Understanding a Resume

There are three key issues to understanding a resume. They are The Audience, The Author and The Content. Each of these components requires careful consideration when developing your resume to ensure that you achieve the best possible results. At times such as now when the job market is tight it is more important than ever that your resume stands out from the crowd. Remember a simple rule, Less is More, you would not tell all on a first date, you would tell enough to make yourself interesting and the same rule applies to writing your resume.

The Audience in this case can be either human or mechanical and we have to consider both of these entities. We also have to consider another scenario, that of networking where the resume is used as an introductory tool rather than as a direct job application. In the case of the human audience we are most often considering a recruiter and secondly the networking contact. The recruiter is usually busy and pushed to giving each resume the briefest of scans. To overcome this issue we need to make the resume easy to read, so easy in fact that the information jumps off the page straight into their mind. Long, complicated sentences in the opening summary can jeopardize your chances of having your resume passed on to the hiring manager. The mechanical audience is usually some form of scanning system that is looking for key words. The objective is to make sure the correct words are in your resume.

The Author can either be the person who is the subject of the resume or someone who is employed by that individual. Every time that you show your resume to someone else and ask for their opinion your will receive constructive criticism. There is a fine line between constantly changing your resume for the needs of the opportunity you are chasing and doing it because someone else has made a comment. When choosing a writer to work with make sure that they understand you and your goals, this is not a five minute exercise but requires multiple conversations before a satisfactory result can be obtained.

The Content is the most important piece of the puzzle. This is normally divided into 3 main sections, The Summary, Experience and Education. There are many variations on this theme but in essence the goal in all resumes is to know your target position, research it carefully and focus your resume on answering the needs of the company. The Summary is where you make your first impression; this is the area where you have the first 20 seconds of the recruiters time. Make the best of this and deliver a clear, easy to read section. In the Experience section we are dealing with your accomplishments, we are looking for thoughts and ideas that make you stand out from the crowd. The final section, Education is where we list College and Corporate training information unless we have recently left school where we may also list our High School information.

In summary, a well written summary section focused on what you can deliver to an organization, an author focused on building a great resume that is focused on them and a content section that demonstrates your strengths and accomplishments will provide you with the finest resume.

Remove “soft-skills” clutter from your resume.

Would you ever dream of writing on your resume something like “takes long lunches”, “fears change”,  “is lazy” or even “argues a lot with peers”

Then why do a lot of job seekers feel they need to communicate their soft-skills to the employer to make them appear unique. Lets face it “soft-skills” are claimed by nearly all job candidates and are so common that hiring managers virtually pay no attention to them.

Soft-skill phrases to avoid:

  • excellent communication skills
  • goal-driven
  • strong work ethic
  • multi-tasker
  • personable presenter
  • goal-oriented
  • detail-oriented

Get the picture? Using these tired old phrases is going to bore the reader and just clutter up your resume.

It’s much more effective to write descriptions that are action-based and demonstrate these abilities rather than just laying claim to them; show, don’t tell.

For example, rather than just stating you are an “excellent presenter,” you could say something like “Developed and presented 50+ multi-media presentations to C-level prospects resulting in 35 new accounts totaling $300,000 in new revenues.”

Simon Clay Michael at VirtualJobCoach.com

Related Posts:

Always use the strongest Action Verbs in your resume

How to write a resume – Achievement Statements

How to write a resume – Summary Statement

Danger – Don’t divulge your age on your resume

Age discrimination is a real fear many people have in both good and tough economic times.

Many older workers are facing a scary time known as pre-retirement, and they have a very real fear of age discrimination.

The trap a lot of people fall into is to feel they can counter the threat by giving a very active description of their age or health to “prove” they are not ready for the nursing home!  Not only are they toying with hiring laws, but they also make the very issue they’re trying to hide stand out in neon letters.

Age, health, appearance phrases to avoid:

  • young
  • energetic
  • youthful
  • athletic
  • fit
  • healthy
  • professional appearance
  • mature

Let me give you an example, read this and honestly tell me you’re not thinking about age:

“Healthy, young-at-heart executive ready to make a difference rather than play golf all day. Trim, fit marathon runner seeks position as……”

I’m thinking this person might as well have written “57 year old male terrified of age discrimination and worried that he’ll be passed over for a younger candidate”.

While being a marathon runner is an accomplishment at any age, it doesn’t belong on your resume.

(Unless the position demands it.)

So while “you” maybe thinking and worrying about something, just remember all the reader has to go on is what you tell them, so take some time to put yourself in the readers place and cut out everything that’s a give-away.


Simon Clay Michael at VirtualJobCoach.com

Related Posts:

Always use the strongest Action Verbs in your resume

How to write a resume – Achievement Statements

How to write a resume – Summary Statement

Poets day Picks

From the labor day week here are this weeks poets day picks

Bills interviewing tips, and CM Russell adds a firm handshake is a must

Thanks to Joel for the heads up about this from

Kathy Sierra’s post about defining your own measure of success, which doesn’t have to include moving up the corporate ladder. The comments and links are worth checking out too.

