Writing Effective Resume Content: Tell The Story

Effective Content: Telling A Resume Story

ByHeather Lipman


“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”

- Thomas Berger


Writing effective resume content is about telling a story. So, if you want to catch an employer’s attention, let’s make it a good one!

As a resume writer, I’ve been forced to hone the ability to politely (yet frequently) interrupt my clients in order to get what I want. My ears are fine-tuned to key verbs which indicate breadth and scope of impact are just around the corner.

Every action has a reaction so if you “executed”, “designed”, “led”, “created”, “managed”, “coordinated”, etc., your efforts had a direct impact on the business.


Direct impact = key contribution.

A simple strategy to unearth boast-worthy achievements is to consider the before and after story. Before I did ______, the company looked like _____; after I did _______, the company looked like ______.

Ask The RIght questions

Now of course we want to sound like a person and not a robot so let’s get creative:

I once worked with a client who stated during our consultation that he, “created a new training manual”. This is gold! And a perfect opportunity for me to interrupt and discover more:


1)    “How long did it take to bring new employees up to speed before the new manual?”  

2)    “What was the turn-over rate prior to the new manual and coaching?”

3)    “How did the operation look after the new training was implemented?”


At this point, resume clients start realizing the details they were leaving out. Actual quantifiable numbers help to tell the story in a way that matters to the audience reading the resume.

Numbers are on your side

For this client, their seemingly incidental training manual did the following:

1)    Improved onboarding time from 30 to 15 days

  • I bet the boss appreciates an employee’s ability to provide excellent customer service during week 2 rather than week 4; that’s double the opportunity for customer retention and new business development. If you have daily sales goals, do the math =)

2)    Reduced annual turnover rate by 50%

  • If the average cost to hire a new employee is $7,000 – the opportunity to cut those costs in half certainly deserve a bullet under your “selected contributions” section!

3)    Reduced on-site injuries from 30 per year to less than five

  • What’s the cost of one work-related injury? Not cheap! Now multiply that by 25 to gain a sense of total cost savings

Woah, now we’re cooking - I told you my job is fun!

At this point most clients are so impressed with their own experiences that they happily await the next interruption – there is a method to my questioning madness. So you’re welcome, and thank you for your patience.

I’m after the story hidden behind your current and prior duties. To present a hiring manager with a resume of your duties is no more meaningful than presenting a hiring manager with his or her own job description for a similarly titled role.

Hiring managers advertise what needs to get done. Your resume needs to advertise how well you can do it.

Of course, a well-written resume encompasses other key items. Always check yours against a 6-point checklist before submission and remember, the product is truly unfinished if it doesn’t express how your effectiveness in those duties directly impacts the business.


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