Einstein claimed that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If that’s true, then too many people don’t see what’s wrong with their resume, and continue to make the same mistake.
Scott came to the other day with versions of his resume that he had paid different resume writers to write. He complained that he had made substantial changes to each one, but none of them had generated any interviews. He was hoping that I could help.
I asked him to look at the sample resumes posted on my website. That way, before he parted with any additional dollars, he would clearly understand my approach to resume writing, and not feel that he was going to have to revise my work.
So Scott looked and told me that my resumes were “interesting,” but what he wanted was one “like his other ones, but better written.”
Makes sense, right? Instead of understanding what was wrong with his resume, Scott thought he should continue in the same vein.
Here’s what recruiters say is wrong with your resume
I periodically survey the recruiters and HR professionals in my network about what does and doesn’t work in resume writing, and while opinions sometimes differ, we all agree that we hate resumes that begin like this:
Accomplished, charismatic, and strategic Sales Executive experienced in driving revenue growth in B2B/B2C, E commerce, Technology (SaaS), and Financial Services. Recognized for ability to build, develop, and coach world class sales teams to achieve metoric [sic] goals and quotas.Extremely polished, and able to effectively interact and close sales with C-level Executives. Highly proficient in building and developing channel partner relationships, strategic business development,and sales team management.
What’s wrong with this, you ask? Well, for starters, let’s talk about all those adjectives this person uses to describe himself: he’s accomplished, charismatic AND strategic!” Wow.
He claims to drive revenue growth, but how does he substantiate this claim? He’s recognized (by whom?) for his ability to build world-class teams! (the rest of you guys are clearly only building local-class teams, the not-ready-for-prime time types). And best of all, these teams achieve meteoric levels, even if their leader can’t spell.
Nowhere on this person’s resume is there any evidence of these claims. I mean, if I told you that I was the BEST resume writer in the world, why would you believe me? However, if I told you that 85% of my clients who report back tell me that the new resume was getting them interviews, that gives you a pretty good indication of the quality of my work.
Here’s how to fix what’s wrong with your resume
As I’ve written before, “What You Want, Baby I Got is the Key to a Great Resume,” first up, a resume has to say, “this is who I am, and this is what I do, and I’m real great at the XYZ that needs to be done.” Next, you have to demonstrate your greatness at the XYZ. Identify at least 5 specific examples of any of the traits you want to be known for. The “charismatic” guy? How about relating a “for example” of an accomplishment that was driven by his charisma? As for all that revenue driving, how about backing up the claim with some specifics, like “Grew annuity software business 64% y-y to $188M.”
When I work with clients, I ask them to tell me stories about a specific instance where there was a problem, and they did something about it that achieved a positive outcome on account of their input or action. They tell me a few stories, and I turn them into bullets. This bullet came from a story that Steve, an engineer told me.
Avoided expense of moving 800K pound dredge needed to dig a lake by taking it apart, reassembling near the location and utilizing laws of physics for placement
Steve was called for an interview by his target employer 3 days after he applied.
And instead of a bunch of meaningless, hyperbolic hackneyed words, recruiters, et al are introduced on paper to a unique individual. Someone who has an intriguing story to tell. Someone who they will likely want to invite in for an interview.
At which point, it’s up to your accomplished, charismatic and strategic self to nail a job offer.
If your current resume bears any similarity to the one quoted above, you’ll want to read about my pricing and process.