Category Archives: Résumé Writing

Do spelling errors and typos matter? According to more than 8,635 voters, not so much

I’ve found that my spelling errors and errant typos have gotten increasingly worse over the years. Is it because most platforms have spellcheck and alert me to my mistakes, thus making me lazy? I hope it’s the technology and not my waning memory.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Do you find yourself misspelling words and making silly typos? If you do, you know how it feels to see them on the screen after you’ve published your posts or articles for the whole world to see. It might be cause for you to stop writing all together. Don’t let your mistakes get to you. You’re not going to be judged as harshly as you think.

A poll I conducted on LinkedIn surprisingly resulted in a mere 12% of voters who are intolerant of spelling errors and typos. The remaining 88% will allow a few or more mistakes in people’s writing. In fact, 55% of voters answered yes to, “Hey, everyone is human,” meaning that more than three is acceptable.

For the majority of voters who don’t expect perfection might imply that content is the key. A few or more mistakes can be overlooked. Another message I derived from the poll is that it depends on where the mistakes are made. For example, resumes and cover letters must be devoid of spelling errors and typos.

Not on resumes and LinkedIn profiles

Good resume writers are careful to deliver flawless products to their clients. Case in point, Erin Kennedy writes: “Well, as a writer I am probably the hardest on myself–but I’m hard on my staff as well. Our job is to write for other people so mistakes aren’t an option. In other jobs, it may not be as important.”

TIINA JARVET PEREIRA concurs: “It’s important to have a resume that looks clear and is without typos. In my job as a Headhunter I would ask the candidate to correct the typos before passing the resume to the Hiring Manager. It gives a better first impression.”

The strongest argument comes from Wendy Schoen, who writes: “I believe that your resume reflects your character. If you do not take the time to make sure that the product (the temporary stand-in for YOU) is fantastic, what am I, the hiring entity to think of the “real” you? Of course, in the long run it does depend somewhat on the industry, but my feelings as a recruiter transcend the industry.

“Take that extra moment and have someone else proof your product before unleashing it on the world…

BTW, it isn’t just misspellings. It is also the improper use of “s” and “‘s” after numbers on a resume that turn me off.”

And for those who write their own resumes, they should carefully proofread them. In fact, job candidates should have others review their resumes and cover letters. We know that once we miss a mistake two or three times, forget about noticing them. But others will.

Okay in articles and posts?

My insecurities began to arise as I re-read some of my articles and noticed said mistakes. Grammar isn’t as much of a problem, but spelling and punctuation errors spring up like dandelions; no doubt a matter of not proofreading or having someone do it for me before sending my content live.

Erica Reckamp assuages my insecurities, writing: “Ideally, if it’s public-facing or client-facing, our content would be subjected to another round of edits, but posts/blogs are understood to be fairly free-form and it is my impression people would rather have timely, raw content than ‘airbrushed’ content.” (Read the rest of her comment below.)

You might think this is a simple topic, perhaps one that only English teachers would appreciate. Au contraire. At this point in the poll–with four days left–8,011 people have voted and 444 of them have commented.

Let’s not forget grammar

You can be the best speller in the world, but if your grammar sucks, you’ll lose your audience very quickly. Verb tense, punctuation, point of view, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, propositions, conjunctions; am I leaving something out? There’s just too much to remember.

Victoria Ipri didn’t forget grammar: “I fall somewhere between the 1st and 2nd choices. It’s not only spelling that is a problem, it’s grammar too. I’m not the grammar police, but do feel when the writing is for a professional or business document (from resumes to blogs), those who lack spelling or grammar skills should consider tapping a proofreader. (By the way, I own a shirt that says ‘I’m silently correcting your grammar.’) 😨

The fact is that sucky grammar can be more of a turnoff than poor spelling and typos. I’ve read books that contained mistakes but were so compelling that I glossed over spelling errors and typos. Thanks for bringing this up, Victoria.

There were so many excellent comments. Let’s look at some of the standout ones.


Chris Hogg: “You say, ‘I wonder if this makes me less credible as a writer.’

“I don’t think it does, but it does indicate that you need to take more time before hitting the send key.

“Why not write an article, post, resume, whatever, and let it sit for a day or two while working on the next one, and build up a small backlog that you can proof before rushing to publication.

“Also, there is a ‘rule’ in writing/publishing that once a gremlin gets into our stuff, it’s almost impossible to get it (or them) out. This is why editors and proofreaders have jobs, because they can see what we cannot.”

Ed Han (He/Him): “I competed in spelling bees and was an English major.

For me it depends on the medium, *if it’s a medium that doesn’t have built-in spell check*. Most modern web browsers do, as does every major mobile phone. So ignoring the red squiggly line on those platforms is potentially problematic to me.

Otherwise? We’re all human, and being a jerk about this stuff–or really any stuff–isn’t my idea of good networking.

🔹 Angela Watts 🔹: “It really depends on the role for me.

“If the person will be involved in developing corporate communications, I’m going to need to see a pattern of mostly flawless writing. If the individual is C-level and will be communicating directly with top tier partners, investors or customers then there is a need for error-less writing (which may be achieved by having others proofread it first). If accuracy is a critical element of a role (like in an Accountant position), typos could indicate deficiency in this skill.

“Presentation matters, but perfection does not. We should strive to write well and give ourselves (and others) grace when we make mistakes.”

Erica Reckamp: “Communication is the goal and content outweighs polish, in my opinion. If the errors obfuscate meaning (alternate word or wrong URL) or perpetuate more errors (candidate scripts with errors), then it’s more of a concern. If they’re little glitches, most readers will gloss right over them.

“Ideally, if it’s public-facing or client-facing, our content would be subjected to another round of edits, but posts/blogs are understood to be fairly free-form and it is my impression people would rather have timely, raw content than ‘airbrushed’ content.

“As a former editor, I’ve had my fair share of contacts apologize profusely for a typo. They assume we’re out for blood, but even in books released through major publishing houses, you can find 4 errors per page if you know the style sheet. We get it the best we can in time for release, so the ideas shine through! Then you just have to let it go until the next round of edits”!

Kevin D. Turner: “Passion, Caring and Knowledge Sharing to me Bob is the most important components of writing that I’ll read. You always deliver all of that. A bit of spelling or grammar issue I will forgive to get to the right valued message, especially in this global world. That being said I write and can’t read between my own mistakes, too hot and too close to the subject, so I’ve started to use a few tools to double check before posting.”

MARY FAIN BRANDT: “As someone who has dyslexia, I often overlook spelling errors, even though I know how to spell.

“Just the other day, I was proofreading an social post, which I had read 3 times and I caught another typo.

“What’s worse is that when I was younger, I had dyslexia of the mouth, I would change the order of words or letters and not realize it. one time I asked my mom if we could get fable mudge cake mix…3 times in a row.”

Paula Christensen: “I’m surprised by the 12% (so far) one error and done votes. I suspect with the current low unemployment rate and hiring difficulties that many more errors are being accepted. My personal view- everyone makes mistakes so a few less egregious errors are okay, more than three may signify the candidate didn’t take the time to present professionally.”

To bold or not bold text on your resume and LinkedIn profile: 63% of voters opt for bold text

I’ve been a proponent for a long time of writing some of the text on job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile) in bold. I stress some of your text, not all of it. Because to bold all the text would diminish the impact of your sentences. It would be like having too much frosting on a cake.

