This week, I'm answering questions about highlighting personal contributions when your company or a product experiences success; what resume format to use; and how to start writing a resume for the first time in many, many years.
QUESTION: “I work on a lot of projects in my company’s marketing department. But, it’s difficult for me to quantify the exact impact of my marketing work. The products I support, have experienced tremendous sales growth, but it would be misleading to say that the growth is 100% attributable to the marketing campaigns. How should I speak to this in my resume?”
The good news here is that you DO have metrics. Using numbers, metrics, and quantifiable results in a resume is incredibly powerful. It gives employers a tangible way to understand your potential impact (value) on their operations. It also provides context and demonstrates scope (a $1M project is different than a $10k project, etc.).
Just because the metrics aren’t 100% owned by you, doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Let’s be honest, in most companies, success is a group effort.
In this case, I would mitigate your language a bit to clarify your role. For example:
Key contributor to Product X marketing campaign; supported 30% YOY growth in sales. Personally handled collateral design and agency management.
Led a team responsible for the complete re-branding of Product Y; product subsequently doubled in annual revenue from $10M to $20M in 2016.
QUESTION: “I have been doing a lot of research about resumes online. Some people say chronological is best, others say functional. I’ve also been reading about something called a “combined” resume. What do you recommend?”
Woah! Be careful who you ask about this…it could start a (very nerdy) resume writer fight! If you’ve been doing a lot of research, you have most definitely learned that there are many, passionate sides to the "chronological vs. functional" debate among resume writers.
But, if you ask recruiters and hiring managers (you know, the people you actually need to impress), they want to read chronological.
Humans are better built for understanding stories with clear timelines (beginning, middle, end). This is my preferred format, because it’s the format that works!
Does that mean you should never use the other formats? No.
There are rare circumstances where the functional or combined (part chronological, part functional) are best. However, I would definitely enlist professional help. Experienced resume writers know how to make these formats feel more chronological and more like a compelling story that will resonate with hiring managers and recruiters.
QUESTION: “I’ve been with the same company for 20+ years. In all that time, I was promoted internally without needing a resume. Now, it looks like I might be laid-off because of organizational restructuring. For the first time, I need a resume. How and where do I start?”
You’re not alone. I have had many, many clients in this exact same position and it breaks my heart a little. I know how scary it is to re-enter the job market (especially, today’s fast-moving, ever evolving job market).
I also know, that when you’ve been with a company for a long time, you probably felt like your job was secure, and therefore didn’t take all the steps to prepare for a future job search (tracking accomplishments, saving performance reviews, networking outside your company).
First thing to know, is that in today’s market, your resume doesn’t need to be a recount of your day-to-day responsibilities. Meaning, your resume shouldn’t look like a photocopy of your job description. Also, you don’t need to go back your full 20 years – 10 to 15 years is fine.
What you will definitely need for yourself (or your resume writer, if you choose to hire one) are accomplishments.
This doesn’t necessarily mean awards, it can mean anything you’ve done that has added value/made things better/had an impact. Think of projects you completed, processes you changed, staff you developed/promoted, an idea that was implemented. If you still have access to some recent performance evaluations, these can be helpful at jogging your memory.
Aim for 3 – 5 accomplishments per role for the last 10 years. Include metrics when possible (they’re powerful!). Increases in sales, profitability, market size, productivity…or reductions in processing time, labor resources, costs, etc.
The accomplishments for each position are the "meat" of your resume and the most important - so start there. Then, look for templates online to fill in the other details. You can also use my free summary template, to make sure your resume quickly captures attention.