How can you spice up your resume if your job is more about production, and less about strategy? Or, as one skeptic put it, when you’re someone who’s got “a real job, not a fancy one”?
“Even someone who works in the most mundane job on the planet can still explain how they excelled and why they’re better than the next guy,” says Don Goodman, president of IT-Resumes, a national resume-writing service based in Caldwell, N.J. “You have to prove that you’re a top performer or employers won’t even give you the time of day.”
Here’s how to do it:
Aside from content, format is the most important element in your resume. A crisp, easy-to-read document implies that you’re meticulous, conscientious and distinguished from the masses. “You have to appeal to the human eye first in order to get the reviewer to read the content,” says Peter Newfield, president of Career-Resumes, a professional resume firm based in Golden’s Bridge, N.Y. “Unless your resume is visually appealing, reviewers will take a quick look and just move on.”
Quality vs. Quantity
Production workers tend to list every conceivable task and activity because they harbor the misconception that volume is a substitute for proficiency. Newfield suggests leading off with a three- to eight-sentence career summary that highlights only your strongest attributes and competencies.
Quantify Your Activities
Did you support 35 users or 3,500 users? Have you coded 400 apps or four apps? Did the network have eight servers or 80? Using metrics and percentages to quantify and highlight your key activities and achievements will make your resume pop and help you better prepare for interviews.
“The first thing an employer wants to know is why they should hire you, so highlight the top five reasons and back up your claims with details so you don’t look like everyone else.” advises Goodman.
Are you the most proficient coder on your team? Do you resolve 95 percent of user issues on the first call? “Whether you’ve earned a reputation for coming in on time or deciphering complex stakeholder requirements, highlight those achievements by including a quote from a manager or peer in your resume,” notes Goodman.
Write a Powerful Cover Letter
Submitting your resume with a strong cover letter demonstrates your communication skills and provides the perfect forum to explain why you’re the best person for the job.
“A well-written cover letter is the difference between being average and exceptional,” says Newfield. “Because even production workers need to prove that they’re a stellar performer within the genre.”