Find Your Dream Job, Episode 312:
How to Write a Value-Based Resume, with Pamela Leone
Airdate: September 8, 2021
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
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Employers hire problem solvers. So when you show the value you created in past jobs, you stand out from your competitors.
Our guest today says that a value-based resume is one of the best ways to document your accomplishments.
Pam Leone is here to talk about how to write a value-based resume and the difference it can make in your job search.
Pam is a certified career coach and the president of Impact Coaching.
She joins us from Roseburg, Oregon.
Well, let’s jump right into it, Pam.
Let’s start with definitions. What is a value-based resume?
Yes, a value-based resume is a marketing document that a hiring manager will see, and the hiring manager- think of them as the buyer, and you are the product. So as they’re reviewing that marketing document, the first thing they want to know is that this person can do what we need to get done.
And you say it’s a marketing document. What do most resumes look like? Aren’t they selling the candidate?
Yes, they are. But many times, people just list their skills on the resume. What makes your resume stand out is that you, first of all, customize it to the job you’re applying for. And I don’t mean customize by using colored pink paper with fragrance like Reese Witherspoon did in Legally Blonde. What I mean is, take the time to highlight the skills and qualifications most relevant to each job posting. And you want to take those duties, those skillsets, and show how you brought value to the company through the use of those skillsets and duties that you had.
For example, if the job requires strong customer service skills, and you have the skill, share how you increased the number of customers or how customer satisfaction rates were improved. Or let’s say you’re an HR leader, and you’re applying for an HR role; you can show how you utilized your skillset by measuring the uptick in employee engagement, or the reduced turnover numbers, or the new hire numbers. So quantify your main points that you’re making by using percentages, some sort of data, a dollar amount to make it a value-based point on your resume.
So begin with the idea that this is a marketing document. Talk about your skills. But what distinguishes a value-based resume from other resumes is that focus on results. Is that right, Pam?
Yes, you want to quantify the value you brought to the table using stories. Let’s say, for example, because – and the reason I say using stories with data and dollars and percentages is because people remember stories. That is what stands out to people when they’re talking about another person they interview. They’ll remember your stories, and if you could roll in your accomplishments in a measurable way, in a story format, they can remember that. Because people are – hiring managers see hundreds of resumes come through, but if they see points that stand out that they can easily pull out, they don’t have to sift through and decipher what something means; that will help your resume stand out.
Pam, you work with coaching clients all the time. Do you find that most applicants use a value-based resume?
I am always rewriting somebody’s resume. Because they just list their skills and the duties, and so what you want to do- and another formula I give my clients to change that is using the formula CPR.
So what that means is, what was the challenge? What was the process you used to figure it out? And what were the results?
So you can also bullet those pieces of information under your job titles by including that formula, and again, it makes it concise; it gets right to the point of what the hiring manager wants to see. They see, okay, you met a challenge. What was that process you figured out? And what were the results? You will always be asked that question in an interview, and if you highlight it on your resume, that brings you leaps and bounds further than the person who says, “Well, I do customer service, and I keep the books, and I answer the phone, and I run this function, that function.” So use CPR. The Challenge, the Process of how you figured it out, and the Results.
So talk about results, use stories to illustrate those examples, and include numbers and other quantifiable data, and use that CPR approach. When you share these methods with your clients, Pam, what objections do you hear back?
So one of the most common objections, Mac, is they don’t remember their accomplishments. They don’t remember – they can remember the list of their duties and skillsets, but they don’t remember their accomplishments. So one of the aids in helping to create your resume is to constantly keep a journal, so to speak, or a file with emails that were complimentary of your work. Keep notes on pivotal conversations you had where you were influential, either in whole or part of new policies, procedures, ideas that were implemented. It’s much like when we were in college, and we wrote term papers, and we gathered the research first, and had a pile of papers that we gleaned all of the information from and then put it in order. That’s what your resume will be like. It will be a compilation of your stories and accomplishments if you keep good records, and again, most people don’t think about that. They don’t think about, “Oh, I’m going to record this accomplishment,” but it’s a very good best practice to get into.
Even if you love your job, even if you don’t have any desire to leave, because you never know if you need it for a promotion or if you want to change roles in the company, but obviously, especially if you want to change jobs, just keep a record, keep a journal of the smallest of things.
Like yesterday, I received an email, “Thanks for being so positive in the meeting.” That would be an example of something I would save. Because when it comes to writing your resume, you’ll have a log, a journal, a memory of what your accomplishments were. I’ve interviewed so many people who work in companies for ten, twelve, fifteen years, and you ask them, “Okay, what were your accomplishments?” And you get, a lot of times, the deer in the headlights look because people don’t go to work every day listing all their wins. They go to get their job done and go on to whatever the next thing is.