I’m not alone in my preference for bold text. A poll I recently conducted says that 63% of voters favor using bold text on their resume. This poll garnered 4,564 votes, so we could say this is a valid case study. Some of the comments are listed below.

To be clear, I’m not talking about just the documents headings or your titles. I’m talking about select text to which you want to draw the reader’s attention. Text you want their eyes to settle on like:

𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘆 $𝟭𝟬𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 over the course of 2 years by bringing social media campaign in house; revamped the campaign while 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘂𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘁.

This is important for one obvious reason. It’s said that hiring authorities take six to 10 seconds to glance at your resume after it has been stored and accessed from the applicant tracking system.

This will help hiring authorities to capture important text on your resume within the six to 10 seconds and decide whether it goes in the “must read pile” or the “don’t read pile.”

Do you think recruiters and HR will take minutes reviewing your resume when they first receive it? No, the lives of these people who hold your future in their hands is hectic to say the least. Some recruiters say they spend most of their days reading resumes to determine if people like you will advance to the next round.

When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, bold text also draws readers’ attention to important points you want to make. I use bold text in my Headline and About section.

Example: 👊 I’m on the front-line fighting 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 for job seekers. For a little emphasis, I use the fist emoji; something you wouldn’t do on your resume. If you’re wondering how to employ bold text on your LinkedIn profile, here’s a site I use: https://lingojam.com/BoldTextGenerator.

This brings us to another reason to use bold text on your documents; it helps to highlight important information, particularly information relevant to the job ad. It reminds the reader of the major requirements, if you will.

The naysayers to bold text on their resume and LinkedIn profile think it’s nontraditional, just like using sans-serif font in nontraditional. Here’s some news for those people; if you’re using Times New Roman, you’re dating yourself. Perhaps there will be a time when not using bold text will be nontraditional.

Let’s read what others feel about using bold text.


Kevin D. Turner: If 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱 is used, IMO it must be sparingly, perhaps to highlight a few of the really big achievements, Bob, otherwise it can get a bit messy and if almost everything is 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱, there is then no emphasis.

Tejal Wagadia (She/Her): I don’t particularly like bolding. It takes my eyes away from what I am looking for. If I have downloaded resume that has bolding I will remove that formatting.

I have seen it done well a few times but most of the times it’s random bolding with no rhyme or reason!

Bernadette Pawlik: If a client who comes to me as a #CareerSTrategist wants to know how to use bolding, my advice is based upon 25 years of evaluating resumes as a career recruiter. Having evaluated thousands of resumes, what makes it resume instantly easier to consider first is being able to find what I needed: Name, Experience, Education. Bold those in all caps.

Then, after that I look for chronology, so employers, bold those but not in all caps. Then, I read the rest. I see resumes that are bolded in mid-sentence to accentuate an accomplishment.

Accomplishments should go in bullet points. Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer who also has extensive recruiting experience has some great samples of resumes on her website which show how to use bolding, color, and italics…and I’ve spoken to Donna and we have no affiliate relationship..but her resumes make finding what recruiters/employers need to find wonderfully clear.

Erica Reckamp: Strategic bold, bullets, and shading allow key elements to pop off the page for stronger reader response and retention.

Stand out as a top candidate by highlighting your headline (demonstrate clear target and alignment), keyword bank and job titles (establish candidacy), and key phrases in accomplishments (preferably results: # s, $s, %s).

LAURA SMITH-PROULX: Bold text in a resume works very well, but only IF you limit it to notable career stories and IF you avoid drawing attention to items you’d rather not emphasize.

I see resumes all the time that apply bold text to “unfortunate” facts in a work history, such as dates that make you look like a job hopper. Go ahead and apply bold, but think carefully about the message you’re sending when doing so.

Sarah Johnston: The goal of the resume is to make it easy for the end user to consume your story. Design elements such as bolding, shading, and call out boxes (used sparingly) make the resume easier to read. Resume writers are also trained to use design to “trick the eyes” to read what we want the target audience to read.

Ed Han (He/Him): Absolutely yes on my own and I counsel the same to draw emphasis to proper nouns, names, brands, technologies (in IT), or anything else salient.

I also use them to call out hyperlinks, which I use incessantly for schools, former employers, trade associations, certifying bodies, etc.

The vast majority of resume reading takes place on a screen: optimize for this reality.

Adrienne Tom: Bolded text can help key content pop off the page. The important thing to remember is to only highlight top/best/relevant information and details. Be strategic with what you bold in a resume. Too much bolded text will cause key points to blend together again.

Angela Watts: As a screener, I’m drawn to read bolded text, even when doing an initial skim. If used well, it can encourage a reader to digest compelling content they may otherwise have missed.

Donna Svei: Bold narrative text jerks the reader’s attention around the resume in a graceless fashion, says “this is the only information in this document that matters,” and begs the reader to look at it. Thus, it signals desperation and lack of confidence in your story and story telling ability.

Story telling is a key leadership skill. If you want a leadership role, don’t use this awkward device on your resume.

7 ways to make your resume easier for hiring authorities to read

One thing my wife and I disagree on when we go on vacation is whether we should make the bed when leaving a hotel. I tell her that the kind staff would rather we don’t make the bed, because if we do it’s more work for them.

I try to convince her that the staff who make our bed before we arrive for vacation, and while we’re there, make hundreds of beds. It’s easier for them if we leave the sheets and covers on the floor. She insists it’s better to leave a good impression than leave the bed unmade.

Similarly, hiring authorities read hundreds of resumes per week. You need to make reading your resume as easy as possible for them. Making it easier for them to read your resume depends on seven factors.

1. Make the paragraphs short

I tell my clients that readability is a big sticking point for me. I’m opposed to 10-line paragraphs, as they’re difficult to read. In fact, I won’t read them. The important information they’re trying to convey gets buried in all that text, much of which is usually fluff.

Instead, they should write paragraphs that are 3 to 4 lines each. When we read we digest information easier if the text blocks are shorter. This is important if you’re trying to make a hiring authority’s job easier.

  • You should use bullets to highlight your accomplishments and, again, the lines should be short, no more than 2 lines at most. One line can suffice in some cases.

You’ll note that none of the paragraphs in this article exceed four lines; most are three or two lines. My valued LinkedIn connection, Donna Svei, reminds us that resumes aren’t only read on the computer screen. She writes:

A big trend impacting all content consumption, resumes included, is the practice of using mobile devices as people’s preferred reading platforms.

Thus, your resumes needs to be easy to read on a phone. Send your resume to yourself, open the file, and make sure you can easily read it. Check for:

  1. White space.
  2. A font suited to being read on a mobile phone, such as Calibri.

Adequate font size. I like 11-point.

2. Prioritize statements

This means strategically placing on your resume the information relative to the job ad in order of priority. You want to make it easier for the reader to see that you meet the requirements of the job.

This applies to every section of your resume, even your Education section. For example, if you notice in the job ad that a Bachelor’s degree is the first or second requirement, strategically place your Education section under your Summary.

In the sections below, I’ll talk about resume areas where you can prioritize statements, starting with the very next one.

