A resume that’s light on details can sink you to the bottom of a recruiter’s pile of applicants. Are you jotting down just the basics about your jobs, internships, or volunteer activities? Or, are you providing compelling, even granular details that bring your experiences to life as a recruiter reads about your work history and community service?

Recruiters and hiring managers are hunting for job candidates who can communicate skillfully and persuasively. As they read your bullet points, they want to see 1) how you put your problem-solving skills into action, 2) examples of how you prioritize and manage tasks, and 3) metrics that prove you are a goal-oriented team player.

Your resume is the first and most significant way for you to share the depth of your background. Be brief, bold, and captivating.

Three Types of Resumes: Good, Better, Best
To help you see the specific differences between a “good,” “better,” and “best” approach to writing about your work experience, let’s look at three examples that all portray the same internship.

Type 1: Surface-level Resume

Marketing Intern
Inner Giant Company, Los Angeles California
September 2019 – December 2019

  • Supported marketing department
  • Worked with data analytics
  • Emailed sales representatives

Type 2: Job Description Resume

Marketing Intern
Inner Giant Company, Los Angeles California
September 2019 – December 2019

  • Responsible for meeting marketing deadlines
  • Assigned to analyze customer data
  • Helped raise attendance at sales meeting

Type 3: Achievement-based Resume

Marketing Intern
Inner Giant Company, Los Angeles, California
– Web-services and social media agency with 200 small business clients nationwide
September 2019 – December 2019

  • Coordinated a 3-person team that produced 10 online brochures over 3 months for 5 clients and improved the company’s client retention by 20% over the previous quarter
  • Analyzed 50 customer satisfaction survey responses and identified 2 ways to improve a client’s website with 1) larger click-through boxes and 2) more logical navigation
  • Created database of sales representatives and used it to mail/merge invitations and improve email marketing, resulting in first-ever 100% attendance at annual meeting

The best version is the Achievement-based Resume. It communicates compelling, measurable tasks tied to the organization’s goals. For example, it’s clear that the marketing intern did not improve the company’s client retention by 20% on her own. However, the marketing intern was coordinating the activities of a 3-person team that did!

Coordinating means making calls, sending email reminders, keeping up the project log, and similar administrative tasks. You might include those tasks if they match the duties described in a job posting you’re applying for. But, the more significant enhancement is accomplished by thinking through the “why” of those tasks and connecting them to the results the company achieved. That’s how the candidate showcases an impressive depth of thinking. The candidate also shows pride in being a team member.

Next Steps
Now look at the draft of your own resume.

  1. Evaluate which type of resume you have now. Compare it against the examples. Is your resume: 1) Surface-level, 2) Job Description, or 3) Achievement-based?
  2. Look at each bullet point in your resume. Add details so the recruiter can see you working at each job. What problems did you solve? What specific actions did you take?
  3. Tie what you’ve done to achievements of the company, department, team, group, or cause. Why did you do each task? What happened as a result of what you did?
  4. Wherever you can, add numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts. How many people did you interact with? What improved and by what amount?