Top Five Resume Writing Tips

Achievements Rule

To help hiring managers and recruitment consultants decide that you are worth inviting to an interview, your resume must demonstrate how you have added value.

Many people bore their readers by including long lists of their duties and responsibilities. Remember that the people reading your resume already have a pretty good idea about what your duties and responsibilities are. Whether you are a Finance Manager, Financial Planner, Marketing Manager, HR Manager, Construction Manager, IT Project Manager, School Principal, University Academic, Sales Executive, Director of Manufacturing, Mechanical Engineer or Systems Analyst, you are going to be doing the same kinds of things that anyone else in any of these roles does. Therefore, listing your duties and responsibilities does not differentiate you from anyone else. It does not tell the readers how effective you are.

To differentiate yourself, tell the readers of your resume what you contributed to the organisation, how you made a difference or what impact you had. Did you increase revenue, reduce costs, improve efficiency, streamline a process, increase market share, enhance an organisation’s reputation, increase productivity, improve quality, simplify a procedure, solve a vexing problem, lead a change program, improve reporting?

Whatever, you achieved or contributed should be included in your resume. Talk about what you did, how you did it and the tangible impact or benefits of what you did. You don’t always need to provide numbers. In many instances, you can’t. What you did might be difficult to measure in simple numbers or there might be numerous other factors that contribute to the numbers. Or, the impact of what you do might not become apparent for a long period of time. However, you must enable the reader to “get it”.

Some people think that if they say something like “Designed and implemented a management training program” they are talking about an achievement. They are not. They are talking about a process. An achievement has an outcome or a result that you can notice. If you introduced a management training program, indicate how that program improved management capabilities. If you designed a new process, indicate how that process reduced errors or costs or complexity. If you re-structured part of a business, tell the reader how the new structure made a difference.


Organisations want to hire people who can get things done under adversity or under difficult circumstances. They don’t want “fair weather sailors”. It’s easy to sell real estate when everyone in the market wants to buy. The best real estate salespeople still succeed during a slump. It’s easy to increase market share when your major competitor goes belly up. But even maintaining market share or increasing it by a small percentage is a significant achievement when faced with an influx of low-cost imports or the entry of a new competitor with deep pockets.

Therefore, if you had to overcome or address a significant challenge or solve a substantial problem or if you did something in a challenging environment, talk about it in your resume. Indicate the nature and scale of the challenge and what you did to overcome or address it.

Customise & Connect

The front end of your resume where you talk about what you have to offer should be related to the requirements of the role or kinds of roles you want. If you include a summary of your key competencies or areas of expertise, align it with the roles you want. Make sure your achievements are relevant to the opportunities you are pursuing.

If you are not applying for a specific role, but sending your resume to recruitment firms to ask them to consider you for certain kinds of roles that might become available, find advertisements for the types of opportunities that could interest you. Once you have seen four or five advertisements, you will understand the requirements of 90% of those kinds of roles.

Use Straightforward Language

The easier it is for the readers of your resume to grasp what you are saying, the more likely they are to read your resume in detail. If you force them to struggle through obtuse, complex and messy phrases and sentences, they won’t be bothered.

If you follow the pattern: what, how and so what, you will make the reader’s job easy. If you make their job easy, they will devote more of their fixed time to your resume at the expense of your competition.

Avoid using fluffy and meaningless words and phrases. Words like “dynamic”, “results driven”, “driven”, “self-motivated”, “seasoned”, “team player”, “hard working”, “proactive”, “innovative”, “motivated”, “thought leader”, “strategic” and dozens of these kinds of words are useless. They are vague and generic. They waste space. They tell the reader nothing. They can cause the reader to lose their lunch.

Instead, talk about your achievements, the value you added, the difference you made and the impact you have had.

Be Honest

Anything you say can be checked. If you didn’t complete a qualification, don’t say you did. If you didn’t lead a project, don’t say you did. If you weren’t the General Manager, don’t say you were. There are numerous high profile cases where people who fibbed or exaggerated in their resumes were fired or had to resign in disgrace. Their careers were kaput. If you fib in your resume, that recruitment firm will never, ever recommend you again for any of the dozens of opportunities you might want.

Some people change the dates of their employment to cover career gaps. It’s easy for an employer to check this. Some people use a more “impressive” position title than the title they had. Again, this can be checked. Some people present themselves as the main player in a big project when they weren’t. Just don’t do it. Treat the readers of your resume with respect. Assume that they intelligent. They usually are.

By: Tom Hannemann, professional resume writer @