Question: I have recently moved, and it has been tough finding work. I started looking for work back in April. What can I do to enhance my resume and land a job?
— Trying to Stand Out, South Bend, IN

Answer: So, what can you do to make sure your resume is selected from a stack that could be 400 deep? That’s the challenge when it comes time to writing your resume.

The key is to make sure you write an accomplishment resume as opposed to a job-description resume.

Focus on Accomplishments

This is the single biggest mistake that virtually all job seekers make: Most people write job description resumes. In essence, they describe not only what they did, but what anyone would have done. Here’s an example:

Sales Representative, Szabo Industrial, Minneapolis, MN, 2003-Present

  • Sold manufacturing components to clients throughout the Midwest
  • Developed and maintained strong relationships with all customers
  • Created call lists and scheduled in-person visits
  • Managed personal budget and prepared reports

Now that may sound good, but the sad fact is that every sales rep in the history of Szabo Industrial — or any company for that matter — did those exact same things. The recruiting director will not say, “Wow this guy was a sales rep and he developed relationships with his clients — let’s get him in here.”

The key to a great resume is to focus on what YOU specifically accomplished. What did you do that was unique, special, different, or distinctive?

Define Your Accomplishments

Think about your accomplishments — both in terms of scope and results.

Scope: How big? How much? How many? How often?

Results: Did you grow sales? Did you save the company money? Were you recognized for your achievement? Did you create something new?

As you can guess from these questions, you get accomplishments through numbers, numbers, and more numbers. You want to be as specific as you can in everything you write.

A Better Example

Let’s look at a new version of the sample resume. Same person, same job, but a very different resume.

Sales Representative, Szabo Industrial, Minneapolis, MN, 2003-Present

  • Sold $35 million in industrial products to more than 1,200 clients throughout the Midwest
    • Ranked second out of 21 national sales reps
    • Exceeded company-mandated sales goals by 19%
  • Personally secured more than 350 new customers through dedicated cold calling and in-person visits
  • Managed a budget of $75,000 annually — decreasing spending by 18%
  • Prepared dozens of comprehensive summary reports delivered monthly to national VP of sales

Sounds quite a bit better, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you want to hire this person? I know I would.

Here’s a great evaluation tip: If what’s written on your resume can be written by the person who held the job before you or after you — rip up your resume and start over.

Good luck!

Brad Karsh is the president of JobBound, a career consulting and resume writing firm. One of the nation’s leading job search experts, he’s author of “Confessions of a Recruiting Director.”