While building Huttle, I’ve seen a lot of really good resumes and some really bad ones. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that bad resumes tend to include simple bullets that don’t provide enough information.
But, once I talk to someone with a bad resume and dive deeper on their job experience, their explanation of what they did is usually really impressive.
The problem is they can’t have this conversation with a hiring manager if they never get to the phone screen! All of this amazing context is lost, and this great candidate gets dumped into the “not qualified” pile because their resume failed them.
After working through a bunch of resumes (including my own), I’ve found that resumes with bullet points that answer three simple questions are the ones that get someone to the next round of a job application and, more often than not, get someone hired.
The Three Questions
1. What did you do?
This is the question everyone usually answers because it’s the most obvious one. People who only answer this question tend to have resumes will bullet points like…
Ran social media at [insert company name]
The problem with something this basic is that it doesn’t tell me much of anything.
Sure, I understand that you used social media, but I probably could have figured it out especially if your title is something like “Marketing Assistant” or “Social Media Manager”. This bullet doesn’t tell me that you know how to use Facebook or Instagram. It doesn’t tell me if you ever pulled a report using tools like Google Analytics or Mixpanel. More importantly, it doesn’t tell me if your work was even valuable to the company.
If you have too many of these basic “what I did” bullets, you’re going in the reject pile.
2. How did you do it?
If you add some information to your bullet point that addresses the “how” then you’re giving the reader a little more to go off of. Using our previous example, a bullet point with the “how” might be something like…
Ran Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at [insert company name]
So, now I know that you’ve used at least three of the most popular social media platforms. Plus, if I’m a recruiter hiring for a social media job and I’m using a keyword crawler to filter candidates, my crawler picked up your resume because you have the keywords I’m looking for like “Facebook” and “Instagram”.
But, your resume was picked up with 100 other social media managers so I don’t know how you’re different or whether our experience is more valuable to my company than the other 100 people.
And, since I only have time to phone screen 20 candidates, your application isn’t significantly better than the other 80% of applicants. Next stop…reject pile.
3.What was the result?
This is the most question that I see most new job candidates miss. The reason why it’s so important is because it gives me — your fake hiring manager — a sense of what I will get out of hiring you, which is really the whole point of submitting a resume.
Because, even though your resume is a one-page document that’s all about you, hiring managers and recruiters will use your resume to get a sense of what value you can bring to the company. And, because you’re going to be competing against so many other job candidates, your resume needs to prove that you’ll bring more to the table than anyone else.
If we make one more edit to our sample bullet point, it might look something like…
Ran Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at [insert company name], resulting in a 200% increase in followers year-over-year and 100% increase in app downloads attributed to social media
Or, another version might be…
Ran Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at [insert company name] and made the #GoOrangeYourself hashtag viral for one week
In the two examples, one focuses on a performance-based metric that I value in marketers, but the other focuses on a viral tactic that I value in brand marketers.
In both examples, a recruiter gets a sense of what you did, how you did it, and the most valuable output of your work (growth, virality, optimization, etc.), and if you include bullets like these for every single contribution you made for every company you’ve worked for, I guarantee you’ll have a resume that warrants a second look.