A resume shouldn’t just be a list of duties and responsibilities. It’s a story. Today, we’re digging in to an emerging resume-writing method that helps you tell that story better: the C.A.R. method.
The art of the resume has evolved over the past few years. In the beginning, there was the functional resume. Picture the classic list of bullet points of “duties and responsibilities” that reads like it’s copied from a job description. Functional resumes were, well, functional. They told employers what you did, as a way of showing them you could do it again in a new job. They matched the keywords that companies were looking for. But they were dry as dirt. They didn’t have any juice. Read enough functional resumes—and a recruiter or HR manager reads plenty—and your eyes glaze over. It’s no wonder that, according to a study from a few years ago, recruiters spend an average of 7 seconds looking at a resume. They shouldn’t, but with how dry functional resumes are, can you blame them?
The biggest problem with functional resumes is that they don’t tell a story. They tell the reader what you’ve done, and when, and where, but they don’t answer how you’ve progressed in your career. Most importantly, they don’t answer the why. Functional resumes show that you’ve filled a seat, but they don’t show what motivates you, or what you bring to the table.
As a recruitment agency, we have long been proponents of the accomplishment-based resume, which evolved out of the functional resume to answer these questions. Instead of just talking about what you’ve done, an accomplishment-based resume explains what you’ve delivered. What major projects have you led? What cost savings have you brought to bear? What innovations have you spearheaded? If your resume shows career progression, an accomplishment-based resume shows why you’ve progressed. It also uses metrics and numbers as much as possible to show the scope of these accomplishments.
For a quantitative, project-based discipline like supply chain management (which is our specialty at Argentus), an accomplishment-based resume fits like a glove. We see a lot of resumes, and when a great candidate sends us a functional resume, we’ll almost always ask them to revise it into an accomplishment-based resume.
But there’s a new resume approach that’s caught our eye. It’s been gaining traction among job seekers, and it could be the next phase of this evolution: The C.A.R method.
We’ll spare you the automotive puns. C.A.R. stands for Challenge, Action, Result. For a few years, candidates have used the C.A.R. method in interviews to provide concise case studies for their previous experience. Here’s how it works:
• When an employer asks you about your previous experience, provide a brief, 1-2 sentence overview of a challenge that you faced.
• Then, a brief explanation of the actions that you took.
• Finally, you explain the result of those actions, with numbers if possible.
This format seems simple. But it’s a useful trick to keep you on track and highlighting situations where you’ve provided value. After increasingly using the C.A.R. method as an interview technique, more candidates are turning to the C.A.R technique to write resumes. As recruiters, the resumes that we see that use this method jump off the page. It’s worth exploring whether you’re actively looking for a job, or just looking to give your resume (or LinkedIn profile) a refresh for 2024.
A C.A.R. resume builds on the success of an accomplishment-based resume by adding focus. It cuts even more fat to focus on exactly what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. It shows that you’ve contributed, rather than being a seat filler. Because it focuses on using action words, it’s more engaging to read. Most importantly, it tells a story, or a series of stories. Humans are storytelling animals, and people will always identify with a story more than a cold set of facts.
So how do you go about writing a C.A.R. Resume? Here are a few tips.
The overall organization of the document should be similar to a classic resume layout. Put your name and contact information at the top, followed by a brief objective statement, and a quick highlight of your skills.
It’s when you get into your past work experience (the next section) that the C.A.R. method comes into focus. For each job, identify 3-5 major challenges that you faced, related to the major deliverables for the role. These will be your bullet points. Treat each bullet point as an opportunity to tell a (brief) story, one to two sentences maximum. Each point should cover:
- A significant challenge you faced. In supply chain and procurement, a few examples might be a difficult situation with a supplier, a disorganized inventory process, a lack of data, or a supply chain crunch due to unforseen demand. Make sure to include as many key words as possible.
- the action(s) you took to address that challenge. Focus on your specific contribution in addressing the challenge. This might be arranging new terms to circumvent a supplier bottleneck, or implementing a new inventory management system.
- the result of those actions. In short, what are the concrete improvements that happened because of your actions? What were the cost savings? The increased inventory turns? The improved fill rate? Use relevant supply chain metrics as much as possible.
Here are a few examples tailored to supply chain and procurement:
Example #1: An ERP Implementation.
Let’s say you participated in an ERP implementation as part of a previous role. This kind of experience is extremely valuable for companies looking to up their game, either by upgrading their ERP for their supply chain, or by implementing a new one completely.
Here’s how this experience might read on a functional resume: “Participated in ERP implementation of SAP Hana as subject matter expert.”
The C.A.R. approach: “As supply chain subject matter expert for SAP Hana implementation, identified key barriers to adoption from the production team. Developed training materials and incorporated production feedback with the implementation team, leading to smooth adoption of the SAP system resulting in a 15% productivity increase.
Example #2: Category Management in Procurement.
Let’s say you worked in a procurement role, managing raw materials procurement in manufacturing. Think about major strategic projects that you delivered. What was the risk you identified? What actions did you take, and what was the concrete result in terms of cost savings?
A functional resume might write: “Responsible for raw materials procurement for a manufacturing site.”
The C.A.R. approach: “identified significant risk and bottlenecks with sole source contract for a critical commodity. Conducted strategic marketplace analysis and competitive bid to broaden the supplier base, leading to $800,000 in cost savings.”
A C.A.R. resume won’t necessarily look drastically different to other resume styles, but it will read differently. More active, more impactful. It’s more likely to get you an interview, but will also help you in the interview, giving the hiring manager concrete accomplishments to ask you about as a jumping off point.
We hope you find these tips helpful, and give you some motivation to do your next resume refresh. As we always say, the best time to refresh your resume is before you’re looking for a job. So why not take the plunge with a C.A.R. resume?
And as always, stay tuned for more Argentus blog posts in the coming weeks as we explore the intersection of supply chain management, procurement, recruiting and career development. We have lots of great posts planned for 2024, and can’t wait for you to join us!