Stinky Resume?

After six weeks of job searching I finally broke down and went to a two-day workshop to help me hone my job search skills and techniques. By this time I had sent out over 100 resumes in response to specific job postings or just to a company (without a specific posting).

And I had only 2 interviews … 2%. Pretty discouraging.

In this workshop we were watching a video and something jumped out at me. One of the case studies on the video was a guy who was really big on making sure that his job titles stuck out to impress anyone that read his resume. And that was exactly what was keeping him out of interviews. This was my problem!

In my short eight-year career I have had the following titles: Intern, Programmer, IT Manager, CIO, VP and General Manager. Pretty cool, I thought. I was impressed! But those titles were in a different job market (southern Idaho) than where I was now looking (the Salt Lake City area). I found that I was “competing” with others that had my same titles (and education: CIS degree and MBA), but with many more years behind them. In other words, I may have had similar breadth but the depth of my experience was not even close to theirs.

And this came through on my resume, loud and clear.

So, after watching this video and having an “aha! moment” I realized that what I should have done was change my titles to “manager” or something like that. I’m not sure what recruiters and professional HR folks would have to say about this, all I know is that my resume wasn’t getting me to the next step – the interview.

My advice is to get REAL help from a resume professional. Ask around because I’ve also heard that some of these resume writers are really big on formatting and cool stuff but lack on substance, etc. For formatting and all the trickery go to and put your resume through their system (for free) – you’ll be able to get it spit back out in various formats and file types (pdf, doc, etc.).

And, if this is a frustrating topic for you (in other words, if your resume isn’t doing its job), you might want to check out what those on the other side of the desk (or e-mail) are thinking. Just reading this agenda is interesting because it presents some of the same issues that I’ve heard about from job seekers, but with a twist from the recruiter’s perspective. How to make your resume common? How do they view keywords, acronyms and job titles? Stuff to think about.

2 thoughts on “Stinky Resume?”

  1. Just thinking about job titles – in Martin Yate’s book, he mentions that you should state your past job titles in a “specifically vague” manner. Specific enough to make sure the HR person has an idea of your past experience, but vague enough to make them want to learn more about you – and thus interview you! A tactic he recommends to this end is using the term “specialist” as you rephrase your job titles, or to try thinking of synonyms for your past titles.

  2. Hey there!
    There are two documents that are critically important and can’t be separated — the resume and the cover letter. One lays out your experience; the other gives a glimpse into your personality. I don’t follow the rules for either one. For example, I don’t believe in the one-page resume rule. If your content is compelling, conscisely written and well organized, folks will turn the page.

    The accomplishments in quantitative figures att he top are the most important thing. Anyone can have them. We just this year wrote them for my son who is still a senior in college. They are about when you can be counted on. They answer the queations — Will, and how well, will this person get the job done?

    I call a resume your brand brochure. It’s your oversize business card. Take care that a resume professional doesn’t steer you into a canned version of one. 🙂

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