Writing a good résumé is challenging under the very best of circumstances, but in today’s highly competitive employment market, deciding how best to sell oneself to a potential employer is even more of an effort. All job seekers know that it is absolutely critical to make sure their résumé stands out from the many that find their way to the hiring manager’s desk. Setting oneself apart from the masses can be difficult, especially when many job seekers possess the exact skills and expertise that you are attempting to market. What does one do?
As a Professional Résumé Writer, I review résumés of a whole host of career seekers from a wide array of professions everyday. Lately, I have been seeing job seekers with a tendency to exaggerate their skills and duties in very subtle and completely unnecessary ways. What I am referring to could be likened to old men and their ‘fish stories’ about the big one that got away. While a big fish may have actually escaped the hook and line of a skilled fisherman, those who hear the telling of the story are probably wise to doubt the ‘bigness’ of the fish described.
While job seekers are not likely to tell such fish stories, many are given to a similar sort of exaggeration with words and phrases like all or all aspects of and even solely responsible for. For example, a résumé might include the following statement: managed all aspects of daily operations of San Francisco branch. Another résumé might state: solely responsible for planning and executing corporate events. I have seen statements like: managed business development endeavors for all new accounts. The popular adage, “less is more,” applies here.
Good résumé writing employs an economy of words. Each of the above statements can be written more simply: Managed daily operations of San Francisco Branch. Planned and executed corporate events. Managed business development for new accounts. These statements seem more appropriate as they do not leave the reader wondering if the job seeker indeed did everything, as the overstatement of job duties suggests. Now, there are certainly instances where an employee does carry a lot of responsibility and plays a very key role in the success of an organization. I am not suggesting that these job seekers should downplay their contribution so as to ‘hide their light under a bushel basket.’ I am merely suggesting a measure of caution to avoid appearing like one who has difficulty sharing credit or even worse, is a control freak.
Highlighting one’s accomplishments and achievements appropriately communicates a potential employee’s value to a new employer very effectively. Creating a section of Career Highlights in a résumé provides the job seeker with a forum for describing the breadth of one’s contribution. Similarly, in the job interview, candidates can describe the positions they have held and convey the extent to which they were involved in various aspects of the business. While selling oneself is of paramount importance in today’s job market, a little bit of exaggeration goes a long way.