Hi, I’m Patrick, I write about the job search. After graduating from Cornell, I became a content lead at UBS where I helped professionals at Fortune 500 companies understand their stock options, salary, and benefits. When I’m not writing about the hiring process, I write novels for teens. Use these tips to become a better resume writer and land your dream job faster.
Updated in 2023
At Pathrise, we have helped over 1,000 people land great jobs in tech. With each success, we have gained valuable knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. Most people understand that the resume is one of the most important elements of your job search because it acts as a gatekeeper. If you have a strong resume, you are going to get more interview invites.
The key to a good resume is strong, action-oriented statements. The difficulty most people face when writing their resumes is that they are too in the weeds with the work that they did. If you are unable to look at your school projects, internships, and/or past jobs from an impact-centered perspective, your resume will be less impressive.
“Grunt statements” are what we call statements that just describe the work that you did. Basically, you are just talking in broad strokes about grunt work. But, you can use these grunt statements to your advantage to become a better resume writer.
Here’s how: take your grunt statement as a jumping off point and then optimize it for impact. Start with a strong action word, then provide context for why you did the task, and finally describe what you accomplished. In addition, quantify your results or the scale of the problem you tackled by asking yourself key questions like:
- How many different situations did I test?
- Was this an interdisciplinary project? How many teams did I work with?
- How many people did I manage?
- What was the reach of the launch? Or, what will the estimated reach be?
- How much money did I produce or save?
- By what percentage did I improve a company process?
Here is an example of a grunt statement:
- Developed an internal conference room booking app.
Steps to make this into a better resume sentence:
- Context – Why did you develop the booking system? What issues led to the need? What program did you use to create it?
- Results – What did you accomplish by creating this system?
- Quantification – How much time was saved within the company? Or, you can use qualitative descriptions – were spirits higher? Was there a decrease in internal arguments?
Here is an example of that same statement, but now much stronger and more impact-oriented:
- Spearheaded Ruby on Rails development of an internal conference room booking app, leading to 40% less employee time spent on searching for open rooms and an average employee NPS score of 9/10 for the app.
The impact statement is definitely going to be longer than the original statement, but it will also be much more powerful when a recruiter or hiring manager reads it. That’s what matters – highlighting why your work was important and ensuring that they know you are worth interviewing and, hopefully, hiring.
Some tasks are harder to quantify, but you should still bring results into the statement.
For example, this is a grunt statement:
- Worked with undergraduate students on their homework, projects, and general topics as an office hour TA.
You might think it is hard to derive impact from this, but if you ask the right questions, you can:
- Context – Why did you teach office hours? What specific topics did students learn the most from you?
- Results – Was there an increase in test scores? Did students tell you they understood the topics more after working with you?
- Quantification – How many hours did you teach? How many students did you interact with on a daily or weekly basis?
Here is the same statement with the answers included:
- Taught 100+ hours of office hours, focusing on C++ problem sets, investing 3x the average expected teaching time expected of a TA and contributing to a 45% increase in student test scores by the end of the quarter.
With the above tips and guidance, you should be on your way to becoming a good resume writer so you can impress recruiters. If you are looking for guidance on the best resume formats for hiring algorithms, check out our guide.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, fellows have seen their application responses triple and their interview performance scores double.
If you want to work with our mentors 1-on-1 to optimize your resume or any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.