Jaw-dropping resumés




You have a challenging job. You have a lot of responsibility. You work hard— often longer hours than you would like. There's a lot riding on your leadership to make things happen. At the end of the day, when the dust has settled and you reflect on your decisions, actions and their impacts, ask yourself these questions: What have I achieved—or am I achieving—that is truly noteworthy? What is my impact to the project, organization or company? In other words, do your actions foreshadow a great résumé? Are you making the difference you want to make or need to make?

Leadership is not about the ability of those around you to lead; it's about your ability to lead despite what is happening around you.

I have reviewed countless résumés over the years. Most of these résumés had one thing in common: They were void of truly noteworthy accomplishments. They did not inspire or make my jaw drop in awe. They begged the question: How can a person work so hard for so many years, yet have achieved so little that is truly noteworthy? But it happens to most people, to most “leaders.”

Leadership is not about the ability of those around you to lead; it's about your ability to lead despite what is happening around you. Your résumé should show how you consistently have a major positive impact on your projects and organizations.

Answer this list of questions to find tangible accomplishments to build a really jaw-dropping résumé:

  • Do you make your clients look good?
  • Do you make your organization money or boost profit margins?
  • Do you mentor others to achieve noteworthy accomplishments?
  • Do you make your bosses look good?
  • Do you accomplish the near impossible?
  • Are you consistently reliable in achieving the challenging objectives handed to you?
  • Do you change the landscape for those who follow after you?
  • Do you save or create jobs?
  • Do you go after and secure new opportunities?
  • Do you win awards for saving your organization's proverbial butt?
  • Have you established processes that are now standard operating procedures?
  • Would your absence be seen as a notable loss to the organization or company?
  • How has your presence and involvement made a difference to the bottom line?

Now take your answers, step back and ask yourself, would I be eager to hire this person? If not, why not? In other words, what's wrong with this picture that you would like to change?

This exercise can be quite telling and perhaps not necessarily a story you want to hear or confront. But your reaction to this reality check can have a profound impact on the rest of your career. It doesn't matter whether or not you're looking for a job or even a promotion. You need to decide whether you really want to make a difference.

There are two major groups of people in an organization or company. There are the sustainers—the 95 percent of people who maintain the current momentum. And there are the trailblazers—the remaining 5 percent who are moving the organization forward, pushing needed change and making a difference on a larger scale. These scouts arrive first and clear a path for others to follow.

Sustainers are not bad for a company, quite the opposite. They represent the foundation, the core, for implementing the products, services and results that sustain the company. But without the trailblazers—the visionary risk takers—the sustainers could find themselves out of a job.

Your new résumé should show which group you belong to. It should enable you to see what you're leading and how well you're leading it. PM


Neal Whitten, PMP, president of The Neal Whitten Group, is a speaker, trainer, consultant, mentor and author. His latest book is Neal Whitten's No-Nonsense Advice for Successful Projects.





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