Why Women Need to "Toot Their Own Horn" On Their Resumes

Here’s a fabulous guest post from Grant Cooper, prez of Strategic Resumes in New Orleans:

When I first began my career as a professional resume writer in 1994, I noticed a difference in how male and female clients related their backgrounds and accomplishments.  At first, I just chalked it up to a minor variation in how the genders viewed themselves and their work.

On one hand, I routinely interviewed male clients who would exaggerate or embellish their career highlights and accomplishments, while on the other hand, my female clients would generally understate or minimize their roles and contributions.

For example, my client Brad had filled in for his boss for a 6-week period during his job, and insisted that I elaborate on his duties and acomplishments as “acting general manager.” When I questioned Brad as to specifics, he said that the company basically ran on “autopilot” and that he mainly functioned as he had prior to his boss’s absence.

Susan, my client who had served as director for her firm for nearly a year, stated, “Well, it really wasn’t my job, I was just filling in.” After querying her further, I learned that Susan spearheaded an initiative that landed her firm’s biggest client and introduced several successful cost-cutting measures that resulted in a banner year of profitability.

Year after year, I have seen this trend remain constant and I continue to assist women clients who undervalue their careers and fail to adequately note their accomplishments in their resumes.  Not being a sociologist or research scientist, I can not say with any certainty as to why this is the case.  Perhaps women are raised in our society to be self-deprecating and not “brag” or “boast,” while men are raised to take credit wherever possible and actually inflate their contributions.  Or perhaps there may be some innate gender forces at work.

Although I am certainly not qualified to understand the root causes of the “gender gap” in terms of “tooting one’s own horn,” I am fully qualified as a resume writer, and I can state unequivocally that minimizing one’s accomplishments is a sure path to short-circuiting a competitive job search.  As I conduct the client information-gathering session that is part of the resume creation process, I now probe much more deeply with my female clients and end up uncovering a wealth of skills, accomplishments, and career-related highlights that might have remained hidden, and that qualitatively improves their resumes.

Perhaps as a side-benefit of this process, I receive ongoing feedback from my women clients that they have gained enhanced self-esteem and a renewed sense of confidence by having a professional tell them it’s perfectly OK and even crucial to “brag” and to “toot their own horns” on their resumes.

Grant Cooper is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, author of numerous career-related articles published in journals, newspapers, and online, and is the founder and president of Strategic Resumes, certified resume writers in New Orleans.  For more information, visit www.strategicresumes.com.

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  • almostgotit says:

    Hiya Karen, and another terrific post! I’m tooting YOUR horn a little over at almostgotit.com. You got me to THINKIN’, see…

    xxxoo