3. Use a Headline

Only professional resumes, it seems, have a Headline that brands them. You can call it a branding Headline if you will. It simply tells the hiring authority the title for which you’re applying and some areas of expertise. Here’s an example for a candidate applying for a Project Manager position.

Project Manager
Operations Management | Team Building | Lean Six Sigma | Business Development

Prioritize statements in your Headline. With the example above, the project manager identified Operations Management, Team Building, etc. as the important areas of expertise in order of priority. This makes it easier for the hiring authority to place your qualifications with the requirements of the job.

4. Point out your relevant accomplishments

Have you ever read a resume and said to yourself, “So what.”? You don’t want the hiring authority saying the same to themself. Rather, you want them to say, “Exactly, this is what we need.”

In the job ad you noticed that the marketing manager position requires a candidate who can lead a team of more than 5 staff, coordinate multiple projects with sales, and oversee external communications on a global scale.

Start of by highlighting your relevant communications in your tailored Summary statement:

Meets deadlines while leading teams to communicate companies’ external global communications.

Expand the broad accomplishment you mention in your Summary, making it one of the top bullet points in your Experience section:

Earned accolades for leading a team of 10 to meet deadlines—coordinating projects with Sales department—producing compelling external communications.

But wait; the job ad also states the successful candidate will have to manage the team, on a limited budget, to revamp the company’s social media campaign. You’ve successfully done this, so you write:

Saved the company $100,000 over the course of two years by bringing the social media campaign in house; revamped the campaign while managing a team on a limited budget.

5. Keep your work history shorter rather than longer

You’ve accomplished a great deal in your 25-year employment history. Here’s the thing, employers are more concerned about what you’ve accomplished within the most recent 5-10 years. Anything beyond 10 years is probably irrelevant. I can hear the silent boos from my clients when I say this.

I understand their displeasure when I tell them to cut their work history to 10—okay 15—years. They’re proud of what they’ve done throughout their career, but they have to realize that their resume should be written for the employer, not them.

Am I saying that your resume must be one page long? No, the winner of page length is two pages by most career-development pundits. This article, which includes many resume luminaries, settles the great resume-length debate.

6. Include keywords

We can’t forget the keywords that will help your resume to be found when hiring authorities are searching the applicant tracking system (ATS) for winning resumes that will lead to interviews.

(There is much debate as to if the ATS automatically selects resumes to be read or if recruiters and HR do manually search for them.)

Most important, though, is that your resume is readable and demonstrates the value you’ll deliver to the employer. You can stock your resume with keywords, but doing so will make it negligible if your resume fails to accomplish the aforementioned.

Your keywords should be sprinkled throughout your resume. I tell my clients that the job-related and transferable skills should be highlighted in the Skills area, while the personality skills should be implemented in the paragraphs within the Experience section, NOT the Summary.

7. Bold certain text

You notice that certain text is in bold font. I’ve done this to make important points stand out. This is not uncommon in online articles and among executive resume writers. Using bold text is my preference providing you bold only the most important text.

Here’s the thing: when hiring authorities read your resume for the first time, they’ll spend six to 10 seconds scanning it to see if they’ll read further. As I pointed out, you want to capture their attention with important information you want them to notice. Your resume should go in the “must-read” pile, not the “don’t read pile.”

Want to read more about this, including quotes from resume writers and hiring authorities, read this article.


The argument of to make the bed or not after our hotel stays is not one I find worth fighting; however, I pity the poor staff who have to unmake and then remake the bed after my wife makes it. I also feel sorry for hiring authorities who struggle to find the value candidates offer as they read their resumes.

Make it easier them to read your resume.

Photo by Michael Burrows on Pexels.com

How a resume should be written and comments from 13 resume writers

By Bob McIntosh

It’s a fact that if you hire 10 resume writers to write your resume, you’ll get 10 different resumes. It’s also a fact that there are some traits of a resume that are universal. In other words, they are a staple of a resume.

The most obvious traits begin with a Summary statement that effectively expresses the value a job candidate will deliver to employers. Skills/Core Competencies required for the job at hand follow. Of course a value-rich Experience section and Education piece complere the resume. Or is Education placed at the beginning?

Bonus: a great resume writer will most likely include a headline or branding statement at the top of the resume. This is one addition that will give their clients a foot up on the competition.

In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, some of the best resume writers weighed in on what they consider to make an outstanding resume. I presented two resume groups, both containing some do’s, as well as some don’ts and asked which one they would select.

Thinking that most of them wouldn’t go with Resume A or Resume B, I gave them the option to choose Resume C, which essentially meant they could create a stellar resume based on the traits of the first two. They could also add others. Here are the two groups I presented:

Resume A must:

  • Brand a candidate with a value proposition or headline
  • Contain accomplishment statements with quantified results
  • Be no longer than one page
  • Have the Education section near the top
  • Utilize graphics and color

Resume B must:

  • Be readable with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines
  • Consist of bullets only, as they make a resume easier to read
  • Include a candidate’s entire work history
  • List the candidate’s home address in the Contact Info
  • Be written in sans serif font

Resume C must (voters could customize their idea of a stellar resume)

Surprisingly, only 39% of the voters chose Resume C; Resume A edged out Resume C with 43% favoring this group. Resume B only garnered 18% of the voters.

I was one of 101 commenters who added my two cents. I chose Resume C with the following traits:

  • Brand a candidate with a value proposition or headline. This is a two-line statement that includes the title from a job add and below that some areas of expertise.
  • Contain accomplishment statements with quantified results. Agreed, not always possible to quantify results with #s, $s, and %s but they have more bite to them.
  • Be as long as warranted, all within 15 years. If you have all accomplishments, your resume can be as long as three pages. Acceptation to the 15-year rule would executive-level job seekers.
  • Utilize graphics and color is appropriate. Graphics appeal to hiring authorities like visuals. However, applicant tracking systems (ATS) don’t digest them well.
  • Be readable with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines. No one likes to read 10-line paragraphs. Shorter ones are more digestible.
  • Be written in sans serif font. Arial and Calibri are most common these days. Times New Roman dates you.
  • Include in contact info your name, professional email address, LinkedIn URL, cell phone. Key is a professional email address that includes your whole name, not something like hotlegs@aol.com.
  • Must be ATS friendly. The only way to ensue this is by tailoring your resume to each job. A tailored resume will include the necessary keywords.

The fact that people were torn between Resume A group and creating their own Resume C group is telling. Maybe the traits of Resume A are acceptable, almost preferable. I found the one-page rule, for example, unacceptable. And placing Education at the top? This doesn’t apply for all people.

I decided to include in this article what some of the voters added in comments for this poll. You can read what others said by going to the poll.

What some voters said

Sweta Regmi: One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Have them at hello from the top part, would they want to continue reading? Hook them 👇 Use the marketing commercial of 10 secs to get them hooked and call you.

Less is more, make them curious to call you but don’t leave [out] crucial info related to JD. The education section depends on job descriptions and career level. Personal preferences here. The recruitment industry wants education on top. Coaches customize based on client’s experience and job descriptions.

Adrienne Tom: I can find potential hang-ups with both A and B, depending on the person and their career level. For example, a senior-level professional wouldn’t showcase their Education section near the top of the file (nor should they), and not everyone needs to stick to 1-page.

