Resumes that get interviews

First of all we know that a resume does not get an inteview YOU do. A well conceived resume will advance your candidacy, when you take an active role in shaping and marketing your resume. 

Then people see your resume they should understand who you are–it must reflect you. 

Mirror

That being said, your resume is the most important tool in your career change "I gotta get a new job" toolbox. It is not only your direct mail sales lead piece in your personal marketing campaign–your resume is YOU and your unique brand, at least for those 10-20 seconds of the initial review to determine whether you are in the pool or not. In the American Idol job world your resume has to have chops –it has to sing! 

Idol

Resume test:

  • Does your resume differentiate you from others?
  • Would you hire you?

 A "no" to either of these questions requires you to re-boot the system and craft a resume you love. 

  

There are so many great resources out there that give great examples and tips. Rileyguide is my favorite. Jane Porter's WSJ column is also a good primer. 

Let me just start with what a resume is NOT:
  1. It is not merely a chronology of your jobs and duties
  2. It is not one size fits all 
  3. It does not assume the reader knows anything 
  4. It does not have to fit into one page, unless you just graduated in the last couple of years 

Please see my 10 tips on resume writing. Here's the summary for you attention deficit readers :) 
  1. Target the resume to the skills and requirements of the job and industry.
  2. Avoid functional formats, stick to chronological. 
  3. No "Objective" or "Summary" on the resume. 
  4. Brief description of your employer and/or function of that location. 
  5. Use months for employment dates, not just years.
  6. Insert relevant volunteer/unpaid, non-profit Board, committee chair experiences where you have a track record and deliverables
  7. Don't be afraid to leave off old, irrelevant or distracting things.  
  8. List achievements as well as duties. This is one way to differentiate. 

So after you have spent some thoughtful time re-writing your resume from the standpoint of "Would you hire you?" Here are the three things to maximize your chances for an interview:

  1. Write a killer cover letter. Do not write the textbook cover note. Use the opportunity and space to tell your story. Why you want this job. How you are uniquely qualified. Give your resume a plot, where you are the protagonist. Explain obvious gaps or questions raised by your resume. Were you laid off? Were you busy being a mom? Don't let the reader assume you were imprisoned or fired for embezzlement.
  2. Network for insider information. Use your network to find connections at the targeted employers. Any connections at any level at any position. People to talk to for the inside scoop on the state of affairs of the company and specifically about the view of the department/division you are considering. Any first hand info will give you a leg up in your interview, either to show your interest level or to shape your questions.  
  3.  Network for influence. Here's where you can get a big advantage. Find a senior executive, Board member, or even a high ranking official at a vendor of the employer. You need to have a warm connection to them, meaning somebody you know has a trusting relationship with this person. Your mentor, uncle, sister, best friend, college roommate, somebody who can endorse you. The ask is, "Please interview this person." And the employer does it on the strength of who is requesting.You have already applied or your resume is attached to the request. Nothing separates you from the pile than such a request. You still have to be qualified, but this endorsement gives you a chance and adds a patina of trustworthiness to your candidacy that can be invaluable.  Brand you

In general, people's resumes poorly reflect their objectives and their capabilities. It does not differentiate their brand–their unique experiences and background. Often, little care or attention has been given to this precious and influential document. People seem to think that their interviewing skills will fill in the gaps and get the ultimate message across. But if you do not get the interview, your chance to audition is lost. 

Would you hire you? And would you vote to give you the chance to sing at the next level? 

Thanks for reading. John

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3 thoughts on “Resumes that get interviews”

  1. Great blog! My question is with the accomplishments piece. When I review resumes I always discount the accomplishments because they are completely unverifiable. “I increased the revenues for business unit by 278%!” Impressive but the skeptical side of me skips over that and looks more at their duties. Not surprisingly, my resume lacks these types of accomplishments because I assume the reader will ignore it as well. Am I making a big mistake?

  2. Thanks for the challenge. The opposite extreme is just listing duties that any breathing human could have done. 🙂 So achievements/accomplishments distinguish you. They need to be verfiable. that’s what references are for. But understanding what someone did with the job is critical and that has to be conveyed in the resume. In short, you are missing an opportunity. John

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