Don’t kill yourself revising your résumé; 5 rules on how to put it to use

I’ve been helping a customer with his résumé. Originally it was a sound résumé but weak in certain areas. He lacked a branding title, so I suggested he use title similar to what he uses on his LinkedIn profile. He needed to tighten up his writing, pay attention to typos. I also suggested he quantify his results. Mission accomplished.

Shortly after our meeting, he told me he would send me his “next” revision in a few days. In addition to the changes I suggested, he said he prettied it up a bit. They were aesthetic changes that probably wouldn’t play a big role in garnering him an interview. He is suffering from résumé obsession.

While aesthetics are nice, your résumé needs to be much more impactful than pretty font, interesting layout, unique bullet points, etc. Here are five general rules about putting your résumé to best use.

1. Yes, a powerful résumé is necessary. A résumé should lead with a strong branding headline to capture the employers’ attention, tell them who you are and what you’re capable of doing for them. This is where you first introduce the job-related keywords.

Follow your title with a concise, yet grabbing professional profile. All too often I see profiles with lofty adjectives that have no meaning unless they’re backed up with examples. Your profile is the roadmap to your work history; whatever you assert in it, you have to prove in the history.

The work history must demonstrate accomplishments that are quantified. Employers are looking for numbers, percentages, and dollar signs. Having accomplished this, along with an education section, your résumé is ready to go.

2. It’s only one part of your written communications. Let’s not forget a well-written cover letter that grabs the employers’ attention with the first sentence. Forget the tired, “I was excited to read on of the project manager position at (company). Please find below my accomplishments and history that make me a great fit for this job.”

You have to show the employer you’re the right person for the job. This includes highlighting job-related skills and mentioning a couple of accomplishments. Like your résumé, the cover letter is tailored to each job.

3. Knowing your audience is key. Knowing who you’re sending your résumé and cover letter to is essential to your written communications campaign. Some of my customers are shocked when I tell them that they need to send their information to the hiring manager and Human Resources.

Further, they grapple with the idea of writing different verbiage for each audience. Whereas HR might be focused on determining that you meet the basic requirements, the hiring manager might want to know more about how you increased revenue by expanding territory in rural areas through utilizing a training program you developed. Net result, $249,000.

4. How you distribute it. It doesn’t end with hitting “Submit.” You can’t sit back and wait for recruiters and HR to call you for a telephone interview. Some believe that sending out five résumés a day is a personal accomplishment; yet they fail to follow up in a timely manner.

Worse yet, they don’t send their résumé and cover letter to targeted companies. This involves networking face-to-face or via LinkedIn to determine who the right contact is at the company. Distribute your résumé to the people who count, not individuals who are plucking your résumé out from an Applicant Tracking System.

5. LinkedIn is part of it. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to get onboard with LinkedIn. Go to Meg Guiseppi’s, C-Level Executive Job Search Coach, website to read about the importance of being involved with online networking. Countless success stories of job seekers getting jobs are proof that employers are leaning more toward LinkedIn than the job boards. They’re enabling the Hidden Job Market (HJM), and it’s time for you to participate.

Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your résumé (branding title, summary, work history, education) to a point. Each section on it will differ, plus there are applications and recommendations you can display on your profile that you couldn’t on your résumé. There must be a harmonious marriage between the two.

And, like your résumé, you must load your LinkedIn profile with keywords and phrases, and do it with frequency.

Fruitless pursuit. Trying to perfect your résumé and neglecting the aforementioned steps needed to make it work is similar to cleaning every snowflake from your steps and neglecting your entire walkway. A great résumé is what you aspire to create; a perfect résumé is not possible. Nothing’s perfect.

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About Things Career Related
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Follow Bob on Twitter: and LinkedIn:

8 Responses to Don’t kill yourself revising your résumé; 5 rules on how to put it to use

  1. Meg Guiseppi says:


    Thank you kindly for linking to my blog post about how recruiters find candidates on LinkedIn. You’re so right! If you’re an executive job seeker and you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re invisible to the very people who can get you into your next job. If you can only fit one social network into your job search efforts, make it LinkedIn.

  2. Yes, I agree. At some point your resume is very good and then it’s a matter of getting it into the right hands. We say the resume is a work in progress…true…but not revising it every day and failing to act.

  3. Rebecca says:

    After reading the article I realize that I am guilty of over thinking and over working my resume…I especially found the part in the article useful that talks about applying and then contacting the company.

    I need to put the contacting into action. What is a professional way to contact a company that is asking you not to contact them…and how long should I wait?

    • Hey Rebecca.

      In terms of contacting the company, don’t contact them if they tell you not to. This has been my experience, and I have heard others they’ve learned the hard way. One of my customers told me that if someone contacted them when told not to, their resume went into the trash. This would be a great question to bring up on LinkedIn through the Answers feature.

  4. Pingback: You’ll receive many opinions of your résumé; rely on 10 sure things « Things Career Related

  5. aly1jones says:

    Many of the companies always preferred to contact to their potential employee with the help of their resume. A well prepared resume has a huge impact on the person who is interviewing you, the above mention tips would really be helpful for those who are struggling to get a job opportunity.

  6. Pingback: 5 components of a résumé and LinkedIn profile that brand you | Things Career Related

  7. Pingback: 5 reasons to pay someone to write your résumé; and my thoughts on installing a screen door | Things Career Related

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