Your HR Resume – How To Make It Compelling, Stand Out & Impress The Hell Out of Hiring Managers!

By Alan Collins

If you’ve been sending out resumes and you’re getting no responses, chances are your resume is the problem.

As you know, most folks screening HR resumes are squeezed for time and typically only spend 15-20 seconds per applicant.

This means your resume must immediately grab them by the throat and sell you as a powerful and compelling candidate…and illustrate that you’re worth contacting for further interviews. Sadly, most HR resumes don’t.

Even if you aren’t currently in the job market, failing to know how to best highlight your achievements is a weakness that can absolutely destroy your HR career.

When it comes to performance appraisals, promotion consideration, even day-to-day work assignments, being a master at how to influence the perception of you as a performer is key to ensuring that your career in HR reaches the heights you desire.  And that’s what a powerful and compelling resume can do.

With that in mind, here are 12 suggestions that will make your resume stand out from the rest of the bunch.

1.  Forget the gimmicks.

Using quirky font sizes, strange layouts, or clever graphics are no-no’s. While a bizarre resume format may get you a few more seconds of eyeball time during the screening process, it may also prevent your resume from making it through electronic sorting and filtering tools used by the bigger corporations.

So focus on more of your “selling points” and less on “curb appeal.” Compelling “selling” points include your  results, your impact on the organization, your skills and your ability to manage and lead…at the very minimum.

2.  Juice up your accomplishments by quantifying or monetizing your results.

Hiring managers are NOT looking for job descriptions or activities on your resume.    Job descriptions are simply boring descriptions of the responsibilities of the HR positions you have held in the past. Today, that simply won’t cut it.

The language of business is dollars and numbers. Everyone wants HR folks who deliver impact and produce results. So you need to find a way to energize and pack your resume with quantifiable results and the dollars that you MADE, SAVED, and ACHIEVED in every position you’ve held in HR. Then, include those totals in your resume and put them up front, where they can’t be missed.

EXAMPLES:

To differentiate yourself from 95% of your HR competitors, whenever possible include phrases like:  “cut costs by xx%,” “completed the project under time and under budget,” “used technology to improve HR service to business clients,” “did more with less,” “reduced management time spent on HR issues by xx%” and the like.

3.  Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.

HR folks who can lead are always in demand. If you haven’t led and you’re seeking a role that calls for leadership skills ask yourself how many times you were a leader of a project, a subproject, a team, or even a meeting/event.

It doesn’t matter if you were never formally appointed a leader or given a leadership title. If you’ve successfully led others, you should reference leadership as one of your attributes.

Feature leadership terms throughout your resume, including sections covering your experience, education, and extracurricular activities.

EXAMPLE:

4.  Brag about your awards and honors

Crafting your resume is not the time for modesty. Stick your chest out and mention all recognitions received for outstanding work. Don’t forget shared and team awards, or informal awards created by local managers. Include awards received both in school and on the job.

EXAMPLE:

5.  Name drop.

HR pros who have the opportunity to work with key people and executives are assumed to be among the best. So name names. If you worked for or with a famous individual, highlight them. Also include enough information so that the reader will know their importance.

EXAMPLE:

In addition to mentioning the names of key individuals, you should also mention the names of well-known and innovative firms you have dealt with including notable customers, strategic partners, vendors, or consultants.

EXAMPLE:

6.  Show you can think like Steve Jobs.

In a volatile, changing global world, few things are more important than innovation and coming up with new ideas. List new ideas or innovations you developed, even if the innovation was not implemented. Show that you are an innovator, an outside-the-box thinker and often among the first to try new things.

EXAMPLE:

7.  Drop in a few impressive buzzwords.

Business people love functional/general business buzzwords, and merely using them reveals that you are current and up-to-date.  Buzzwords should be included in descriptions of both your experience and education.  However, just don’t over-do this.

EXAMPLE:

8.  Show you can be proactive.

If you can pinpoint problems before they become severe, you are quite valuable. List situations where you identified a problem that no one else saw and show them that you thrive in situations where there are lots of problems, issues or dilemmas.

EXAMPLE:

9.   Manage money — not yours, theirs.

Demonstrating that you were given financial responsibility shows that management trusted you. List any time, even if it was brief, where you managed a budget, were responsible for cash or other major spending decisions

EXAMPLE:

10.   Sell. Sell. Sell.

No matter what your HR job, the ability to sell your ideas and influence others is extremely valuable. Demonstrate that you effectively sold executives, vendors, or owners on new ideas.