Listing a complete work history may not be relevant. Ultimately, how your resume looks and is formatted all ‘depends’. You are unique. Therefore, your resume will be too.

Lezlie Garr: I’m not really a fan of ‘musts’ for a resume, except for this one: a resume must be relevant to the position you are applying to. All the other details are subjective and variable, depending on how relevant the information is to the position.

These are some great examples of things that CAN be included, and some typically and probably should be included, while others can be used less often.

Maureen McCann: Every person is different. They deserve a resume that highlights what’s most valued about them. Some people have recent and relevant education, so if that was the case, I’d highlight that. Other people might have direct work experience. For them, I’d highlight their work experience, skills and time spent in the industry.

Derrick Jones: First “There is no one-size-fits-all” when it comes to writing a resume. Both use strong resume writing principles. I could use several strategies from Resumes A and B. It depends on the role and industry. The “No one-size-fits-all” principle is different from essential components of a resume which should have the right: 1. Content 2. Format 3. Design.

Virginia Franco: I’m with you Derrick Jones, CPRW/CEIP. Everything depends on the story and the job target. All my resumes, however, contain a headline and summary, and are designed to be read on mobile just as easily as in print.

Donna Svei: My sister paints. I write. Sometimes we explain how we do what we do to each other, but we both know we’re only scratching the surface. A resume “should” be written by someone who wants to tell a story in a way that will make others want to read it. If you let that be your guiding principal, you will write a good resume.

Loribeth Pierson: I agree with Donna, a resume “should” be written by someone who wants to tell a story in a way that will make others want to read it. Also, Adrienne has a great point, “Ultimately, how your resume looks and is formatted all ‘depends’. You are unique.” A lot of misleading data out there, which makes it difficult for the job seeker today. 🤷‍♀️

Scott Gardner: 👉🏻Brand a candidate with a headline, tag line and value proposition. 👉🏻Focus in accomplishments and quantify the results. 👉🏻As long as needed, but make sure to highlight the last 7-12 years, and have the rest just form the foundation of the career. Exception to this is an early career success that is truly impressive.

👉🏻 Leverage graphics and color as appropriate. 👉🏻Consumable content with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines and bullets at 1-2 lines preferably. 👉🏻Use a sans serif font. Contact info Name, email address, and create hyperlinks for the LinkedIn URL and cell phone.

The biggest thing is that these are all just general guidelines. A great resume reflects the candidate, targets their career goals, and speaks to the hiring authority managing an open position at a desired employer.

Julie Walraven: Many job seekers are confused by the misleading data out there on 1 page resumes and ATS-friendly to the extent that they eliminate marketability of the resume. The reality is that focusing on telling your story is key to creating readability and enthusiasm for you as the candidate. I agree with Erin Kennedy, MCD, CERW, CMRW, NCOPE, CEMC, CPRW that all bullets or all paragraphs makes for a dull and boring resume.

Gillian Kelly: Open with a powerful pitch that features metrics and branding, leverage metrics and storytelling throughout to leave the hirer in no doubt about your capability to do the role and potential value to their business, and optimise your content and design to work for both the reader and technologies. 

Note: Richard Grant’s and Wendy Schoen’s comments were outstanding but too long to include here. Please read them in the comments of the poll.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

It’s the LinkedIn profile over the resume by a landslide: 3,338 voters decide

Like a lopsided political race, this one is a landslide. I’m talking about a LinkedIn poll asking 3,338 voters to chose between keeping either their resume or LinkedIn profile. Which one wins by 72%? Why, the LinkedIn profile, of course. I’m not at all surprised by the result.

What I find interesting is that the voters opting for the profile seem to have forgotten that the resume is where it all starts; it’s the foundation of your LinkedIn profile. No one writes their LinkedIn profile and then their resume. No one has their profile written for them and then the resume.

It comes as no surprise

So why is the profile the favorite of the two? In three words: “It’s all that.” Let’s face it, the profile is more exciting. It’s, dare I say it, sexier. Your heart flutters a bit when you see a great background image and professional photo respectively.

There’s also the Featured feature, where you can see one’s video, audio, documents, and links to a blog. LinkedIn has improved this feature in both look and functionality. With just one click, you’re brought to a LinkedIn member’s website, audio, SlideShare, or document.

You’ll find none of this on your resume. The photo is the exception but only for certain occupations and foreign country.

Another attribute that barely makes it on your resume is personality. The point I make about your resume being the foundation of your profile is true. However, once you’ve laid down the foundation, you need to personalize it with first-person point of view. Call it your personal resume.

In an article I wrote that is still streaming out there, I point out the differences between the LinkedIn profile and the resume. Here are some sections/features the resume lacks:

Photos and background image, already mentioned, are major differences that are being utilized by increasingly more LinkedIn users. Rarely will we see the light blue (whatever it’s called) default background image.

Same goes for the ugly light-grey avatar. Increasingly more LinkedIn users have professional photos or, at least, selfies (a no no) to be more recognizable, trusted, and liked. There still are some LinkedIn users who don’t get it, but LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

Activity brings you to other peoples’ contributions on LinkedIn. They deliver you from a LinkedIn users’ profile to all their activity, articles (a dying breed), posts, and documents (what?). To me, this is where one shows their mettle; are they engaging with their network?

Skills & Endorsements and Recommendations I lump together because LinkedIn does—they’re located at the bottom of a profile. Endorsements are bling in most peoples’ minds, but the skills are what recruiters use to search for you.

Recommendations have lost the respect it had in the last decade. Which is a shame. If truthfully written, they can add a great deal to a job seeker’s candidacy. Recommendations used to be considered one of LinkedIn most valued features. Now it’s buried at the bottom.

In defense of your resume

In addition to your resume being the foundation of your profile—your profile shouldn’t be your resume—it serves a very special purpose, which is it’s required for a job search. I’m hearing the groans from the peanut gallery. “Networking will get you further in the search then your resume.”

This might be true, but the majority of the time you’ll have to submit a well-written resume even if you land the opportunity for an interview via networking.

Another key factor—and most resume writers will tell you—is your resume has to be tailored to each job for which you apply. There are two reasons for this. First, it has to get past the applicant tracking system (ATS). Second, it has to prove to the reader that you’re qualified f

A professionally written resume is a work of art. Having read thousands and written hundreds of resumes, I know the feeling of reading one that makes your head hurt. Many job seekers throw their resume together without thinking about five major considerations:

  • Length: too long, too short. There’s no solid rule on length but, generally speaking, it should not exceed the number of warranted pages. What warrants a resume longer than one or two pages? This is mentioned next.
  • Value add: means relevant accomplishments rule over mundane duties. The more accomplishments, the better chance you have of getting to an interview. Have you increased revenue, save cost, improved productivity, etc.?
  • Readability: three- to four-line paragraphs are the limit. A resume with ten-line paragraphs will be thrown in the proverbial circular file cabinet. Who wants to read a dense resume after reading 25 of them?
  • Fluff: “dynamic,” “results-oriented,” “team player,” are but a few of hundreds of cliches making the rounds out there. Stay with action verbs and do away with adjectives.
  • Branding: means your resume is congruent with your overall message of the value you’ll deliver to employers. This message needs to be delivered throughout your document.

