As a hiring manager, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing more resumes than I’d ever care to count. I’ve also hired my fair share of people over the years. One thing I’ve noticed during that time is there is no lack of bad resumes out there.
“Okay… so why should I listen to you Mike versus any of the billions of online resume resources out there?”
One simple answer – ask yourself how many people like you have those people writing the articles interviewed and hired? Sure, they’re dispensing incredibly deep and meaningful resume advice (like “make sure they’re ar know mispelings in yor resuma.” Thanks Captain Insightful!) but how many analysts, managers and junior executives have they actually interviewed or hired over the years? That’s what I thought. I’ve interviewed many. I’ve hired fewer. Your call on who you want to listen to.
A resume is nothing more than a knock at the door. You will never be hired on your resume alone. All it does is gets a recruiter’s interest and influences them to invite you for a phone call or a cup of coffee (at best).
Boo Boo #1 – Being too loquacious
Given the need to generate interest, write your resume as a summary that covers your accomplishments but only enough to generate interest. It’s a teaser. To be blunt – if it’s more than two pages, I stop reading. Seriously. I don’t care what’s on page three and beyond. Why? If you have trouble communicating succinctly on such a critical paper, I can only imagine what your memos or presentations will be like – loooooong and booooooring. Two pages. No mas. I’m not the only one who believes this approach on brevity.
Boo Boo #2 – Not providing context
As a hiring manager, I need you to give me context. Who wouldn’t hire this person given their accomplishments below?
- Improved business unit profit in one year by $2.4MM
- Reduced product defect rate by 1.5% through process reengineering
- Mentored 3 subordinates enough to get all of them promoted
Impressive fella, no? Of course you’d hire him, right? Here’s the problem – no context. What if he provided context on his resume and it looked like this:
- Improved business unit profit in one year by $2.4MM on a base of $3.1B
- Reduced product defect rate by 1.5% from 10.50% to 10.34% through process reengineering
- Mentored 3 of my 375 subordinates enough to get all of them promoted
A little less impressive, huh? A whopping 0.08% profit improvement, 1.5% OF 10.5% (not a 15% reduction but a 1.5% – the denominator matters) and a tremendous 0.8% promotion rate (I wouldn’t want to work for this guy).
Context is critical. If you’re a hiring manager and don’t see context, ask for it. It might be very impressive. Then again, it might not. If you’re writing your resume and want to showcase how you graduated 3rd in your class, you might consider the following:
- If it was 3rd of 1,003, ensure your class rank is prominently displayed under “Education”
- If it was 3rd of 13 because you, like John Mellencamp, were born in a small town, you might consider highlighting your 3.95 GPA instead
I’m not the only one who espouses this approach. Check other sources – a lot of the same thoughts are presented there.
Provide context. Good hiring managers are going to ask for it anyway. And if you’re hiring, be sure to ask for context – otherwise you might hire the guy who gets you the 0.08% improvements…
– Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC