When Polishing Your Résumé, Remember the Three Cs
Updated: May 5, 2020
In some ways, submitting a résumé as part of the job application process can feel outdated. Nonetheless, it’s still a major requirement, but gone are the days of simply preparing a boring regurgitation of your position description.
Employers may receive hundreds of applications per vacancy, and it’s your job to stand out from the crowd. This isn’t an easy task, as developing your résumé is an iterative and time-consuming activity that takes patience and practice. And while an expert can certainly help with fine tuning, it’s essential that you understand your strengths, skills, and overall career brand. If you’re unsure about how to define what you bring to the table, start by answering these questions.
Once you have a clear idea of the story you want to tell through your résumé, make sure it is comprehensive, cohesive, and compelling! Here are some tips to make sure you conquer the three Cs.
Comprehensive - Tell a Complete Career Story
This doesn’t mean that you need to tell the WHOLE story, but the information you include shouldn’t leave the employer guessing. To make your résumé comprehensive:
Provide pertinent and accurate details (i.e. month and year of employment, job title, employer, city and state, contact information).
List your current and past work history for the last 10 years in reverse chronological order.
Provide context—not everyone will be familiar with your employer or position.
Focus on results, not just responsibilities. What did you do? What was the impact?
Showcase your skills and talent by listing your accomplishments.
Be careful with adding side hustles and gigs—include them only if they are relevant.
Don’t forget your education, certifications, training, and volunteer work.
Cohesive - Guide Hiring Managers through Your Journey Your résumé should not feel disjointed. Even if you’ve changed jobs frequently or worked in different industries, you must tie things together. To make your document more cohesive:
Use clear headings and appealing, consistent formatting throughout.
Highlight core competencies and transferable skills, such as leadership and communication.
Focus on common threads between positions. This is how you convey the “who you are” and “what you do.
Lead with a concise summary or profile statement to further reinforce your career brand.
Compelling - Show That You’re the Best Person for the Job Again, hiring managers are combing through piles of résumés, and it’s not necessarily fun to read such technical—and admittedly kind of bland—documents. Try to make it as exciting as possible so that you get called in for an interview. To make your résumé compelling:
Make it action-packed! Use powerful words and verbs.
Avoid jargon and clichés.
Align your work with the potential employer’s mission, vision, and values.
Include awards or special recognition. Were you top salesperson or employee of the month? Was your team honored in some way? Brag!
Give a glimpse of your life outside of work. Do you coach youth soccer or serve the homeless?It’s great to share your community work.
If you’re writing your résumé this way for the first time, it can be challenging. Take your time and stick with it. It’s important for you to be able to articulate your own story, but ask for feedback or help with polishing it up. Once you make your résumé comprehensive, cohesive, and compelling, you’ll be amazed at the positive results.
Want more resources delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Karonica Paige is a copywriter and content strategist focused on storytelling and branding for sustainable and social impact businesses. She started her freelance writing career as a resume and cover letter writer, and continues to provide support for job seekers and career pivoters. Whether your audience is a potential customer or a hiring manager, Karonica helps you put best on every page.
Fatimah Pierce is a consultant, coach, and speaker with expertise in organizational, career, and program development. Through Hickman Rose Strategies, she assists clients with achieving their vision through systemic approaches. Her research interests are equity and inclusion in the workplace, mentoring and leadership, and social justice. She is passionate about helping minority women excel personally and professionally.