Strengthen Your Federal Resume: Showing vs. Telling

Does your resume include unsubstantiated claims about your skills, knowledge, or abilities? One of the easiest ways to weaken your resume is telling hiring managers how good you are rather than showing them.

Do you describe yourself as an outstanding manager? A strong communicator? An effective writer? You may well be all those things and more, but you need to show the hiring manager how and why.

3 Examples of Show and Tell

Perhaps you are applying for a position that requires the candidate to perform complex analysis. If you state on your resume that you have an “Excellent ability to conduct complex analysis,” you have done little to prove yourself.

Rather than telling the hiring manager about your analytical abilities, show it by stating:

“Routinely use advanced and complex analysis techniques to gather and evaluate data, create comprehensive reports, and prepare recommendations for senior managers.”

Perhaps you excel at effective multitasking. You might be tempted to state on your resume that you have an “Outstanding ability to multitask.”

Instead of telling the manager about your multitasking, show it:

“Consistently demonstrated an outstanding ability to multitask by concurrently directing, and completing, more than 10 comprehensive research projects on time.”

You might state in your resume that you “have strong presentation skills.”

Instead of just making the presentation skills statement, create a more robust (and attention-getting) version:

“Routinely deliver formal and informal written and oral explanations of complex information in a manner understandable to diverse audiences.”

Think Verbs, Not Adjectives

When writing your resume, think skill verbs rather than adjectives.

Appropriate verbs such as created, developed, accomplished, improved, increased, reduced, and improved will pack a greater punch than adjectives like excellent, motivated, energetic, effective, and strong.

All too often, job seekers overuse these adjectives to describe their skills rather than demonstrate their accomplishments.

Bottom Line:

Show the hiring manager what you did rather than telling him or her what you claim.

Camille Carboneau RobertsAbout the author…

Job-Hunt’s Federal Job Search Expert, Camille Carboneau Roberts, established CC Career Services in 1989 to provide total career management services to help clients land jobs faster. Expert services include federal resumes, private sector resumes, military-to-federal resumes, and social media resumes and profiles. Contact Camille via email at, through LinkedIn, Twitter (@CamilleRoberts), or Facebook (CC Career Services).
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