Storytelling isn’t new to the resume writing scene, but it’s often wrongfully underplayed when writing job descriptions. With effective questioning technique you can dig out resume writing gold by uncovering the job seeker’s baseline from which all results were attained and challenges overcome. I call this the Job Position Hook. Luckily getting to that story only takes one easy step!
In this 5-minute video, I share:
- Description of the hook of connective tissue in a job description.
- Value-add that foundational details make to a job description, and therefore a resume.
- Simple questions to ask to uncover the foundational story.
Plus, the post includes below the video:
- Video transcript.
- Written list of questions, as well as deep-dive questions when you hit a blank wall.
- Before and after example of a job description opening paragraph on a resume (and the sample resumes themselves).
Watch the Video
A better way to engage readers at the beginning of each listed job description/inclusion is by starting with the challenge or goal of the position. This sets the stage for grabbing
interest and provides a point of reference for results.
- Avoid starting with responsibilities or generic overview (will sound like everyone else and get skipped).
- Avoid jumping straight into bullets and losing this opportunity to connect the reader to the accomplishments.
With each one of these questions you should be prepared to dig deep by asking sub-questions covering the, “with who, when, where, why, and how?”.
- What did you step into with the new job? Were there problems or challenges? Tell me about them.
- Was this a newly created position? If so, what were the expectations?
- Were you filling a position that had been vacant for some time? What challenges did you step into?
- Were you recruited to the position? If so, what were they facing that they wanted you on board? Tell me about the issues.
When you get nothing in response to the above:
– I understand it was an extremely successful organization and they wanted you to maintain the status quo. But, did you still find areas that needed improvement? Tell me about them.
– Did you see ways you could make improvements once you were settled into the position? Tell me more about this.
Before & After Job Description Resume Entries
The following samples are submitted solely for the variations in the job description text on the most recent employment position on the resume. They are otherwise somewhat dated in format, but having three great examples for the exact same candidate wasn’t something I otherwise could put hands on!
WEIGHT LOSS INTERNATIONAL – Marietta, GA
Managed all aspects of this weight loss center, which included handling operational challenges, staffing and supervision, customer engagement, sales, stock rotation, and customer service. Oversaw a team of seven.
After #1 – Cliff Flamer, 2nd Place World’s Best Resume Writer competition (2008)
Relaunched weight-loss club under new name six months after an abrupt closure that left aggrieved members mid-contract without explanation, all but destroying brand reputation.
View Resume >>
After #2 – Gayle Howard, 3rd Place World’s Best Resume Writer competition (2008)
Reputation for driving a highly successful profit transformation, prompted an offer to lead the revitalization and start-up of a previously failed franchise haunted by negative market and brand perceptions. The challenge: to meet aggressive revenue goals, market the new identity and approach, and win back skeptical customers left in mid-contract under the previous regime.
View Resume >>
After #3 – Laura DeCarlo, original final resume entry fictionalized from former client for competition
Recruited to recapture disillusioned clients and grow newly re-vamped company branch after original franchisees unexpectedly ceased operations. Directed all functions of sales, staff development, and day-to-day operations for this retail facility, with membership sales, to rapidly build a stable, competitive, and profitable market position.
(No sample resume available, as we fictionalized it into notes for the competition, but not into a new resume).
Read the Video Transcript
This video describes a way to make your resumes stronger and better, and that is put in your job descriptions that you’re including in the resume, what I like to refer to as connective tissue.
Here’s what I see in resumes even written by professionals: Quite often, they may have an overview paragraph and then they’ll have the results-focused bullets.
That’s great, but without some foundational details, we’re missing something critical.
Here’s a for example: You have a client and they’ve produced all these fantastic results and your bullets talk about the challenges, actions, and results they took; they’re metrics-driven, so it’s really value-added.
But, what if there’s a story behind what your client stepped into that’s missing?
That’s frequently what I see, this whole overarching piece that would’ve made something make even more powerful sense to the prospective employer.
So, all you have to do when you’re working with your clients gathering information (it’s easier, I find, to do in an interview, but you can tailor it to a questionnaire), is when you have a client answering questions about a position, you want to try to start with, “Tell me what you stepped into in this job?”
And they’ll always want examples. So you’ll say, “When you joined this company, was the position what you expected it to be? Was there a learning curve? Were you replacing someone who had been absent, like the role stood open for a certain amount of time? Were there goals that were set for you? Were there several challenges that you discovered when you went in there? Things to fix, optimize, revamp, and improve?”
In other words, you’re getting the lay of the land about the position, and it can be really amazing.
For instance, I wrote a resume, that landed me a 55 professional association contract for resume writing, for the CEO and president of this technology firm. She had worked with a professional before who previously held the contract and been disappointed. So they wanted to put me through the ringer and have me write her resume as a test.
So I’m picking her brain and I ask her these questions, and she’s like, “Oh well, the first thing is that it was a good old boys’ technical area and they kind of laughed and were like, ‘Status quo. This company’s already fantastic. You’ll never do better.’ It was like they threw down the gauntlet.”
And so now my client’s telling me, “The company was performing really well. There were no challenges.” And so if that’s all we went with, and all the results she had, it’s like, “Oh, she took a company that probably had all this room for improvement.”
But when we suddenly know that the connective tissue (the lay of the land) is that this company was kicking butt and told her she’d never do better but she still produced these amazing results, now that is an engaging story that sets the stage and makes the employer go, “Oh my gosh! So this lady, when we think we’re awesome, she’ll make us even more amazing, more profitable, more stable, more innovative.” So, obviously, it could be one or all of those things.
By asking questions to get your clients to set the stage of what they stepped into, your first paragraph absolutely transforms. It doesn’t become just a, “Here’s some info about the company and my overarching responsibilities.” It’s more now of an overarching challenge or goal or platform that now, when you look at the results, mean so much more.
So make sure you’re spending the time to ask the clients about the landscape of their job, “What did you step into? “What challenges did you face?” Use some of the examples I gave of things to tell them to get them thinking and then don’t worry, if they can’t think of them, as you’re picking their brain and going down the rabbit hole on the who, what, where, when, how, of their accomplishments, you’ll start to see a picture forming that will create that, again, amazing connective tissue and that story that puts everything into perspective with their accomplishments and results bullets.