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Powerful Resumes use PARs and SARs

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Is Your Resume About Results?

Your resume is not about you. It's about how your experience and skills can help the potential employer. Your resume needs to demonstrate how you have been effective and how you have helped previous employers. Past performance is the best indicator of future performance and the best way to get hired is to convince someone that your past performance is great.

Write about what you've accomplished,
not just what you've done
  • Doing something: "Developed PowerPoints to use in lessons."
  • Accomplishing something: "Developed lesson PowerPoints that made difficult subjects easier to comprehend."

The importance of this distinction cannot be stressed enough. Everybody goes through the motions, but not everybody is good.

The best way to do this is with PARs and SARSs

PARs: Problem - Action - Results
SARs: Situation - Action - Results

PARs and SARs provide details about specific achievements.

1. Describe a problem or situation.
2. Action - Explain what you did to deal with the circumstance.
3. Results - Describe the payoff.

On Functional or Chronological/Functional resumes, lead with 3-5 PARs or SARs. On Chronological resumes, use 1-2 per job.

The order of Problem/Situation, Action or Result is not important. Clarity and powerful writing is. Lead with action verbs. Here are some examples:

Transformed a disorganized distribution center into an efficient operation by completely revamping the layout, which saved the company $600,000 in reduced inventory requirements and shortages.

Increased convention revenue by 150% and profits by 200% by creating a strategic marketing plan that resulted in the recruitment of record numbers of attendees and a record percentage attending paid seminars.

Developed a financial model that accurately projected sales within 7% for 38 consecutive months. Result: Maximized ROI in inventory.

Recruited technical employees during a labor shortage through networking, saving thousands of dollars per recruit compared to using agencies.

Have a great PAR/SAR to share? Want an opinion on one you wrote?
Post them to the PARS & SARS forum.

Use Metrics - Be As Specific As Possible

Every one of the above examples uses metrics. The weakest is the last example that could be more specific, but it is still better than no metric.

  • Weak: "...spending less per recruit..."
  • Better: "...saving thousands of dollars per recruit..."
  • Best: "...saving $4,000 per recruit..."

You don't have any PARS or SARS? You're wrong.

Everybody has PARS and SARS, even if you have the kind of job not normally associated with achievement. Even the smallest achievement can be expressed impressively. What, you really have no achievements? If you just happened to be around when something positive happened, you have a PAR/SAR. While we most often don't recommend it, even negatives can be turned into PARS and SARS.

A SAR that leverages a company achievement

The SAR: Maintained a great rapport with customers on a delivery route. Had the lowest customer attrition rate of all drivers in the company while gaining 15% additional customers.

How many other drivers were there - two? How much better was the attrition rate - one? How were the customers gained - did the company just spent a gazillion dollars on a new marketing campaign? The reality may not have been impressive as it sounds, but it is still all true.

A SAR that expresses standard performance as an achievment

Let's say you were a dishwasher, you could probably say this: "Achieved a dish breakage rate of less than .1% in an environment where broken dishes were considered an unnecessary expense." This means you broke less than 1 dish out of every 1,000. Even if your predecessor had a better rate of less than 1 out of every 5,000, your SAR is true. You could have even been fired for excessive breakage, but you have stated the truth!

A negative turned into a PAR

The situation: You worked in a job that required teams of two to complete tasks. Eventually everybody refused to work with you because you were constantly cracking obnoxious jokes and you usually smelled due to showering only once every two weeks. The only way for you to keep your job was to put in 13 hour days to get projects completed on time.

Here's your SAR: Increased personal productivity over 50% and completed projects on deadline despite the sudden lack of availability of other employees for support.

Okay, that one crosses the line, but if that circumstance can be turned into a PAR, you definitely have circumstances that can be a PAR or SAR.

These examples are a bit extreme. Use PARs and SARs to spin, but do it honestly. Not only is integrity important, if you can't discuss it in the interview or have it survive a background check, it will hurt more than help.

Have a great PAR/SAR to share? Want an opinion on one you wrote?
Post them to the PARS & SARS forum.

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