"Just the facts, ma'am…" is the famous line attributed to Joe Friday on the old TV show Dragnet. But an Internet search reveals that what the character really said in an early episode was, "All we want are the facts." Recruiters, human resources staffing personnel, and hiring managers are like Joe Fridays: They just want the facts when reviewing your resume and conducting interviews.
Here are five easy ways sticking to "just the facts" can help your job search:
1. Use facts to stand out from the crowd. Often job hunters bemoan how difficult it is to be noticed. However, your chances for distinguishing yourself will skyrocket the more you provide understandable facts specific to your own work experience on your cover letters, resume, and during interviews. Don't be so general in your descriptions of your roles and activities that an employer can't understand what you have actually done. Don't just list your areas of expertise: Make each a bullet point where you relate your successes and accomplishments. The facts you provide demonstrate your value and distinguish you from the other people competing for your dream job.
2. Get rid of superfluous clutter and meaningless jargon. Forget about what you think you are supposed to say, and jettison all the stock phrases that will be regarded as drivel or fluff. Instead, let each resume bullet point tell a story that demonstrates what you have done, how you did it, and the results you attained. These detailed facts, when taken together, will best demonstrate how you're a match for the employer's needs.
3. Select the right facts: your successes and accomplishments. It would be accurate to covey your job description through a series of "Responsible for…" bullet points. But to do so says nothing about what you actually did, or how you handled your responsibilities compared to others who have held similar positions. What resulted from your actions? How did you contribute to increasing revenues, increasing productivity, or decreasing costs for your employer? If you can provide the answer to these questions, you will have conveyed powerful information that will describe yourself without haughtiness or self-deprecation.
4. Never misstate or make up facts. Resumes are fact checked as a matter of due diligence. No matter where you are in your career, it is imperative that anything you present as a fact be verifiable. If it is determined that you lied on your resume or in an interview, it is grounds for disqualification. If you're already on the job, it is grounds for termination.
Often, you may not remember or have access to specific numbers. But there are creative and honest ways to get around this. For example, if you know that your activities had a role in increasing revenues, but you don't have a specific number or percentage to cite, you can write something like, "Revenues were significantly boosted by doing XYZ."
5. Offer facts, not conclusions. Don't fall into the trap of making conclusions like, "I'm uniquely qualified /the best fit/ the perfect person for this job." Really? How do you know the qualifications and experience of the numerous other people you're up against? Your role as a job hunter is to provide information, and not to presumptuously usurp the judgment-making role appropriate for the hiring authority.
To be sure, it takes a fair amount of time and effort to recall all that you have done over a period of years, but that is your role as a job hunter. If you do it well, you will certainly become noticed for your accomplishments, and have wonderful stories to tell when someone asks you in an interview, "Tell me about a time when you…"
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.