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What I Believe, What I Need to Believe – Getting Bulletproof Pitch or Resume


I’ve looked at and/or produced a couple hundred business cases.  To determine the validity of a business case before it was presented for funding, I have a simple system to figure out where we needed more details behind the premise or execution to help get the plan approved.  I asked myself two questions “What do I believe?” and “What do I need to believe?”

For example, let’s use a business case to expand an existing product line to a new customer segment.  I would believe we can produce the product and feel comfortable with the assumptions for operations.  What I need to believe is that we can effectively sell it to an entirely new customer set.  Therefore, I would spend time with the sales and marketing team to determine how well we understood the new customers’ needs, product fit, sales cycle, buying habits, etc. and what it would take to learn what we did not know.

The more we put together a plan for the ‘need to believe’ items, the more bulletproof the plan and the more often it got funded.  To be clear, there was still risk, we provided reasonable points to help get past the major issues.

Now let’s read your resume from the prospective of a recruiter, HR, or hiring manager and ask the same questions of what you believe and what you need to believe.

The “What I believe” will be if the technical accomplishments or responsibilities fit the role held.  From their experience from work, knowledge of the industry or profession, reading resumes, and past hires, they will know what can be accomplished by a title, company size and time in the position. 

For example, if you included a bullet point that you were responsible for a $5 million budget.  If you were a VP, it’s believable that you controlled and approved the budget.  If you were am Analyst, then the term ‘responsible’ takes a different meaning, most likely you helped execute or track the spending. 

It’s good to match your terms for level of participation and/or responsibility to your actual experience, because it is easy to contrast your claim against other applicants.  While desirable to promote yourself, be sure to keep it within reason, because trying to support an overstated position during an interview is also the kiss of death for your candidacy.

Where you truly set yourself apart are the items generally considered ‘what I need to believe’, your results claimed (e.g. ‘Saved $5 million annually from ….).  Because unless the person reviewing your resume was at the same firm as you, then it is very is tough to validate.  But just imagine the power those statements would have if they were validated.

Whether through your referrals, non-confidential copies of past work, 3rd party references, awards, etc. try to line up as much as possible of the results need to be believed.  You can share copies at meetings, send via e-mail, or use tools like personal blogs/websites, BusinessCard2, LinkedIn, etc. to post examples of work, testimonials, references, etc.

I like to put my items on-line and then insert the links to my “proof of work” in my documents or e-mails to make them immediately accessible to the reader.  Also, I’ll add or subtract items to fit the position to make them as relevant as possible.

Remember, your resume and personal brand both present a ‘promise’ of what you can bring to the company.  Actions do speak louder than words, so help prove the promise!

Good luck this week!

Mark Richards