You’ve heard it before: hiring managers are impressed with numbers. That’s easy for someone in sales or finance, you may think. But how, exactly, are you supposed to impress anyone if you deal with people instead of figures?
Since it’s so difficult for many jobseekers in helping professions to think of things to brag about, often they don’t do it. And as a result, their resumes can be boring. Yep, so unimpressive that they don’t catch a hiring manager’s eye, and end up in the recycle pile instead.
So what’s a teacher or medical professional* or social worker to do? Helping students or patients or clients may be just part of the job, but the secret to setting yourself apart from other jobseekers is to find the ways you do that job better or more efficiently than those around you. And then brag about it.
You don’t like to brag? Trust me, you’ll need to venture out of your comfort zone for your job search. It’s okay, actually expected, that you tout your accomplishments in your resume.
If you need some help getting started, consider your answers to the following questions for each job you’ve held (and write those answers down!):
Why?- Why were you hired for the position? If you were hired to meet a particular challenge that your employer faced, then considering the ways you’ve met or exceeded your employer’s expectations regarding that challenge may give you something you can brag about. Perhaps you were hired to teach low-performing students, or to address high turnover in a nursing department. Were you able to improve the situation?
What?- The answers to these questions can yield all sorts of accomplishments worth bragging about. For example: What do you enjoy the most about your job? What are you most proud of? What do your coworkers and boss say about you? What is unique about how you do your job? What have you done to increase your responsibilities at work? Hopefully, you’re starting to see a theme here. It’s all about what you do for your employer to make a difference… and not necessarily to the bottom line!
Still coming up empty? Here are a few more questions to think about: What teams have you been a part of? What special projects have you worked on? What have you done to improve communications, procedures, efficiency, etc.?
How many?- Yep, this is where the numbers come in, even for someone who deals with people instead of profits. Dig deep and find ways to quantify what you do. For example: How many patients/students/clients do you work with in a day? How many people are on the teams you work with? How many/what different types of diseases/injuries/problems do you treat/solve? How quickly did you learn complex tasks? What was the competition like to get into your program/field/position? How many people did you beat out to get in? What percentage of time do you meet or exceed a standard you are held to (for example, client satisfaction or student improvement or timely resolution of problems)? Estimations are okay, but get very specific if you can. If you don’t, your competition will!
How?- Once you’ve identified some of the things you might brag about, take a few minutes to ponder how you manage to do those things so well. Are you extremely friendly or knowledgeable or focused? Perhaps you manage impossible deadlines with grace and humor. Or maybe you’re the go-to person in your hospital whenever there’s a difficult blood draw. Whatever your strengths, those specific skills or personality traits that set you apart in the workplace can help set you apart on your resume as well!
Are you with me so far? I hope you’re feeling more positive about all of the ways you’ve done a great job for each of your previous employers, and more pumped up about finding the next one. Before you go off to flaunt all your wonderful skills and achievements on your resume, though, there’s one last part to this bragging bit that you need to know about… how to write about it! I’ll cover that, in detail, in Part Two, my next post.
Meanwhile, if you need a bit more help defining your strengths or finding things to brag about, feel free to reach out to me.
Kristin S. Johnson
CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, 360Reach Analyst
Profession Direction, LLC
* Working with medical and healthcare professionals is one of my specialties. In fact, last year (2014) I was honored to win the Best Medical/Healthcare Resume, 2nd place TORI (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award from Career Directors International. You can see that resume here.
Did you notice what I did there? I used a number to brag about myself a little bit.