Resumes: Writing about your skills

Your resume provides an overview of your experience and is often an employer’s first impression of you. Recruiters spend just a few seconds on average looking at a resume so it is crucial to use a format that makes relevant information immediately visible. A good resume can help you land an interview, but even minor errors can take you out of the running. Schedule an appointment with a CAPD staff member to ensure your resume will be effective.

PAR Statements

To demonstrate your skills and achievements, use PAR statements to clearly and concisely describe your experiences:

P: Describe the PROJECT, the context, task, or job. A: What ACTIVITY did you do? R: What was the RESULT or outcome?

Start each bullet point statement with a strong action verb (i.e. ACTIVITY), followed by the PROJECT, and then tell the reader the RESULT of your actions. In other words, answer the following questions: “What did you do?”, “Why did you do it?”, and “What was the outcome?”

Here is another way to visualize and construct PAR statements:

"Start with an action verb (Think of skills and industry-specific competencies), add the relevant task (Discuss your experience using keywords and jargon based on what you know about the role), then discuss the outcome (To what end or result did you do the task?) Finally add the Accomplishment (What is something important, meaningful or noteworthy that came of your actions?) "

Start with a strong action verb that relates to a skill the employer is seeking. Then, provide context to the reader by adding the relevant task. Reflect keywords, action verbs, and industry-specific language you have found in the job description. Extend this relevant task to an outcome to demonstrate the purpose or the “why?” behind it. Lastly, include any meaningful or noteworthy accomplishment that came of your actions.

Using numbers to show impact

Metrics, or quantitative language, helps your reader see the impact and the tangible outcomes of your efforts. There are several ways you can effectively quantify the results of your work:

  • Financial performance

    Demonstrate financial performance by citing revenue, net profit, or sales generated. Include the specific dollar amount.

    • Designed and executed company’s marketing strategies that drove a $500k increase in annual revenue
    • Organized a series of fundraising events with 150+ attendees; generated $10,000 in donations
  • Increased (or reduced) x by y%

    Show how you made a difference, improved processes, productivity, employee satisfaction, and other aspects of the workplace.

    • Performed electromagnetic compatibility testing on medical equipment, reducing RF emissions of equipment by 50%
    • Improved user experience on client platform, contributing to a 20% increase in subscribers over 6 month period
  • Quantity of work

    Make the scale of your accomplishments clear to a hiring manager by including quantifiable metrics like the size of your department, event, budget, or data set.

    • Developed prototype to identify key influencers on Twitter using clustering techniques over 100,000 data points in Python
    • Managed project re-design process to improve and consolidate end-to-end service; restructured communication flow among 10 departments, and cut down paperwork by 75%

See more: How to quantify your resume (50+ examples)

How to best represent your experiences

Remember that an employer is only scanning your resume document for a few seconds. Writing descriptions in paragraph form can make it tricky for the reader to find important information easily. Instead, use bullet points to separate the information into bite-sized chunks, keeping each statement to 1-2  lines.

"Example description for theatre marketing intern position that reads, in paragraph form, \"responsibilities included coordinating artist press releases, compiling tracking sheets based on information from reservations and box office attendants, handling photo and press release mailing to media, assisting in radio copy writing and performing various other duties as assigned.""Example description for theatre marketing intern position in bullet points that read: • Coordinated press releases that contributed to an increase in annual sales by 10%; • Compiled and maintained a mailing list of 10,000 customers, CPC’s largest ever; • Organized photo and press releases to XYZ Television and Cambridge Daily News; • Contributed to copy writing of promotional radio commercials for five events "

 Another common mistake to avoid when writing your resume is the use of first-person pronouns. It is understood that everything on your resume is about you and your personal experiences. Communicate your experiences in a clear and concise way, as shown in the examples below.

"Resume description that reads, in paragraph form, "I analyzed competitive strategies for clients in the bio tech industry. Data gathered assessed profitability of strategies.""Resume description that reads, in bullet point form: • Assessed profitability of expansion strategy in the biotech industry; results were used by the client to make market entry decision; • Collaborated with three-member team to gather data qualitative interview data from over 100 potential customers and presented results to industry clients "

 

  • Sample First-Year PAR statements

    Math Team Captain: Organized review sessions for 15 participants and scored practice tests, leading team to top 5 finishes in Arizona’s State Math League

    National Honor Society Service Chair: Coordinated the Senior Citizens Ball, raising $1500 for a new Senior Activities Center

    Swim Instructor: Taught children between the ages of four and six basic swimming techniques to promote water safety and awareness

    Radio Shack Assistant Manager: Communicated product details and provided exceptional customer service to 50+ people per day; Promoted from cashier to Assistant Manager after only four months

    Burger King Team Member: Collaborated with food service team in a fast-paced environment to prepare orders based on customer specifications; received food-handling and cashier training

  • Sample Upperclassman/Graduate Student PAR statements

    Undergraduate Researcher: Investigated effects of gas phase oxygen concentration levels on Chinese Hamster Ovary cells in order to establish optimal settings for cell growth, reducing cell division time by 30%.

    Safety & Regulatory Engineering Intern: Performed electromagnetic compatibility testing on X-ray, ultrasound, and CT devices to ensure proper functionality; Reduced RF emissions of medical equipment by 50%.

    Project Manager for Senior Design Team: Collect and interpret flow data and presented results to 5-person management team.

    Software Intern: Incorporated new algorithms into pipeline simulation modules and achieved a tenfold increase in speed

  • Additional resources