Organizations want to know how your specific skills, talents, and experiences can help them. During the hiring process they see many vanilla-coated resumes and cover letters that state the same generic things: good people person, strong customer service skills, or broad technical knowledge. While these may be accurate description of your skills, they do very little to set you apart from the hundreds of other people applying for the same job.
When presenting your specific skill set, you need to draw your audience in. In other words, you need to add some chocolate mint or double fudge flavor to set yourself apart from the other bowls of vanilla (or at best French vanilla) ice cream.
For example, below is a common one liner contained in hundreds of resumes:
“Proven track record completing projects under budget and within deadline”
What does this actually tell you? It shows nothing more than this candidate copied that phrase directly from an online resume example. Watch what happens when you put some detail behind it:
“In 2009 I served as project leader over 4 technical projects, ranging from $250,000 to $1 million in budget. I completed three of these projects on time and delivered the forth project three months ahead of schedule.”
How do you do this? Simple. You need to develop a series of power statements that define your skills while relating them to the organization. You need to demonstrate how your skills, talents, and experiences will directly benefit the organization.
Power statements consist of two basic elements: power words and specific achievements.
Power words are positive sounding adjectives that describe you in some way. Examples of power words include:
Authored Administrated Budgeted Designed Implemented
Negotiated Organized Self starter Trained Utilized
Next, think of an achievement, talent, skill, or experience of yours that you want to share with your prospective employer. Examples of these might include:
- A specific challenge meeting a timeline or accomplishing a goal
- An instance that details a talent you have for getting along with all different personality types
- A time that you were able to focus on the details of a specific project and because of your efforts were able to keep it from being late
Below are several examples of achievement statements:
Proven track record of maintaining server uptime through detailed monitoring and reporting.
In one quarter reduced service contract expenditures by 20 percent through by consolidating 30 service providers and eliminating duplicate or unnecessary services.
Successfully negotiated lower lease terms, saving $10,000 a year in printing costs.
Developed a new method to image computers, saving an hour per computer for the IT staff.
Putting it all together
Below are some examples of power statements:
I am detailed oriented. Last fall I scoured our inventory list of over 10,000 entries and eliminated the duplicate entries, located 10 previously lost assets, and used that list to perform out first accurate physical inventory in five years.
I am technically astute. I have a habit of reading at least one new book in my field each month. Last month I ran into a unique problem with a server which I was able to solve because I had read about the potential for that specific issue the month before.
Create Your Own Power Statement
Use the following formula to create a Power Statement:
I am [use a “power word” to describe a major strength]. For example, I [describe an achievement].
Don’t Stop Here
When detailing your achievements you may want to focus on the following three points:
- A short description of the problem
- Specific actions you took because of the problem
- What you learned as a result of your actions
While you may not be able to bring out all of these points in your power statements, identifying these points ahead of time will enable you to better answer questions later on concerning them.
Power statements can be used in cover letters, resumes, and during interviews. These statements are actually the building blocks of your personal marketing plan.