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.

=======================================================================

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.

Job-search from home with children: 6 tips on how to do it

Articles on working from home abound. There’s even a hashtag for working from home, #WFH. But there aren’t as many articles on job searching from home, #JSFH. Throwing dependent children in the mix adds a new dimension. Now we have a new hashtag, #JSFHWC.

Photo by Yan on Pexels.com

For those of you who fall under this hashtag know the complication of trying to find a job while also tending to children who are preschool age and demand your undivided attention, or are of school age and were home taking online classes. With school out, a whole set of issues present themselves.

I’ve been fortunate to keep my job (fingers crossed) thus far throughout the pandemic. I’m also fortunate to have two independent children living at home with my wife and I. My daughter goes to work at a farm and my son goes to work (at 12:00 pm) as a lifeguard.

When I’m on a Zoom call or delivering a webinar, they know well enough to be scarce. But this article isn’t about me. It’s about the millions of people who have to look for work while also caring for their children.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn asking people who are looking for work at home with children if they have a more structured schedule. Not surprisingly more then half of them said they don’t, only 33% said they do, and 14% said sort of.

I also asked the voters to comment on their situation. A valued LinkedIn connection who just went through a job search with her husband offers this sage advice:

My husband just spent the past 2 months job searching – with our kids at home. He had a very structured schedule which included time for job search, time for kids (as I remained working full time), time for himself, and time for other/home activities. It worked well as it ensured we all knew what/when was going on and could respect his focus – and he landed a new role 2 weeks ago. Was it always easy? No.

Adrienne

Fortunately for my valued connection, all worked out well for her husband and their family. He was one of the 33% who was able to structure his job search with some help from her, I’m sure.

One voter writes that structure can go out the window with children in tow. There are brush fires that always need distinguishing when JSFHWC.

I’d say one of the biggest things is permitting yourself to let go sometimes. If the kid’s laptop crashes, then you are IT support. Now! You have to let go of the idea that you can control your day like you can when you’re cocooned in an office with various types of support. Pair that with focusing on a limited list of “Gotta Dos” and you have a shot at meeting your goals for the day, week, whatever. (I use the hierarchy of “Gotta Do”, “Needta Do” and “Nice ta Do” for determining which tasks get done and in which order.)

Adam

These are but two examples of how #JSFHWC? has gone with two job seekers—one positive, the other not so positive. If you are struggling with this situation, here are some tips that might be of assistance.

1. Prioritize: set aside time for yourself

As my connection said, her husband prioritized his job search. This is essential if you want to stay sane and land a job. The first point she makes is that her husband made time for his job search.

It’s important to plan time for your job search and more important to stick to it. This might not come easy to you, but it’s a make or break situation.

A client of mine told me he gets up before the sun rises, gets on the stationary bike, and then dives into the job search almost before his children are screaming for breakfast.

Biron Clark, a career coach and former recruiter, reiterates the importance of setting some time aside for yourself:

Develop a plan and schedule that works for your life. You’re going to get better results in your job search if you’re able to put in consistent effort for at least a couple of hours per day without distractions. This can be difficult when you’re at home with your family, though. If you have children at home, think about whether you can wake up before them to get a few uninterrupted hours each morning. If that’s not an option, then think about another time of day. Either way, set a schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible.

2. Reach out to your support system

It’s also important to develop a network of people who can support you in your efforts. Another voter who commented said that he has support for the times when he has interviews:

I treat my job search as a part time job right now. Both our children are very young and not in school. My job search starts at 5:00 am to 7:00 am then picks up again at 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm 6 days a week. When I have an interview I have help from my neighbors to watch the kids. It takes a lot more planning and time management but we have found this structured schedule has worked best for our family.

Darrick

You might not be fortunate enough to reach out to your neighbors. Call on your family to see if they can entertain your children via Zoom or Facetime. What about your former colleagues, ask if they’d like to do some Kid Share; they entertain your children online or in person and you return the favor. Make sure to physical distance.

3. Rely on your network

Marie Zimenoff, who trains career coaches and resume writers, says when you’re networking to leverage them; don’t do all the work. You have to be explicit in what you’re looking for, including the companies with which you’d like to work.