The final point

I’m not foolish enough to believe that all things were equal in this poll. Those who voted for the LinkedIn profile are probably gainfully employed and have no use for their resume at this point. I voted for the profile because I benefit from it far more than my resume.

The question I ask myself if I were unemployed, could I rely on my LinkedIn profile alone to land me an interview? My course of action would be to take a more proactive approach and network before and during applying online.

Another consideration is how consistent is my profile with my resume. I believe that other than it being more personal and telling a better story, my profile is consistent with my resume. No surprises there. Final decision: I choose my profile over my resume.

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

Reading a Resume

The second fact is that, although the résumé and LinkedIn profile are trying to accomplish the same goal, show your value; they are different in many ways. One of my pet peeves is looking at a copy and paste of the résumé to the profile. It’s just plain wrong, and you’ll see why as you read this article.

LinkedIn Logo longPurpose of each document

Résumé

Your résumé is most likely the first document hiring authorities will see, so your value-add must make an immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting interviews are very slim.

You will send your résumé in response to a specific job. As such, it must be tailored to each job and contain keywords. Failing to do this will adversely impact your résumé’s chance of getting past the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Lastly, you use push technology with your résumé; therefore far fewer hiring authorities will see it.

LinkedIn profile

Your consistent message of value-add demonstrated through your résumé carries over to your LinkedIn profile. Your profile is NOT focused on a specific job; it is static and more general.

Most likely you’ll have a résumé constructed before you build your profile. Therefore, the stronger your résumé, the easier to build your LinkedIn profile.

You rely on pull technology with your profile, as hiring authorities find you by entering your title, areas of expertise, and location if relevant.

Comparing the two

I’ve broken down the sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile to compare them side-by-side.  It’s easier to see the differences this way. As mentioned earlier, it’s similar to comparing apples and oranges.

Note: Sections 1 through 6 are those which both documents possess. Further down this article are sections the LinkedIn profile has and most likely the résumé doesn’t.


1. Headline

Résumé: A headline tells potential hiring authorities your title and a line below it your areas of expertise and perhaps a two-word accomplishment (Cost Savings) in approximately 10 words.

It is tailored to the job at hand, like most sections on your résumé. Most executive-level résumés have a headline.

LinkedIn profile: Similar to your résumé, a headline will tell hiring authorities your title as well as your major strengths. It is more general and includes more areas of expertise.

One benefit I see with the profile headline is it allows more characters to work with than the résumé. You have a little over 200 characters or slightly more than 35 words. If you want to include a short branding statement, this could be a nice touch.


2. Summary/About

Résumé: The résumé’s Summary sometimes gets overlooked in a hiring authority’s rush to get to the Employment section. The key to grabbing their attention is creating  accomplishment-rich verbiage, such as:

Operations manager who consistently reduces companies’ costs through implementing lean practices.

There are two other points I emphasize with my clients. The first is that the Summary should not exceed 110 words or three lines; the shorter the better. The second is there should be no fluff or clichés included in it. Instead of using adjectives, employ action verbs that do a better job of showing rather than telling.

LinkedIn profile: Your profile’s About section will differ from your résumé’s Summary for a number of reasons.

  1. It allows you to tell a story that can include the, Why and What, Who, and How. In other words, why are you passionate about what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it.
  2. Similar to your résumé’s Summary, you should list accomplishments that immediately speak to your greatness.
  3. Your About section is written in first- or third-person point of view, giving it more of a personal feel than your résumé’s Summary.
  4. It is significantly longer. You’re allowed approximately 2,600 characters to work with, which I suggest you use, providing it adds value to your profile.
  5. Finally, you can highlight rich media such as video, audio, documents, and PowerPoint presentations in the Featured area.

Read this article that describes how to craft a kick-ass About section.


3. Core Competencies/Key Skills

Résumé: Here’s where you list the core competencies or key skills for the position you’re pursuing. These skills are specific to the position for which you’re applying. You can also include skills that might be tiebreakers. Nine to 12 skills are appropriate for this section.

LinkedIn profile: This section is located further down your profile; whereas it’s typically placed under the Summary on your résumé. However, I wanted to discuss this out of order, as this is the closest section to Core Competencies.

List your outstanding technical and transferable skills in the Skills and Endorsements section, which is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé, with a few major differences:

  1. You can be endorsed for your skills. There is debate as to the validity of endorsements, but they can be legit if the endorser has evidence of the endorsee’s skills.
  2. You are given up to 50 skills to list. I suggest listing skills that are related to your occupation.
  3. When applying through Easy Apply in LinkedIn Jobs, they are one criterion by which your candidacy is measured.

4. Experience

Résumé: Job-specific accomplishments effectively send a consistent message of your value. While a show of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes. Provide quantified results in the form of numbers, dollars, and percentages.

Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.

Better: Increased productivity 58% by initiating and implementing – 2 weeks before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system. 

LinkedIn profile: Your Employment section will be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Another approach is to copy what’s on your résumé to your profile, but that lacks creativity.

I also point out to my clients that they can personalize their LinkedIn profile’s Experience section, which is not commonly done with their résumé. One approach is to write your job summary or mission in first-person point of view. Following is an example from Austin Belcak:

I teach people how to use unconventional strategies to land jobs they love in today’s market (without connections, without traditional “experience,” and without applying online).

My strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., Fast Company, and more. My students have landed interviews and offers at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Deloitte, Accenture, ESPN and more.

Read this article on 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section.


5. Licenses & Certifications

Résumé: This section is usually named Training and if there are any certifications or licenses earned, they are mentioned here. I suggest that my clients list them above Education, as hiring authorities’ eyes typically go to the bottom of the last page to find Education. In some cases, especially with teachers, Certifications are listed at the top of the résumé.

LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn doesn’t see the placement of Licenses & Certifications as I do. On your profile they are placed below Education. This is not the point, though. One might wonder why this section even exists, as it is buried in the bowels of your profile.

6. Volunteerism

Résumé: I include this section because it’s a good idea to list your volunteerism, as it shows your willingness to help the community and demonstrates that you’re developing new skills. If you’re volunteering in your area of expertise extensively—20 hours—include it in your Experience section.

LinkedIn profile: This is a place for you to shine, in my humble opinion. The experience you list on your profile can be as serious and strategic as what you have on your résumé; however, you can also be playful. For example, two of my volunteer experiences are about coaching soccer and basketball.


7. Education

Résumé: Typically the résumé’s Education section consists of the institution, location, years of attendance (optional), degree, and area of study or major. You can include a designation such as Magna Cum Laude. Here is an example of how your education should be written.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

LinkedIn profile: Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the information they would on their résumé. This is a shame, as LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your educational experience.

Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time—a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for four years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.

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Sections more likely on your profile than your résumé

The following areas are most likely not going to be on your résumé; although, they’re not entirely out of the question. For instance, you might have a Volunteer Experience on your résumé, especially if your volunteerism is pertinent to your career objective.

8. Photo and background images

These two images are the first to brand you on your LinkedIn profile. They are what truly separate the profile from the résumé.

Résumé: A photo is not likely unless you are in acting, modeling, or perhaps real estate. I have never seen anything close to a background image on a résumé. However, graphics are common for graphic artists and other creative occupations.