EXAMPLE:

Influenced our top HR vendor to alter their long-standing service level agreement and reduce costs of their annual employee benefit administration fees by 17% saving the company $2.6M.

11.  Showcase your global perspective.

You enhance your perception if you can demonstrate that you have a global perspective these days. Even if you don’t have formal international responsibilities, show that you have the capability of working with those from other countries…especially BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

EXAMPLES:

12.  Include impressive training courses, seminars and workshops.

In many companies, access to advanced training means that you are a top performer. Highlight training courses, seminars, workshops and any advanced training on emerging issues that you participated in. If you have taught training classes, even if they were informal, include that also.

EXAMPLE:

Some final thoughts

Your resume is a comprehensive marketing document that sells your your capabilities, skills, and accomplishments. It should be kept current and used not only when you’re job hunting, but also as a memory jogger when applying for an internal transfer, promotion, or completing a performance self-assessment.

If you find, as most HR folks do, that over half of these suggestions are not present in your resume, you have my permission to kick yourself in the butt for underselling yourself for all these years!

Got comments or additional HR resume suggestions, post them HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins was Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses. He is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of the HR best sellers pictured on the right sidebar of this blog.  His new book, WINNING BIG IN HR is now available on Amazon.

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28 Responses to “Your HR Resume – How To Make It Compelling, Stand Out & Impress The Hell Out of Hiring Managers!”

  1. Sahaj Joshi Says:

    Dear Alan,

    Good Article. I recommend all HR Professional to read this wonderfull articel.

    Keep Posting…

    Take Best Care.

    Sahaj Joshi
    Indore
    (India)

  2. Nagaraja D B Says:

    Dear Alan

    Excellent tips on resume writing.I had not mentioned my awards at School and colleges in my CV. Now I will..Thanks

    Look forward more such articles from you

  3. Alan Says:

    From Victoria Krayna, Founder/CEO at Lifestaging….

    Alan,

    Great article! RE: The language of business is dollars and numbers. As a career coach, I drive personal branding efforts – including resume and portfolio development, letters, CEO biographies, and personal websites for clients transitioning their careers to the next level. I use the S.O.A.R. [Situation / Opportunity / Action / Result] Method for resume writing and as an interview strategy.

    Examples of S.O.A.R. Stories:

    Renegotiated Contracts, Generating $400M Multi-year Savings. Operational and personnel cost of Vendor provided Maintenance and Software support at XYZ Company exceeded $550 Million annually. Renegotiated highest cost contracts. Implemented Vendor and Internal Performance “Report Card”. Realized annual cost reduction of $400M.

    Rebuilt Business, Catapulting Sales. Sales had declined sharply at ABC Company. Selected to take on newly created position. Defined industry marketplace issues and opportunities and defined subsequent sales and marketing strategies. Generated additional annual sales volume of $6M with margins of up to $1.5M.

    Restructured Maintenance Schedules, Saving Millions. The US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration was required to cut its National Defense Programs budget by 12% in FY06. Realized that Navy policy required costly maintenance procedures on equipment that no longer served national security requirements. Led a cross-organization team that identified, analyzed, and changed out-of-date policies, saving more than $20M.

    Planned and Executed Rapid Transformations and Optimizations. Choices Weight Loss accelerated expansion. Developed and executed growth plans. Hired, trained, and motivated individuals to increase effectiveness and achieve results. Established metrics for performance management. Directed creation of web presence, providing BMI calculators, nutritional information, and food and fitness journals. Reduced expansion cost by 2 Million.

  4. hope amatesiro Says:

    This is greater thanks for the information on how to stand out and impress the hirinh msnsger.

  5. Miranda R. Says:

    Dear Alan,

    Your article title and information is compelling, concise and precise for ALL professionals.

    I plan to read both of your books and refer to other associates.

  6. Anthony Ross Says:

    Very good information. Made mega sense. Methodical and valid.

    Thanks
    Tony

  7. Alan Burk Says:

    Alan,

    Excellent article, as always!

    Thank you,

    Alan

  8. Augie Melendez Says:

    Alan, Always great topics and advise, very accurate on quantifiable references , they indeed are instrumental in marketing your Brand. Real results in today employment space get attention. Your examples are practical and right on, encourage readers to give serious consideration. Thank you. well done !