Pam, what do you do when you see that deer in the headlights look? You’re working with a client, they have been successful, and maybe they’re ten, fifteen years into their career, and they didn’t keep the journal, they didn’t save the “atta boy” notes, or emails, or maybe annual reviews; what happens next? How do you help that client talk about their accomplishments in a value-based resume?
Well, that’s actually a very fun part of my coaching job. I take them down memory lane. I ask them, “Okay, so what was your favorite part of your job? What do you remember when you first came on the job? What were your highlights? What was a hard part for you? What was your low point?” And from those answers, we can craft some of the accomplishments or some of the wins and turn those into value statements.
But it is a big part of coaching someone who is wanting to develop a resume. I worked with a lady who was in a position for thirty years, and we did that exact thing. We said- I asked her, okay, what did you love about your job? And a lot of times, over thirty years, your role changes. You add skills, you change departments, and so she was able to highlight some of her favorite things. Some of the most exciting moments. The things that she hated, and sometimes the things that you hate, are situations that you helped solve a huge problem for, and so it’s not – you don’t just want to gloss over the hard parts. You want to dig into those because a lot of times, those are solutions that you were a part of that came out of that and were a result of that.
Well, let’s pause there, Pam because we’re gonna take a quick break. But when we come back, I want to talk more about how you finish that research and then how you turn what you learn, whether it’s because you kept records or you’re doing the kind of exercises you just outlined, into the value statements that you are gonna put in your resume.
So stay with us. We’ll be back in a moment, and when we return, Pamela Leone will continue to share her advice about how to write a value-based resume and the difference it can make in your job search.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Pam Leone.
She’s the president of Impact Coaching. She’s also a certified professional career coach.
She joins us today from Roseburg, Oregon.
Pam, before the break, we were talking about how to write a value-based resume, and you were sharing examples of how to collect information, either because you kept records or you go through an exercise with a coach like you or on your own to identify what you liked about your job, and what you might have gotten done.
Any other research tips you have that you like to take your clients through besides the ones you outlined in the first segment of the interview?
Yes, there’s another practice that I have my clients go through, and it is practicing your answers to your TMAY- Tell Me About Yourself question. You will always get that question in an interview. You don’t want to ramble. You want to be succinct.
There’s another part of that exercise where I have my client imagine they are in an elevator, and the CEO of the company they want to get hired into steps in with you and asks you, “Why should we hire you?” What would you say?
So you don’t want to have the deer in the headlights, you don’t want to stutter, you don’t want to go on about your kids, and your dogs, and your cats, and you don’t want to do that. You want to make sure it’s a two-minute elevator pitch that encapsulates who you are as a professional.
Again, you’re not defining yourself by your relationships. Not, “I’m a mom of two kids, three cats, and a husband.” And oftentimes, the reason I highlight that is because, oftentimes, women will go right to that. They will define themselves by their relationships. So that’s just a side note. So on your two-minute elevator pitch, you want it to talk about – you want to express who you are as a professional. So you want to highlight, say, for example, you say, “I”m an impactful HR leader. My primary career trajectory has been helping organizations get to the next level, and I’ve done this by A, B, C.” Done.
How do you take that information, Pam, and apply it to your value-based resume? That’s a good statement to have in your pocket, particularly when you’re taking those elevators up and down. But how do you translate that into resume text?
A lot of times, I have them put it in the summary right at the beginning of their resume. It’s the same version, a two-minute elevator pitch. It’s a written version of that, and you want it to be, again, succinct and create a picture of who you are as a professional.
You mentioned preparing for the “tell me about yourself” question. What is the structure that you recommend to your clients that they follow? Do you have an outline similar to what you shared for the elevator pitch?
Yes, and to quote Simon Sinek, “Know your why.” I often ask clients, “What is your purpose?” Meaning, what is your purpose in wanting to get this particular job, or what is your purpose in your career? So we kind of walk through that, hash through that, wrestle through that because a lot of times, people don’t even know what their purpose is.
“Well, I’m getting a job to pay the bills.” Okay, great. That’s the reality of it. But what is your purpose for being in this industry, for example? Why do you want to be in the medical industry? Why do you want to be in the retail industry? Why do you want to be in the HR function?
So I help them to think through what their purpose is because, in that, will help set a base, a solid foundation for their answer, and creating their mission also, in there, helps them to think of you know why they’re doing what they’re doing. So know your purpose and your mission is very helpful in creating your two-minute elevator pitch.
And, we were also talking about having that answer to the “tell me about yourself” question, too. Is that the same approach, then?
Yes, one will be in written form in the summary of your resume, and it will also include your professional history a bit, a summary of your professional history. For example, if you’ve been in- well, the example I just used before about, “My career trajectory has been primarily helping organizations get to the next level.” So somebody might say that if they were working with startups, or if they were an operational person, the COO, or in some type of manager, any kind of manager can use that type of phraseology because if you were a manager in a company and you helped them grow, that can be retail, that can be medical, that can be any of the trades. So looking at your career as a whole, and this is obviously for older career professionals. But if you’re younger, then you probably want to stick with your mission and purpose that you want to have throughout your career. What are your hopes and dreams? And formulate that in your summary of your elevator pitch.