LinkedIn Profile: The photo and the background image are a must for the profile. Discussing the profile photo with my clients is somewhat touchy, as the average age is 55. You know where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: without a photo, you will come across as unmemorable, untrusted, and unliked. What’s most important is that your photo is topical, current, and high quality. I’ve seen photos of older workers that make their profile pop.

The background image, if done well, can demonstrate your industry or personal interest. LinkedIn allows you 1,584 x 396 pixels in size.


9. Articles and Activity

Résumé: Nonexistent. Your Hobbies and Activities section would be the closest match, but there’s very little information included in this area compared to the LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn profile: Because LinkedIn is an interactive platform, your articles and activity will be shown on your profile. This is something I pay a great deal of attention to when critiquing a client’s profile. I like to see that they’ve at least been active four times a week.


10. Featured

Résumé: Nonexistent, primarily because this section requires access to links and downloads. Some job seekers will list a URL to their website, which is appropriate for people in the creative fields.

LinkedIn profile: This…feature…is not new; it’s just been enhanced. It previously had no name, but with the update, LinkedIn probably felt it needed to be named, as it wasn’t getting a great deal of play. As such, Featured no longer requires multiple clicks to get to the media you’re showing off.

What can you show off? You can provide links to video through YouTube and other sources; audio through podcasts and other recordings; PowerPoint presentations; documents; links to documents and your books. It’s a pretty cool feature, but is it being used to its capacity?

11. Recommendations

Résumé: Nonexistent, nor should they be included with your résumé. You might bring them to an interview as part of your portfolio, but to send them with your résumé just gives hiring authorities more verbiage to read.

LinkedIn profile: Where to begin? In short, one of the most important sections to be designated to the…you guessed it, bowels of the profile. What a gem these are in terms of branding you. Not only can you show hiring authorities how highly you’re regarded by people with whom you worked; you can write recommendations for your employees.

Read 5 reasons why LinkedIn recommendations should get more respect to get a clearer picture of how I feel about their treatment.

12. Accomplishments

Lastly we arrive at accomplishments, where so many great nuggets are hidden on your profile which could be included on your Résumé.

Résumé: Do you have a section on your résumé designated to outstanding projects? If you do, most likely it’s at the top just below your Summary section. It makes good sense if you want to highlight some of your greatest career accomplishments. Perhaps you have patents and publications listed on your résumé.

LinkedIn profile: Well, you can include the aforementioned and more; but in order for hiring authorities to see them, they’d have to be curious or you’d have to direct them to your Accomplishment section. I tell my clients to provide such instructions in the About section.

Write something in your About section to this effect: “If you would like to see how I raised 2MM in revenue for one company, scroll to the bottom of my profile where the project is listed in my Accomplishment section.”

Read How to direct visitors to LinkedIn Accomplishment section.

To further make my case, one of my dear connections was interviewed by Aljazeera America for his photography of homeless people and models in NYC. Naturally he has it listed as a project in this section. I had to write to him and advise that he include it as rich media in his About section. Here is the link to his awesome video.


Lastly…for real.

If you’ve read this far, I salute you. I would love to hear your feedback on this article, as well as know which you favor, the résumé or LinkedIn profile. By the tone of this article, I guess you know which one I fancy.

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers.

More than 2,000 people responded to a poll conducted on 6/29—2,236 to be exact—and 46% feel the Summary would be the one to go if given the choice between the three sections. The runner up is Education at 35% and the last chosen to be eliminated, the Skills/Core Competencies at 19%.

People of various occupations commented on their choice. They ranged from recruiters, HR, hiring managers, resume writers, career coaches, and job seekers. The people who voted ran the gamut and many of them left comments, some of which are listed below.

Why the Experience sections wasn’t included in the poll

It seems obvious why Experience wasn’t included as a choice of sections to excluded from a resume. After all, isn’t that where you tout what you’ve accomplished or at least outstanding duties you’ve performed, what employers are most interested in? Pretty much.

If there’s one argument for choosing Experience as least necessary, it would be if the job seeker is a recent grad and their most important section is Education. Even so, most college grads have some work experience during the summer or through internships. This was not a poll option.

Skills/Core Competencies win

I was surprised that Skills/Core Competencies was, in the minds of the voters, the more important of the three sections. Only 19% of voters chose to hack it from the resume if they had to.

Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture, agrees: “To me it’s the Core Competencies section, Bob. Simply dropping in a skill with no other context provides zero value to the reader.” He uses Data Analysis as an example of how the skill can be misconstrued between two candidates’ resumes.

Biron Clarke, founder at CareerSideKick.com, makes a good point about using skills within the Experience section: “I think you could work around having no Skills section, like Austin said. It’s more convincing to demonstrate your skills in your work experience section, anyway. (Via bullet points showing how you used each skill, etc.)”

Adrienne Tom, founder of Career Impressions, is another one who would eliminate the Skills section, albeit reluctantly: “As always, for me it depends. It depends on both the person and their application avenue. Some job seekers can share some really impactful details in a Summary to hook-and-grab a human reader. Others may need the Skills section or Education section to help with online applications. If I had to pick, I’d be okay with removing a dedicated Skills section and then weaving the skills into actual resume content.

Education comes in second

Education was a tough one for people to cut from the resume. For some, their education means a great deal to them. They attended a top-notch university and want to tout their achievement of completing their degree.

But how relevant is your education unless it is absolutely required for you to secure a position? A teacher at any level comes to mind. But many feel that it’s your experience that really matters, not the fact that you have a Bachelor’s.

Cynthia Pong, JD (she/her) puts it well: “Education would be on the chopping block for me. Where someone went to school can be a factor of many considerations – financial aid, geography, life circumstances – that have nothing to do with whether or not someone can do a particular job well.”

All too often I come across job seekers who are at the top of their game but can’t check off the education box and, therefore, aren’t offered an interview. Is this a way for HR to disqualify candidates from consideration? Perhaps. However, ask most hiring managers if they’d consider someone with experience but sans degree, they’ll take the former.

Summary would be the section to go

And the winner…or the loser is the Summary. This would be the first section to go. There are some well-respected executive resume writers who have said the Summary is no longer necessary. Some believe they add no value to the document, mainly because they’re poorly written.

Ed Han is a recruiter, and he agrees: “All things being equal: I consider the Summary least useful. There I said it. Most job seekers write their own resumes, and the ugly truth is that there’s a really good reason there are professionals who do make a living writing resumes. Many resumes are just not written particularly well, with the worst cases being little more than an excuse for keyword stuffing.”

Another career development pundit, Ed Lawrence, speaks of second-hand information: “I chose ‘Summary’ for this reason—a recruiter once told me he skipped the Summary section because it basically says we are all the best thing since sliced bread. If not for that, I would still be agonizing over Education versus Summary.”

But in defense of the Summary, this is a section of your resume that can clearly display your value statement and what you can deliver to the employer. As long as it’s brief and contains no cliches, I see the Summary as a necessary component of the resume. If done well it can capture the attention of the reader.

The problem with the Summary is that candidates treat it as a place to stick the sparkling words that ring hollow. We’re talking about words like “results-oriented,” “dynamic,” “outstanding,” etc. When someone leads with words like these, I lose all desire to read the rest of the resume.

Have we arrived again at the debate, “Is the Summary dead”? I hope not. I think a well-written Summary can be a great section in which to state your proposed value to the employer, as long as it’s brief, tailored to the position, and contains an accomplishment or two.


