Promote your uniqueness

BY SAMANTHA NOLEN Modified: February 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

The most common concern I hear from my HR clients is that they are puzzled as to why they can’t write their own résumé when they have reviewed thousands of résumés throughout their career. Just as with most clients I work with, often the candidate struggles when speaking openly about the value they have contributed, not knowing how to use, and not abuse, self-promotion.

When writing a HR résumé, be sure you are giving enough information to differentiate yourself from the other HR pros, knowing that the reviewer will likely understand your field very well so is looking a little deeper into what you did that was different than the norm.

50+ job seeker: While at this juncture in your career you probably have 25+ years of experience, it is important to present a strategic picture of what you have done in order to avoid being disqualified for fear of being overqualified or too expensive. With your objective in mind, review your experience and prioritize engagements, being sure to showcase achievements more so than responsibilities to reinforce the value of your experience.

Think about presenting about 10-15 years of experience, leaving earlier positions to fall into an additional experience subsection or omitting from your résumé entirely. Hiring managers do not expect to see every position you have ever held on a résumé, so be sure you are not writing an autobiography and instead developing a strong marketing document that strategically positions your candidacy based on your current career goals.

Salesperson: An effective sales résumé must contain quantifiers. Numbers jump off a page, and when significant, can be the differentiating factor. If your quotas are unimpressive, or if you had trouble meeting them, then quantifiers can be used sparingly, but there are almost always ways to incorporate numbers into a sales résumé.

If you worked with a smaller company, quantify your successes in percentages as opposed to dollars. Doing so will keep you in the running for positions in which you would handle higher volumes. I also find that some in the sales arena have never had solid goals and therefore think they don't have anything to measure their performance against.

If this is the case, compare the results you achieved with those of your peers, your competitors, or industry benchmarks. Lastly, if you just can't use quantifiers, maybe you have some sales-related awards you can showcase, comments from clients, or even pull excerpts from your annual reviews.

Administrative Assistant: The most common complaint I hear from administrative assistants is that they do not have any accomplishments to highlight. Most feel that they have played a supportive role and therefore cannot attribute any achievements solely to their efforts.

But I have yet to work with a client who didn't have achievements of some kind — increasing organizational effectiveness, performing their job despite limited guidance, or even helping others better perform their jobs by seeking out and taking on additional accountabilities. By showcasing where you have driven value for an organization, you will position yourself ahead of the competition.