The perfect resume isn’t just a document that delivers a rote recitation of your job history, educational achievements, and basic skills. While an average resume often does little more than accomplish those basic goals, the perfect resume provides a potential employer with a much more in-depth look at your capabilities and potential for adding value to his or her company. To accomplish that goal, you need to effectively convey your key strengths in a way that convinces the hiring manager that you have the necessary tools needed to fill the company’s open position. But what are these key strengths, how do you identify them, and – most important of all – how do you convey that information in your resume?
Key strengths are something that go beyond your educational experience or actual work history. They are those intangible characteristics that you bring to any job, and provide the foundation and fuel for your success in the working world. They encompass your knowledge and skills, and help to define your abilities and true potential as an employee.
For example, you may have a natural affinity for technology that translates well in a wide variety of work settings. Or you may have a knack for communication, organization, or problem-solving. The key is to make sure that your resume accurately showcases those strengths so that the hiring manager can better understand the value you offer as an employee.
Before you can detail your strengths, you first need to be able to identify them. Think about your previous jobs, and those areas in which you felt most comfortable or had the greatest success. Chances are that your comfort or success can be traced directly to key strengths that made you the perfect person for those tasks. Make a list of your own strengths and weaknesses. Some common examples of strengths that could make you a better candidate for a job opening include:
Once you’ve identified your strengths, you’ll need to document them within the body of your resume. To maximize their impact, you need to ensure that you list the strengths most relevant to the position you’re seeking. And then you need to choose the right words to describe your strengths to your employer. Choose your words carefully, as they can and should be used not only in the resume but in your cover letter and eventual interview too.
Key Strengths could be either soft or hard skills. Some commonly-used words to describe various strengths can include words like:
Detail-oriented, adaptable to change, clear communication, customer conflict resolution, website content messaging, sales closer, creative thinking, technical troubleshooting, dependability, dedication, innovative design, efficiency, focused, technological proficiency, interpersonal relations, interviewing skills, waste identification, leadership, mentoring skills, motivational speaking, networking for lead generation, open-mindedness, persuasion, organizational skills, constructive criticism, team-oriented, time-management skills.
Try to find words that describe your level of strengths in those five key areas of concern, as well as an example of a time when you demonstrated those skills in your previous employment. Remember, if you list strengths on your resume and expand upon them in your cover letter, there’s a good chance that the interviewer will ask you about them during any interview. You should be able to quickly explain why you view these characteristics as strengths, and how they’ve benefited previous employers.
While you’re preparing to list your strengths, think about your known weaknesses too. Yes, your potential employer will focus primarily upon your strengths and positive attributes – but that pesky weakness question is bound to come up when you least expect it. When you’re asked to identify your weaknesses, be sure to have an answer ready. As you prepare for that question, remember several important things:
At the end of the day, it is critical to recognize that the key strengths you list on your resume can be every bit as important for determining the outcome of your job search effort as anything you include about prior work history and education. Employers want to know what they might be getting for their money, so play to your strengths and let them see that you’re the perfect candidate for the job!