Don’t Sell Yourself Short

7 Oct

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

It’s not a phone.

It’s a Cisco IP phone. Or maybe it’s a 10-line PBX system.

And you’re not answering the phone. You’re assisting clients or customers by answering customer service related questions and directing calls.

Think about the difference between telling an employer that you can pick up a ringing phone, and convincing them than you are the best candidate in that big stack of resumes. Answering a phone is a skill most children learned before they entered first grade, while wrangling a multi-line system with professionalism and courtesy is a valued skill needed in a busy office.

As an entry level paralegal competing in a tight job market for a place in that office, you must find a way to stand out as a skilled professional even if you’re new to the paralegal field. An attention-grabbing resume may convince whoever is screening those resumes that you have relevant work skills, even if your resume is thin in the actual paralegal experience area.

To create that resume, think about the things you have done well at previous jobs and start illustrating those skills. How? Instead of jotting down that you’ve answered phones, think before you write. Was it a multi-line phone system? Can you find out from a manager the volume of calls averaged per day? Take a look at the difference:

  • Answered phones


  • Operated a multi-line phone system to answer an average of 75 customer service questions daily. Politely and efficiently directed calls to 10 office specialists

You’ve figured out by now that this isn’t just about answering phones. This is about applying the same resume writing strategy to all of your skills. If you stocked shelves, did that include a routine to make sure your inventory was accurate? If you had a job where you regularly gathered data, how much data was there? What was the end result?

Did you create an Excel spreadsheet that enabled management to track spending in certain areas? If so, that sure sounds better than sticking to just one tired old line that says you can use Microsoft Office.

Quantify what you have done whenever possible.  If you’ve accomplished something that resulted in increased sales or efficiency, find out what the number is. If you don’t have access to those numbers anymore, then work your way through your resume quantifying what you can.

But remember: don’t over-embellish your resume. If it was a simple task, leave it alone instead of trying to cover your would-be employer with fertilizer. And likewise, don’t ever lie on your resume, cover letter, or application. Ever.

You already know to keep a resume to two pages at most. If you need to save valuable real estate on those two pages, consider dumping a mediocre “objectives” statement. Everyone knows you’re “looking for a challenging position at ____ that will utilize your ____ skills”. Those lines of space might be better invested in telling your next employer exactly what those skills are and how you can put them to work in your new job. Don’t sell yourself short when you have so much to bring to the table.

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