If your work history reads like a series of HR job descriptions, ask yourself these questions about each position:
Was it a new position? If so, what problem was it created to solve? How did you solve that problem?
If it was an existing position, how did you do things better than your predecessor(s)?
What was the climate in your department when you arrived? How did it change during the time you were there?
What obstacles did you face? How did you overcome them?
What other impacts did you have?
Did the job evolve, even if there was no formal promotion? Did that evolution increase your value to the organization?
Then ask yourself questions about the individual bullet items in your resume.
For each bullet item, ask yourself, “So what?”
Let’s say you’re a training professional and you developed a career advancement program for managers. So what? Did it result in a significant percentage of the participants being promoted? Or get them better ratings in a 360-degree evaluation? If so, that would make it a much more impressive bullet point.
Don’t be daunted if not every question leads to material for the resume. When I’ve written resumes for clients, I’ve asked maybe 50 questions or more, and if 10 of them lead to great material we’re doing really well!
Here are some other great questions to ask yourself:
What unique strengths and skills make me a better candidate than others?
Do those show up in my resume?
Do they show up in the first 20 seconds, or only if I patiently read the whole thing?
What’s the first impression my resume makes, and why?
If you’re shopping for a resume writer, find out how they will ask questions–via a written questionnaire only, or by interviewing you and discussing your answers? A more conversational process usually leads to better communication and better results.
Great resumes are made from great questions! (This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.)