Terrific. And then what about that earlier research you were talking about? You’ve either looked at the records you’ve kept, or you’ve gone through that exercise of thinking about what you accomplished in past jobs. How do you turn that information into value statements in a value-based resume? Pam, what’s the next step there?
Well, if you look at – okay, so let’s say I’m interviewing a client, and I ask them, “What was your favorite part of your job?”
“Well, I was the top producer last year.” “Okay, what made you the top producer?” “Well, I sold the most widgets, or I hired the most people,” and so, you want to get down to the details of it. So if you were the highest producer in revenue, you want to quantify that. But it stemmed from what that person’s favorite part of their job was. Well, they got a reward for highest producer and then, we back up from there. “Well, why were you the highest producer?” “Because I sold the most sponsorships.” “Well, how did you do that?” “Because I was tenacious, and I followed up.” So those are characteristics that you want to highlight. I am a tenacious salesperson with excellent follow-through skills, and that reflected in being the top producer in 2020.
How do you sort through which results to emphasize when you’re creating a resume? Does this come back to the needs of the employer? What’s your best advice there?
It depends on what job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a sales position, that’s – those are easy to quantify because your – it’s based on the revenue you generate. If you’re applying for an HR function, it’s hard to measure the nature of function because they’re typically not a revenue generator. However, they can reduce costs significantly. So you could talk about the reduced turnover, or the new hires, or the employee engagement increase. So it depends on the role you are interviewing for, what they value most. If it’s customer service, if it’s retail, if it’s medical. Where, if it’s research in the medical world, and if you’re, for example, I was just placing somebody in medical records, they need to be accurate. There needs to be a high-efficiency, high accuracy rate in their ability to take down data and input data. So you don’t want to have a lot of errors there. So it depends, again, on the role you’re applying for and what’s valuable to that employer.
What about the rest of the resume, Pam? We talked about the summary statement and the value statements that describe accomplishments at past jobs. Does a value-based resume have other sections beyond that that might look different from a traditional resume?
Well, the rest of the resume is mainly the facts of who you are. Your education, and you don’t have to go back to kindergarten, right? You want to put your most recent education or your highest education. Any volunteer work; you don’t need to put every single volunteer position you’ve ever had. Look at the volunteer work you did, and which one would seem the most valuable to this organization? Say, you volunteered for the Alzheimer’s association; that might be, that actually is valuable to any organization, if you ask me.
But look at any connections in the volunteer work to the organization you’re applying for, and put down, you know, I would say, three- two to three- volunteer positions you’ve had, at the most. Again, with your education, you don’t need the whole history of your life. Again, the same thing with your job history, you don’t need- that last five to ten years is probably perfect. You may, depending on the profession you’re going for, you may have to have a full-on history, but that’s very rare that you would have to, you know, list every single job you’ve ever had in your whole life.
And then, with regard to references, you don’t need to put references on your resume because they will ask you for your references at a later date. Again, with regard to- this is a little bit off the topic of the question you asked me- but I wanted to fit it in here. With regard to your resume, make sure your LinkedIn profile aligns with your resume. You don’t want them to – because they will look you up on social media. So all your platforms, your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, you want to make sure they all align, and they’re all consistent, and if you have any questionable things on your Facebook, you might want to take them down because they will look at that. So align your LinkedIn profile with your resume and your other platforms. Make sure it’s consistent with who you are and what you’re about. That’s part of building your brand, but I won’t get into that.
Alright. Well, terrific. It’s been a great conversation, Pam. Now tell us, what’s next for you?
What’s next for me? I work with businesses and individuals, helping them to create teams that everyone wants to work on. We spend a lot of our time at work, and we spend a lot of time with coworkers and I – my passion is having people be excited about going to work and being on teams that people look up to, that are inspiring, there’s synergy. So I teach workshops based on the DISC assessment tool and the various areas of being effective in the workplace, productive conflict, creating an agile culture, and creating team awesome. Creating team awesome is for managers.
Well, I know listeners can learn more about you and your services by connecting with you on LinkedIn. That you encourage people to go there and you invite their connections, and I hope they’ll mention that they heard you on the show.
Now, Pam, given all the useful tips you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to write a value-based resume?
Remember your accomplishments and value the work you’ve done in the organization you’re in and that you have been in. Don’t undersell yourself.
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Next week, our guest will be Jonathan Javier. He’s the founder and CEO of Wonsulting. It’s a career services company with a mission of turning underdogs into winners.
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This show is brought to you by Mac’s List. Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson writes our social media posts. Our sound engineer is Will Watts. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo. This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.