The people have spoken

When more than 2,000 people vote, we have a poll. As I said earlier, some of the most knowledgeable resume writers and reviewers have weighed in. Many of them gave excellent reasons for deleting one of the three sections. Some couldn’t choose, or didn’t want to. The fact is that all the three sections are required given most situations, if not all.

15 Resume articles that will help you in the job search

This compilation of resume writing articles is based on my and others’ knowledge of writing resumes that will get you to an interview. Read one or many of these articles. As I publish articles, I’ll add them to this compilation. Enjoy, and I hope the resume articles help you get to your next interview.

Starting with years of experience in elevator pitch and on resume could hurt you

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

The same principle applies to a resume; touting years of experience in the Summary doesn’t impress a reader. It certainly doesn’t impress me. And I imagine it doesn’t impress hiring authorities, as evident by a raging poll that is only two-days old on LinkedIn.

To bold or not bold text on your resume and LinkedIn profile: 63% of voters opt for bold text

I’ve been a proponent for a long time of writing some of the text on job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile) in bold. I stress some of your text, not all of it.Because to bold all the text would diminish the impact of your sentences. It would be like having too much frosting on a cake.

7 ways to make your resume easier for hiring authorities to read

Hiring authorities read hundreds of resumes per week. You need to make reading your resume as easy as possible for them. Making it easier for them to read your resume depends on six obvious factors.

How a resume should be written and comments from 12 resume writers

It’s a fact that if you hire 10 resume writers to write your resume, you’ll get 10 different resumes. It’s also a fact that there are some traits of a resume that are universal. In other words, they are a staple of a resume. In this article, I talk about the traits that stand out for a resume.

It’s the LinkedIn profile over the resume by a landslide: 3,338 voters decide

Like a lopsided political race, this one is a landslide. I’m talking about a LinkedIn poll asking 3,338 voters to chose between keeping either their resume or LinkedIn profile. Which one wins by 72%? Why, the LinkedIn profile, of course. I’m not at all surprised by the result.

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers

Does resume length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities say it does

Just when you thought the debate was over, a poll and 13 career authorities prove differently. Should a resume be one page, two pages, or three pages long? Or does it depend?

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination resume

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">What is a combination resume? Simply put it's a functional resume and chronological resume combined. Your LinkedIn profile About section satisfies the first component and, well, we know how LinkedIn's Experience section is a chronological format.What is a combination resume? Simply put it’s a functional resume and chronological resume combined. Your LinkedIn profile About section satisfies the first component and, well, we know how LinkedIn’s Experience section is a chronological format.

A decade has ended and now a new one is upon us, so what will 2020 bring in terms of résumé trends? One thing is for sure; if you plan to submit the same tired résumé for all positions, your chances of success will hover around zero percent. Some résumé trends will stay the same as they did in 2019; whereas others will change, or at least be reinforced.

Is it time to declutter your resume? 10 items to consider

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. Now, I’m asking you what has to go when you declutter your résumé. Here are 10 items you should remove from your document before submitting it for a position.

Store your resume and 6 other documents on your phone

Consider this situation: you’re hundreds of miles away from your computer, where your résumé is stored. A hiring manager from a desired company sends you a text that reads, “Saw your LinkedIn profile and am impressed. Trying to fill an operations manager position. Like to see your resume today.” The only device you have is your phone.

3 reasons why your resume alone will not land you a job

One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. There are NO guarantees that a resume will land you a job.

Is the resume Summary dead?

In this article, we take a look at the resume Summary and if it’s even useful. Experts weigh in. Result, most find the Summary a useful section to sell yourself early on. Others say to leave it off the resume, as they go directly to the Experience section.

45 resume words that need to be made extinct

There are a lot of words that should be left off your resume. Check out the list. Does your resume have some of the words on the list?

Does résumé length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities who say it does

As I was reviewing a client’s résumé, the first thing that stuck me was its length. It was four pages long. It’s not that I’m opposed to a four-page résumé. As I’ve said in the past, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” And I’m sure many resume writers would agree.

Page length was not my only focus. I also harped on the “so what?” factor. For each action I asked him, “What was the impact of your actions on the organization?” Did he save time, increase participation, improve processes, et cetera? Sure enough, there were some significant impacts.

By the time we were done, his résumé was a healthy three-pager. Are you thinking that three pages is too long? I don’t blame you for thinking that. Based on a poll I created on LinkedIn, the majority of people think a three-page résumé is too long. Who said the debate of resume length is dead?

The 1,007 people who took the poll certainly have an opinion.

The poll question was, “How many pages should a résumé be for someone with more than 5 years of stellar employment experience?” The possible answers were: “one page,” “two pages,” or “two or more pages.”

The clear winner was two pages, garnering 62% of the vote. One page came in a distant second place with 27%, and two or more pages came in last with 11%. I guess I lost big time; I voted for two pages or more. But as I’ve said, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” To a point.

Note: I also clarify by saying the work history must be within 15-years. You don’t want to go back 30- or 40-years in your work history and, thereby, produce a seven-page résumé or, more to the point, information that isn’t relevant and might reveal your age.


Here are some of the comments people posted with the poll. I hope no one takes umbrage with me for posting their thoughts. Of the 65 comments, I’ve chosen some of the ones that stood out.

Aiming for one page is a good exercise in writing in a targeted way and concisely. However, for many professionals who need a straightforward résumé to convey their qualifications for an area of expertise, 2 pages is sufficient and helpful. And, every once in a while, a 3-page résumé is warranted. (I feel the “boo” coming at me from some people in typing that statement.)

Rachel Akers

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, I completely ditto Rachel Akers. I rarely write a one-page résumé for someone with significant experience. As a recruiter, I always felt like I didn’t have enough info on a candidate for my hiring manager when there was only a one-page résumé. It left way too many questions.

Ashley Watkins

I completely agree with you, Rachel Akers and Bob. Résumé length is different for different people. For many, 2 pages are sufficient, but for some, the content may extend to 3 pages. My executive-level clients often need more, but the content is always strategically selected with the audience top of mind. Ask and answer: “does this detail matter to THIS audience?” If not, remove it.

Adrienne Tom

Agreed. I hate rules when it comes to page length, Bob McIntosh. Each person is different and has different types of experiences. We can’t box someone in with one page just because they have five-years experience. Some of the college/new grads I work with gained so much work experience in and immediately after college that it really breaks the one-page “rule”.

Erin Kennedy

It’s funny, one of the most frequently asked questions of Recruiters is about resume length. I think the answer is: It depends on how much experience you have. For a new grad, one page might be sufficient. For someone who has been in the workforce for years, 2+ pages is fine. Contrary to popular belief, Recruiters and hiring managers want to see details. Also, if we see a candidate that we like, we won’t be counting resume pages!

Cynthia Wright

I concur on page length in terms of capturing the right information, with the caveat to look at who is hiring you. A VP of Operations is likely to be hired by a COO, who is typically focused on details and may prefer multiple pages. Investors, on the other hand, want to see your ROI front and center. A CTO résumé need not take 4+ pages, as that individual will be hired by a non-technical executive. Ensuring the audience gets what they need is critical – and I always look at audience first.

