able to move your team forward. They’re “like a glorified job description,” she says, adding that, “you just look like somebody who’s filling a seat.”
Instead of listing the tasks you were given, quantify and list your accomplishments.
“If somebody is fixing tickets on a help desk,” says Mustain, as an example, “I’ve solved 30 customers’ problems a day” is a good metric to start with. You can take it even further, though, and think about what you were able to accomplish in a year. Thirty problems a day, 20 days a month, 12 months per year is 7,200 problems solved altogether.
The “more metrics and analytics you can add to your resume, the more impressive,” she says.
‘Your eyes go straight to the numbers’
Quantifying your accomplishments is not just a matter of looking impressive.
Recruiters only have a few seconds to dedicate to your resume. They’re likely “handling somewhere between 15 to 25” job openings at once, says Mustain. “The average applicants per job is 250, which means they’re dealing with tens of thousands of applicants.”
The benefit of quantifying your accomplishments is that recruiters’ eyes “go straight to the numbers when we’re reviewing,” Mustain says. They’ll know how much value you added to your previous employers immediately.
Bottom line, if you want to move forward in the interview process, your resume has “got to be results-based,” she says.
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