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‘Spin’ Your Résumé

Play up the positive, reframe the negative

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in Workplace Communication

Just as public relations pros give a pleasing “spin” to their clients’ news stories, you can craft a résumé that spotlights your strengths. Your goal: Make it easy for potential employers to view you and your background in an appealing light.

Spinning, of course, is not the same as lying. You do not want to fabricate information or exaggerate. But you can choose certain words and phrases that reinforce your best selling points. Here’s how:

Address perceived negatives head-on. Don’t ignore obvious problems with your work history in the hope that others will ignore them too. Instead, place events in the proper context. Examples: If you’ve hopped from job to job, insert a sentence in your cover letter that says, “As a result of my experience with a wide range of jobs, I’ve concluded that I’m ideally suited to. . . .” If there’s a gap between two jobs, explain what you did during that time: “From March 1994 to September 1994, I enjoyed the first break in my employment after 12 years of continuous service. During this time, I enrolled in training courses to expand my technical skills and volunteered for a local nonprofit group.”

List quantifiable achievements as bullet points. Rather than composing a paragraph that describes all your accomplishments, list each specific feature as a separate bullet. Choose your verbs with care to emphasize the action you undertook. Words such as orchestrated, launched and invented sound better than ran, began and devised.

Add a “highlight” line to each job. Many candidates are so proud of their past accomplishments that they insist on inserting every single thing they did in their former position. A better way: Call attention to an overriding triumph by providing a one-sentence highlight for each job. Ideally, each highlight should relate in some way to the position that you currently seek.

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