Laura Smith-Proulx

I think it depends. No hiring manager dives into a stack of résumés thinking “Okay let’s find a good one-page résumé person to hire” or “Let’s find someone with the best 2-page résumé to hire”. It just doesn’t work like that. Some people are better off with a 1-page résumé. Some people will sell themselves better with a 2-page résumé. I think it shouldn’t be any longer than necessary, though If you can fit everything that’s relevant/important on one page, then do it.

Biron Clark

This one is a sort of depends answer. I can see a really good résumé for someone with five years’ experience be one page if all the information is very focused on a specifically targeted role. Generally, I would say two pages are okay if the content justifies it.

Shelley Piedmont

In my opinion the length of relevant experience, skills, education, etc are all factors. Generally 1-2 pages is good. I do not believe we should eliminate relevant content on a résumé for the sake of brevity, nor should we ‘fluff’ a résumé to reach two pages. Let the experience and goal drive the résumé.

Scott Gardner

I have operated in this field for many years. I believe you need 2 or 3 pages if you want a 60K Plus job. If you are working in retail. You only need 1 page. If you are Business Professional looking to Market yourself, you need a résumé that is detailed, has main keywords,and is attractive to the reader. I think that 2 Pages is sufficient. Three pages may be overdoing it.

David Dueh Chied III

Biron Clark, depending on the company, and the bandwidth of the recruiter, there just isn’t enough time to really review a complete résumé as it is — let alone make time to read multiple pages. In the end, the goal shouldn’t be to rely on your résumé being your ticket to hire, so don’t obsess over adding in everything.

Robert Liedtka, PHR

“Forcing the situation” to make all the information fit in only 1 page won’t really help the candidate in most of the cases.

2 pages is “normally” a good length to balance the most relevant information and its distribution in a nice way.

I normally think twice about going to the 3rd page – and try only to do it if all the information presented is really relevant and directly related to the next career goals, avoiding really old work experience in different areas, courses done +10 years ago, etc.

Juliana Rabbi

As a recruiter, I think it is short-sighted to hold by old rules. Rather than be constrained by page length, I like to see candidates use space effectively. If you are a seasoned professional – and have a ton of accomplishments that can’t be well articulated in less than 2 pages – then feel free to add that extra page. However, the real lesson is to use the space wisely and ensure you are listing accomplishments (as opposed to just job duties) in a succinct and impactful way.

Heather Spiegel

There you have it; opinions vary on how long a résumé should be. The majority of our experts feel that a two-page résumé is warranted, maybe even a three-pager, but there are some who prefer the one-page résumé due to time constraints. The résumé-length debate hasn’t died.

If you’re curious what some recruiters have to say about the topic, visit this conversations on Recruiters Online Facebook group. Many of them say 10 years is sufficient.

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination résumé

You probably know what chronological and functional résumés are. Now imagine the two documents joined together as one. What you have is a résumé that demonstrates your areas of expertise as well as your accomplishment-rich work experience.

Reading a Resume

A while ago I wrote an article on how your LinkedIn About section can be similar to a functional résumé. Now I’ll take the concept a little further by explaining how your About and Experience sections can resemble a combination résumé if done properly.

The About section as the résumé Summary and  functional area

You might have been told that the About section needs to tell a story, which it should. However, if you want to highlight your areas of expertise (the functional résumé), you need to make them blatantly clear.

Following is partial example of one of my client’s About section which closely resembles the functional piece of a combination résumé beginning with ► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS.

New technologies have the power to transform a business, especially when brought to market in the form of new products and services. That is what I enjoy doing.

Advanced materials and processes can form the basis for a product portfolio that will generate repeat revenues for years to come – if a company is able to leverage those innovations. I have been fortunate to participate in several technology firms where we did exactly that. Here are a few keys to our success:

► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS – of professionals who are leaders in their respective areas. Then, encouraging and rewarding them for their collective success.

► ENGINEERING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – that solve the customer’s problem, but also create manufacturing differentiators that will lead to follow-on production.

► OPERATIONAL SKILL – to simplify designs, improve on-time delivery, reduce rework and enhance efficiency.

► BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE – with more than 15 years of experience in technical sales and marketing of engineered solutions.

Differences between the About section and functional résumé area

1. Your LinkedIn About section is more than a Summary. There’s probably a good reason why LinkedIn went from calling this section Summary to About and most likely it’s because your About section can/should include elements of a typical résumé Summary and functional area.

2. No introductory paragraphs. Your résumé should not include the opening two paragraphs of your LinkedIn’s About section. There’s no need, or space, to explain the challenges of your industry, your passion, or a mission statement, etc.

Golden rules: résumé Summary is three or four lines at most, must grab the reader’s attention, and should include an accomplishment or two in order to show value.

3. Your résumé’s functional area won’t be as long.  The example above nearly reaches the 2,000 character limit. But the idea is the same. Under each area of expertise, you explain why they’re your strength in three or four lines.

The main reason why the About section is long is because your profile is a static document and therefore must cover more ground containing more information.

4. Tailor your resume’s functional area. Another difference is that your résumé will be tailored to each employer’s needs. Perhaps the employer is most interested in Team Building, Customer Relations, and Business Development. You simply highlight these areas on your résumé.


linkedin-alone

The Experience section as the chronological résumé

Now let’s see how my client’s Experience section clearly shows what he’s accomplished. (Again, this is a partial sample.)

A nice touch is how he breaks down his accomplishments by types, e.g., SALES GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, ON-TIME DELIVERY…

Led the transformation of this start-up, engineering research firm into a mature, product-based manufacturing business; sold the company; then helped to integrate it with a new parent company.

► SALES GROWTH – Increased product sales by 800%; now 87% of MSI’s total business.

► PROFITABILITY – Improved key production lines 30% by investing in Lean / Six Sigma / Kaizen initiatives.

► ON-TIME DELIVERY – Consistently achieved delivery commitments through tight-knit production teams, centralized reporting, targeted cross-training, and earned-value project tracking.

► HARVEST & DIVESTMENT – Marketed and sold the business. Leadership role in all stages of the sale process: selecting investment banker, identifying potential acquirers, preparing marketing materials, and communicating with prospective buyers.

► BUSINESS INTEGRATION – Successfully integrated MSI with new parent company. Retained customers while relocating and re-starting core manufacturing operations on the west coast.

Differences between the LinkedIn About section and Résumé Experience section

1. The value is clear. This position’s highlights clearly show value, as it is broken down into accomplishment types, e.g., SALES GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, ON-TIME DELIVERY…More so, the all-caps format makes it easy for the reader to see the accomplishment types my client delivers.

There really isn’t a distinguishable difference between the LinkedIn About section and résumé Experience section. Both should highlight accomplishments.

2. The length of my client’s Experience section for this job alone brings his combination résumé to two pages. He has two other roles as director of business development and principal engineer. In all, his combination résumé could be three-pages long, which is acceptable within a 10-15 work history.

3. The résumé Experience section must be tailored. It must be a reflection of what each individual employer requires. Your LinkedIn profile Experience section is static, like most other sections, so it has to cover a large swatch of value statements. Choose the ones that are of most importance to the employer.


If you need to revert from a chronological to a combination résumé, it would be a good move. Think about how your LinkedIn profile’s About and Experience sections are an example of how the combination résumé should be crafted.