  9. Sam Says:

    Hi Alan,

    This is on point and very true. I advice every professional to embrace this approach.

    Thanks
    Sam

  10. Big D Says:

    Excellent points with good examples.There is a downside to this approach with a multitude of HR hiring professionals. I am generalizing, but many Senior HR Executives these days are very nervous about their job status.There are several reasons for this but much of this phenomenon occurs because these folks are not strategic business partners. I have interviewed with many of these insecure people and it is apparent that they lack the ability to speak in detail about their business.

    Unfortunately, when they are confronted with an HR person, who is equally a business person and an HR pro, they get uneasy. In an interview situation like this, the key to success is to interview with the business people. You will likely hit a home run because you speak their language. Finding HR leaders who are not insecure and speak with data are rare. The key for your success is to find one of these people and companies that truly embrace HR as a strategic partner and get hired. Stay away from those HR organizations that claim that they are strategic partners but are not. The landscape is littered with them. You will not fit and will be miserable.

  11. Victoria Says:

    This is a good Article,please keep updating.

  12. Ayotunde ENIOLA Says:

    Fantastic article. Thanks

  13. Leslie Blazys-DeMerville,BSc, MSc Says:

    Dear Alan:
    Great advice as usual. However, for those of us who have not worked in large, Fortune 500 companies, and haven’t had this specific type of quantifiable experience, or can “name drop,” perhaps your next article can address this same subject on a smaller scale.
    Thank you: Leslie DeMerville, BSc, MSc

  14. Alan Says:

    Leslie, unfortunately there’s no substitute for quantifying your value. The job market is much too tight and the competition is far too stiff to shortcut this step. If you can’t clearly articulate and quantify your value, then you have no value…and you’ll lose out to others who can.

    The good news is that you don’t have to be in a F500 company to do this – it can be done in any organization of any size – just takes effort.

    Best,
    Alan

  15. Cheryl Rhodes Says:

    Hello Alan,

    Thank you for posting this article; it is very informative. I must admit my resume can use an upgrade incorporating many of your suggestions. Hopefully by doing so I will get better responses.

  16. Alecia Smith Says:

    Hello Alan,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I found it very informative, valuable and relevant. I look forward to incorporating this into my resume to track my personal accomplishments for performance reviews and internal moves. Please continue to shine your light in the HR community!

  17. Dale Harris Says:

    Alan, I love reading your suggestions, they are so insightful. I can see many missed opportunities on my part.
    Keep up the good work.

    Dale Harris

  18. Karey Hall Says:

    This is an excellent article! I immediately acted upon your advice and have re-created my resume. Now that I am in the market for a professional opportunity, I’m sure I’ll get some positive responses from recruiters. Thank for the much appreciated tips!

  19. Gordon Scott Says:

    Thanks for this article. I hope I am not the only one who is quickly updating my resume right now :)

  20. Monisha Says:

    Impressive, but I was wondering how those who are just about to step in to the world of HR (students) and those without prior work experience could make their resume just as interesting.
    I’ve just done one internship as of now and don’t have the kind of experience to quantify the results.

  21. Cazzborrow Says:

    Thank You Alan
    Having nearly completed a course in HRM as my third career experience, I found your advice very constructive and will use this valuable insight into updating my CV highlighting all my transferable skills.
    Thanks
    Caroline

  22. Shanmuganathan Says:

    Thanks a lot Alan
    This is one of the best article I have read about the resume. My resume becomes more attractive. This is really for those who are aspiring for HR career.

  23. Karlene Says:

    Very good article. Can be adopted by anyone.

  24. Ajay Sunke Says:

    Excellent. Useful and very important tips provided to preseent capability of person, which is looked by every organisation in globalised world.

  25. Kevin Says:

    Stellar article! The examples were on point , wonderful detail regarding how to position experiences .

  26. @civicark Says:

    Good read from Alan,thank you

  27. Gunasekhar Says:

    HI Sir,
    Thanks for your valuable advice
    Even we can Create a resume with the tips you have mentioned above and if the candidate can’t express the things due to poor communication, Can you kindly suggest some tips to improve communication to impress the HR folks.

  28. Jan Marsden Says:

    I thought your article was excellent, Alan. I took extensive notes and now reviewing my resume again to improve the look and feel and make sure it ‘packs a punch’ and draws attention from the chosen audience. Great read, thanks again.
    Jan Marsden

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