Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

By, 04/21/2014

Are you a dynamic, results-driven, go-getter who is self-motivated and thinks outside of the box? If so, bully for you—but you may not want to use those words on your resume. The biggest reason, in my view: they don’t show you anything. And when recruiters quickly skim through resumes, they look for something tangible. Anyone can describe himself as “results-driven,” but there is a big difference between setting up a lemonade stand on your street corner and making a few bucks vs. organizing a school-wide bake sale that raised $275 in two weeks, came in under budget, and exceeded expectations by $30—enough to buy a new baton for the band leader!

That doesn’t mean you need to provide detailed spreadsheets with your resume, but quantifying your accomplishments (in the active voice!) gives much more information than vague descriptors. Which resume tells a recruiter more: Jane “mentored 3 new hires” or John “is a proactive leader”? A recruiter would note that management trusts Jane to train new employees, a serious leadership responsibility; John might perform the same task, but you wouldn’t know it from his resume. Show, don’t tell, recruiters why you’re great and you’ll look that much more impressive.