Are You Selling Yourself Short on Your Resume?

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Modesty? There’s a time and a place for it, but trying to land an interview for your dream job is certainly neither.

Your resume is your personal marketing tool. If it’s not selling your skills, achievements, and experience effectively, it’s putting the brakes on your job search.

Want to know if your resume is selling you short? Check out the following tips:

Are You Holding Recruiters’ Attention?

Research shows recruiters look at a resume for an average of six seconds before deciding whether or not it’s a fit. Those six seconds are your opportunity to make the recruiter believe your resume is worth reading in full. Have you included a powerful personal profile and core skills section at the top of your resume? If not, you’re selling yourself short.

Your personal profile should be a short, punchy paragraph that highlights who you are and what your key strengths, achievements, skills, and experiences are. Don’t underestimate the importance of this section. It could be the difference between an interview and a resume that ends up in the bin.

Next, your core skills section should be an easy-to-read, short list of your top skills. This is your opportunity to prove to the recruiter that you’ve got what it takes to carry out the role. Check out the job description. The skills you list in this section should be directly relevant to the role.

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential employer and read your personal profile and core skills section out loud. If it sounds a little run-of-the-mill, try again! The section should make it clear that you’re a valuable, skillful, and exciting candidate.

Are You Being Too Modest?

Remember all those amazing skills, qualifications, and achievements you’ve gathered over the years? Now is the time to show them off. Even if you’re super humble in your day-to-day life, your resume is your chance to brag (politely). Just make sure your statements are relevant and true, of course.

A great way to ensure you’re showing off your skills and keeping the reader engaged is to switch from the passive to the active voice. Take a look at these examples. Can you see how explaining your achievements in the passive voice distances you from your accomplishments?

Passive: A promotion was awarded to me after only 6 months.

Active: I was promoted after only 6 months.

Passive: The company’s social media followers increased by 80 percent within 4 months of being managed by me.

Active: I increased the company’s social media followers by 80 percent within 4 months of assuming management duties.

If you want to land interviews, be sure to include lots of action words like “achieved,” “discovered,” “generated,” “identified,” “tested,” and “upgraded.”

Are You Including Numbers?

You can’t make a bold claim in your resume and expect a recruiter to be impressed if you don’t quantify it. Using numbers will help recruiters understand your skill level and seniority.

Which of these statements sounds more effective?

“Leading a team” or “Leading a team of 25 across 3 countries”

Including figures is much more likely to impress a recruiter. Including numbers also shows that you’re results-focused. If you don’t highlight specific results, the recruiter may as well assume you haven’t actually generated any.

What size was the budget you managed? How many locations did you work across? By how much did the company revenue increase after you were hired? What was the size of the team you managed?

Don’t worry: If you’re in a more creative role, there is still room for figures. How many news releases did you write in a week? How many shares did the video you filmed receive? How many people read your articles? By how much did the bounce rate decrease after you redesigned the website?

Are You Proving Your Impact?

All applicants can claim they’re good at something — but only the best prove it. When listing your previous roles, don’t just list your responsibilities. Recruiters are interested in specific achievements and the results you generated for the employer.

Did your negotiation or project management skills help the company save money? Make it clear. Did your time-saving skills lead to extra resource availability? Jot it down.

Give examples of problems you faced and how you solved them, backed up with facts and figures whenever possible. Lastly, if you received any significant industry recognition or awards, make sure to highlight them, too.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of UK-based CV-writing advice website StandOut CV.

By Andrew Fennell