The itzbig-blog talks about the using the resume “objective statement” versus “summary statement” debate. (my earlier posts on the same topic- here and here).

Have a great weekend

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 9 to 12

9th Day. So far we have written a resume, developed our marketing pitches and constructed a networking list, moving forward we are now going to start building our target company lists and add some other items to the mix including cover letters and some general tips. The primary task for Day 9 is to identify a list of organizations that you wish to target as potential employers. This is important at a number of levels, firstly it provides you with a focus, and you are not shooting resumes every which way rather you are focused on networking your way into an organization and insuring that your pitch, resume and cover letter (coming soon) are targeted. We are also going to use this list as part of our networking activities.

10th Day. The days are rushing by and as we call or email our network contacts our primary goal is to set up meetings either in person or if that is not practical by phone. With our target company list we can now provide a focus to our contacts on the types of people we are trying to connect with. Often when we ask the question “who else should I be talking with?” you are met with a blank stare as your contact has not been prepared. With the target company list we can now provide this information in advance and have a better chance of success in getting that elusive next step. To summarize, Day 10 is focused on setting up networking meetings and from now on we should allocate a portion of the day to setting up those meetings. Set a weekly goal as to the number of meeting you need to make in order to build out your network.

11th Day. Let us now start stretching our wings and adding some additional tools to our arsenal. As part of reaching out to our contacts it is necessary for us to utilize as many tools as possible and LinkedIn dot com and Plaxo dot com are two well known and business focused web sites. Build out your profile and connect with ex-colleagues from previous employers. This works just as well if you are employed and looking for the next great opportunity, make sure that your digital profile is out there and up to date. Recruiters troll the networking sites looking for strong potential candidates and in my experience I have seen senior level appointments being made as a result of these profiles. Our final piece of marketing collateral is the cover letter. Many recruiters will tell you that they never read it and they are a waste of time, others will say that they are crucial to the decision as to inviting the candidate in for an interview. As we are unable to determine which recruiter is which from an advertisement it is better to err on the side of caution and prepare a strong letter that clearly lays out your qualifications for the position. The worst that can happen is that is ignored.

12th Day. The last day in our program, this day is being devoted to summarizing important To Dos and adding some addition tricks and tips.

1. Create a professional email address; barefootwrestler @ xxxxx dot com does not portray a great impression.

2. A resume is not a chapter in a book. Focus on information that is relevant to your future employer. They do not want a life story. Ensure that your industry key words are in the resume.

3. The cover letter should clearly lay out your qualifications for the position.

4. The “Why I am no longer with?” and “Tell me about yourself” pitches should be practiced and focused on delivering success. No criticism of previous employers.

5. A solid list of contacts to build your network is vital.

6. Create a list of target companies.

7. Build your digital profile (You own your brand, make it work for you)

8. Set achievable targets and keep to them.

9. Network, network and network.

10. Success is directly proportional to the amount of effort you invest.

Good Hunting.

Objective or Summary Statement?

Not sure if you should use an objective or summary statement in your resume. Like all good advice, there isn’t a single answer and the appropriate answer depends on your situation, and who will see your resume.

Objective and summary statements occupy prime real-estate on the resume, the top third of the first page. This is about as much as the reader will see in the 10 -20 seconds they spend on their first pass. Getting the reader to keep reading your resume, or to put it in the pile for further review is critical. A poorly written objective or summary statement will derail you just as you get started.

So when do you choose to use one over the other?
I agree with Steve, on when to use an objective statement
“The only time I can envision an objective statement being useful is when you are submitting your resume into a large pool.  If you are submitting directly to the hiring manager, it won’t tell him/her anything the presence of your resume does not.  Don’t waste the space.  If, on the other hand, you are submitting to a large pool such as Dice or Monster or a large company like Microsoft where many hiring managers will be looking at your resume for disparate positions.”

and if your a recent graduate, then consider the College Recruiter article suggest
“An objective statement is very limiting and is often the weakest portion of the new graduate resume,…” “If you limit yourself with your objective to one type of job, you are greatly handicapping your prospects for success since most new graduates are quite flexible in the type of position they are seeking or the company for which they would like to work. By using an objective statement, you are narrowing your opportunities at a time in your career when you truly have all sorts of choices.”

So what makes a good objective statement?
The general consensus on objective statements is to keep it short and relevant to the employer. It can be as simple as the job title, and may be extended to include the industry or field. “A senior architect position, designing office and manufacturing space.” or “Senior web developer”. This also makes it easier for recruiters using keywords to find your resume from the millions of others.

Objective statements to avoid are general fluffy statements such as “I want a career that will utilize my skills”, or ” “challenging and rewarding job that will” or “obtain a challenging position in “. None of these convey to the employer what you do, and how they relate to the position in consideration, nor do they help with any keyword searches.

More on the summary statement tomorrow…