How to Sell Yourself in Your Resume

Editor’s Note: I always find it valuable to hear different hiring manager’s perspectives on what they would like to see in a business analyst resume. I find that there are many similarities but also differences in what different hiring managers and recruiters would like to see. In this post, Steve shares his suggestions, developed after reviewing hundreds of resumes as a hiring manager.

Those of you who are long-time readers will notice that a few of his suggestions are different from advice I’ve provided here in the past. There is no one formula for a resume and each hiring manager has their own preferences. By understanding what different hiring managers perceive as a best practice, you will be better prepared to communicate your qualifications most effectively to the most possible people.

I have been providing mentoring services for free to a number of business analysts and project managers over the past several years.  Just about all of them have traveled the road of getting certified as a PMP® or a CBAP®, and just about all of them have gone through the sometimes agonizing process of acquiring a new position with a different organization.  Many of the recurring conversations I have been having are about resumes and interviewing. If I were mentoring you, and you asked about your resume, here are some resume tips I would pass on.

Now, I am not an expert, but I have been around a long time and I have written many resumes for myself and others (when bidding on consulting work years ago).  I have also read hundreds of resumes for the purpose of hiring.  So what I have to say is based on that experience and nothing more.

Basically, when you write a resume, it has to sell youIt is a sales document, and you are the item for sale. Each point on the resume should answer the question: why should I hire this person?

The sale begins with the Summary, which all the experts tell you to place at the top of the resume. The concept of the Summary is to make it easy for the resume reviewer to grasp who you are and make a decision without having to read the rest of the resume.  So in the Summary, you want to make statements that grab the reviewer’s attention right away. Don’t just list the companies you have worked with; make statements about why you are special. These are called “discriminators” and state what makes you different from everyone else. For example, while I don’t send my resume out much anymore, I do keep it current and my Summary references the fact that I have written a book on business analysis, among other accomplishments. The idea is to get the reviewer interested enough to read the full resume.

After the Summary, state any other important pieces of information about you. For example, degrees, professional certifications, other education and training, and the like should be first. Tie the Summary to this list — if you got an award, state the reason for the reward in the Summary. If you put these items at the end of your resume, the reviewer might never get there.

The rest of your resume, which states your experience, is not simply a laundry list of what you have done in your work life in chronological order. The most important things you have done for your previous employers and the highlights of your career should be first, regardless of when in your life they occurred. For the typical job applicant, this means that the first items might well be the most current because we keep getting better and doing better things as we get older and wiser and gain experience and responsibility. In addition, the most current accomplishments and activities are probably those most pertinent to the position you want.  I don’t see any reason for including dates or even company names in this section. Just a sentence or two about each accomplishment.

I managed a project which replaced the company’s insurance processing software, bringing the project in under budget and ahead of schedule, and saving the company $250,000 a year.

While investigating the inventory control process at a large manufacturing company, I devised a new method for increasing the speed of inventory turn and reducing waste. The method was adopted by all the manufacturing centers in the global organization.

I managed a 3.5 million dollar program for a US Federal Agency, managing 105 direct reports over a four year period.

The list of positions you’ve had can be listed with the company name (if you wish) in reverse chronological order after you have told them what you have done and what you can do.  That is what is interesting and appealing to a resume reviewer, not what company you have worked for. The reviewer can relate the company names to the accomplishments, and if not they may be interested enough to call you in for an interview. If that happens, your resume was successful.

The purpose of the resume is to get you an interview.  Write the resume as though the reader won’t get past the first paragraph, so you have to grab his or her attention right away. Tell them why they should read further. Tell them why they should be interested in you rather than anyone else. Make them wonder what else you can do. Make them start asking themselves questions about you and they will want you in for an interview. Remember, a resume alone never got anyone hired, but it is necessary to get you in for the interview. And getting you to the interview is the purpose of the resume.

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  1. Very informative and insightful article.



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