Startup Resume Tips – Take your resume from Good to Great

Today we’re focusing on startup resume tips! The vast majority of resumes most startups see are weak because they describe the roles that the resume writer has worked in, but little about what they accomplished in the role.  I see this over and over again, across the hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes I’ve reviewed as a hiring manager and interviewer.

Your resume is a place to highlight accomplishments, not roles.

English: Mission accomplished! Arriving back a...

Mission accomplished!(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moving from a role-focused resume to an accomplishment-focused resume is probably the easiest way that you can take your resume from good to great – getting the attention of startup hiring managers in the process.  Resumes chock full of accomplishments with data and metrics to back them up show startup hiring managers that you’re someone who can get things done. After all, no one wants to be just another resume in the pile. (And if you still don’t believe me that startups are maniacally focused on metrics, check out this summary of research about data driven culture at startups – derived from over 368 respondents.)

Let’s take a look at a resume I recently reviewed which was definitely ‘role-focused’.  This person, a marketer, had bullets like the following:

  • Manage web content to ensure up-to-date information is displayed

After speaking with them about moving to a more accomplishment-focused resume, here’s what they came back with for that same bullet in the next draft of their resume:

  • Managed enrollment website; YTD the site has yielded $200,000 in revenue

Word for word, the second bullet is much stronger than the first – with biggest impact coming because we quantified the candidate’s contribution!   After all, if you were a hiring manager, wouldn’t you want to hire someone who helped generate revenue rather than the person who just “manages web content?”

Other metrics and data that can resonate really well with hiring managers reading your resume are related to growth or improvement (e.g. “Launched program that increased revenue by 200% while cutting costs by 50%”).

Always make sure that you’re doing your accomplishments justice by providing this kind of quantitative supporting evidence.

These are great startup resume tips, but what if I haven’t been keeping track of my accomplishments and the associated metrics?

One common complaint I hear when I push people to move to a more accomplishment-focused resume is that they don’t have these kind of quantitative metrics handy.

When you shift your resume from role-focused to accomplishment-focused, you’ll probably have to dig pretty deep into your memory banks to come up with some data to support your accomplishments.  Going forward, make sure that you log your accomplishments and the data or metrics associated with those accomplishments somewhere so that’s it’s easier for you to add them to your resume the next time around.

This doesn’t have to be hard. Just create a folder in your work email account where you store a copy of any kudos you or your team receives for a job well done. Then, come review time (or resume writing time!), you have a list of accomplishments at the ready to share with your manager.

Do you have any startup resume tips to share? If so, please add them to the comments below.

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John Gannon
I have over 15 years of experience working in the trenches at successful startups, high growth companies, and VC firms. During that time, I've managed, interviewed, and coached hundreds of people -- and I've worked in almost every business functional role, including marketing, product management, and business development.
John Gannon
John Gannon
John Gannon

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