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Top Ten Resume Tips: #9—Be Specific

You’re reading #9 of my Top Ten Tips for writing your resume. Read all the other tips by clicking on each link:

1. Be focused.—2. Be strategic and selective.— 3. Be succinct.— 4. Stand out from the crowd.— 5. Show results. — 6. Write it right.— 7. Make a great first impression.— 8. Be interesting. — 9. Be specific.— 10. Tell your story.


Consider these 2 job description sentences—which do you find more memorable?

  • Fully fluent in all HR Generalist practices, including recruiting and hiring, onboarding, payroll and benefits administration, HRIS, regulatory reporting, employee engagement surveys, retention strategies, and employer branding.
  • Transformed home-grown HR practices into a professional Human Resources organization that supported company growth surge from 25 to 500 employees in a highly regulated industry amidst a war for talent.

I think you’ll agree that the second one is more interesting and more “sticky” because it gives you specifics that you can recall and relate to.

The first sentence is a list of professional competencies. The second is a story of a specific achievement that demonstrates all of those competencies. We know the environment surrounding this job experience. We can make educated assumptions about actions required to complete that achievement. We know, precisely, the size of the organization when he or she started and the size now.

Of course, when writing your resume you will want to mention your competencies. But try to avoid simply listing your activities. Transform an activity to a success story (an achievement) and it will serve double duty: communicating both what you’ve done and how well you’ve done it.

Also, as illustrated in the “good-better-best” examples in Tip #5, use specifics even when you can’t cite hard results. Details and numbers give readers something to latch onto, to relate to and recall. They help readers understand the environment.


  • Bolster your job descriptions and achievement bullets with specifics rather than simply writing broad, all-encompassing competency statements.
  • Specifics make your resume items memorable and distinctive.
  • Use numbers and other details even if you can’t cite hard results.

BONUS TIP #11: GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT. Professional resume/profile writers are widely available for all professions, all levels, and in all fee ranges. Not only will we take an objective, employer-centric view of your career, we’re experts at uncovering the themes, threads, and success stories of your career that will sell your value.

Please email me (louise@louisekursmark.com) if you’d like a complimentary review of your resume, a few specific suggestions, and a proposal for a rewrite.

Next: #10 Tell Your Story

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