The C.A.R. Method: Take Your Resume to the Next Level

resume header image

Improve Your Resume or CV

If your resume is just a long list of your skills, previous jobs, and educational attainments, you’re missing the point of a resume. It paints a picture for hiring managers, revealing to them how you accepted challenges, took action, and delivered quantifiable results. Recruiters don’t care what responsibilities you had in your previous jobs—they care about what you achieved and how you achieved it. They want to see that you can take any job and run with it.

When you submit your resume, don’t automatically assume it will get read. Unless you put sufficient time and effort into crafting the perfect resume for the job, it will probably never even reach the hiring manager because the applicant tracking system (ATS) is apt to discard a submission when it judges it irrelevant for the position. In case you do get past the ATS, the hiring manager may only spend a few seconds skimming your resume. If you fail to pique their interest, they’ll never call you for an interview—after all, they probably have hundreds of other candidates to choose from. 

However, the so-called Challenge, Action, Results (C.A.R.) method will enable you to put together a sizzling resume. Not sure if yours follows this method? Our resume experts stand ready to help.

1. Challenge

All jobs present challenges. Think about those you faced, accepted, and overcame in your previous jobs. In your resume, you want to show how you did it because that’s what hiring managers look for—someone who can take on challenges and overcome them.

Make sure you include a challenge for each job you’ve had. If you’re having trouble coming up with anything, just think back to the tasks you were given. You were probably assigned these tasks to solve a problem. Thinking of challenges is sometimes simply a matter of changing your perspective—really, every job is meant to solve some sort of problem.

When you have a list of challenges for each job, evaluate them and consider the different aspects involved in each task: the skills needed, the strategy required, and the length of time to complete. The best challenges involve long-term projects that demanded significant skills and strategizing to complete or that prove your value to the hiring manager in some other way. Let’s use an example throughout this article to develop a good description: Improved overall monthly online sales.

Here, the challenge was that you needed to improve online sales. Always begin with the issue because in order to resolve something, there initially has to be a problem.

2. Action

Now that you’ve identified the challenge, it’s time to say what you did about it; in other words, what strategy you used to fix the issue. Keep the answer short and concise. Your goal is to have a one-sentence description, so you really don’t have much space. Condensing your accomplishment into a single sentence also allows you to demonstrate your strong communication skills, and the less space each accomplishment takes up, the more of them you can add. 

Let’s expand our example: Improved overall monthly sales by increasing social media advertising.

Now you’ve shown the action you took to solve the problem. You can’t cram every detail into your resume, so be ready to answer questions about your accomplishments in the interview. Through your resume, you just want to communicate the most important information.

3. Results

This is where you truly get to demonstrate your value. If you can, share specific numbers to show how you benefited your company since they paint a vivid picture of your competencies. However, be careful about sharing information that pertains to money—keep it to percentages or number of sales instead of exact dollar amounts. You don’t want to leak another company’s private information. 

Here’s what our example looks like now: Improved overall monthly sales from 15% to 35% by increasing social media advertising.

However you present your achievement, it needs to have clear, quantifiable results. Hiring managers look for people who are dedicated to their job and willing to put in the extra effort to help their company succeed. By showing the quantifiable results of your efforts, you’re telling them that you’re willing to work hard.

Things to keep in mind

This method can work wonders for bolstering your resume and landing you your dream job, but it’s not a 100% guarantee. Here are some things to keep in mind as you implement this method to craft your resume.

Be truthful

Even if you can’t come up with stunning accomplishments, always be honest on your resume. Never lie and make up some great story about your success. If the hiring manager questions you further or calls your former employer, you’ll quickly be found out. 

Even if your lie does go undetected during the hiring process, in case you get the job, it will likely be uncovered over time, which will make things difficult in your new position. Just be truthful and use the interview to explain anything in detail.

Lead with the most important information

You want to have the important information (such as results) at the beginning of your statement because the 5-7 seconds that hiring managers spend on a resume do make a difference. If you keep your results a surprise by putting them at the end, you may never get to reveal your surprise. You’re writing a resume, not a suspense novel; the hiring manager is busy and tired and has 200 other resumes to comb through. If it’s important, it goes to the front.

Hiring managers will ask questions

Any time you state how you successfully handled a big project, expect questions about it in the interview. It may have been a long time since you worked on that project, so take a moment to think through the specifics so you can confidently answer those questions. You don’t want to be caught off guard because it might appear as if they’ve caught you in a lie. Be prepared to answer questions about your successes, offering the recruiter more valuable information about your skills with confidence. 

Did you accept the challenges, take action, and deliver results at your previous jobs? Then prove it in your resume! Show the hiring manager you’re exactly what their company is looking for. Need help adopting this method for your resume? Contact a resume expert today!

Improve Your Resume or CV