If you are job searching at home with kids, start with the people that already know, like, and trust you (your Champions). Share your target list with them and ask them if they know anyone there (or who used to work there), if they have other organizations they’d add to the list, or if they have any other insights on the companies on the list. Don’t discount people before you give them the opportunity to help! You can use systems like Facebook or LinkedIn to help connect the dots between those Champions (who won’t mind if your kids are wild in the background) and the “weak ties” who are key to landing your next role.

Don’t let the fact that it’s difficult to reach out to your network in person deter you from contacting them. This pandemic has taught us that using modes of communication like the phone, video platforms, email and LinkedIn are essential. Those who don’t grasp it will have a hard time networking.

4. Use LinkedIn for more than its job board

What many people don’t realize is that LinkedIn is a powerful research tool that can help you locate people in your target companies. Your goal is to connect and develop relationships with as many people as you can in your target companies.

Sarah Johnston, an executive career coach, produced two LinkedIn Learning videos—one that explain the importance of making an extensive list of your target companies and the key players you need to connect with—and a second one that explains how to use LinkedIn’s search capabilities to find said people.

Also use the little time to make changes to your LinkedIn profile. You might be new to LinkedIn and haven’t polished your profile. This article gives you some ideas of how to update your profile during the pandemic.

5. Use the job boards sparingly

Too many people consider applying online as their primary/only method of searching for jobs. This is a huge mistake, as it’s been proven that the success rate is extremely low—5% is a conservative estimate.

This said, I tell my clients to use the job boards, e.g., Indeed, Monster, Dice, etc. sparingly. Set aside time to get on your computer and access your favorite sites. Or if you’re with your children outside, use the apps while keeping one eye on them and the other on the apps.

Couple your job-board use with LinkedIn. Like Sarah says in her video, LinkedIn can be a great way to find people on LinkedIn before or after you’ve applied for a position at a company.

6. Get outside

More than ever people are walking and running in my neighborhood. Fresh air and exercise do wonders, not only for your body but for your health as well. This is an acceptable part of your job search. When I was out of work, I increased my walking from 45 minutes to an hour. It was a great way to clear my head.

Take care of yourself. One of my LinkedIn connection, Vincent Phamvan, says it well:

Spend some of your time on activities outside of your job search. Spend time with family, take walks, try to eat healthy meals. This will keep you mentally fit and ready to rock your upcoming interviews.

Use this alone time to strategize about how you will tailor your resume to that position for which you’re perfect. Listen to books on tape regarding the job search or podcasts from my valued connections, Mark Anthony Dyson and Virginia Franco.


I have heard from job seekers that the pandemic has made it impossible to job search from home with children. Some have abandoned the job search entirely, relying on unemployment plus the $600 provided through the CARES act, which at this writing has stopped.

Career coaches can’t change the mind frame of people like this. Job seekers need to realize that unemployment benefits will eventually run dry, so they need to adamantly dive into their JSFHWC.

LinkedIn’s “Open to Work” is the winner of 3 new features for 2020

I am particularly fond of LinkedIn’s poll feature which has been brought back from the early years. With Create a Poll, you can ask LinkedIn members to vote on certain topics like which three new features They appreciate most–Open to Work, Create a Poll, or Add Name Pronunciation? This is the poll I conducted on LinkedIn.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

The winner (drum roll) was Open to Work, which baffles my mind. I thought for sure Create a Poll would run away with the crown. Not so. It only took 24%; Open to Work grabbed 43%; Add Name Pronunciation only 14%; and None of These Turn Me On, 19%.

My valued connection, Kevin Turner, has been keeping up with the changes LinkedIn makes for 16 years. His most recent release can be found here. This post was the inspiration for the poll I conducted.

Note: One change that’s not on Kevin’s list of 2020 features is the expanded headline character count. When I called him on this, he said he’d commented on it earlier. Bam, I stand corrected.

What’s so special about Open to Work?

That’s what I’m wondering. First of all, the banner is…ugly. I know this speaks more to aesthetics, but I can’t help but notice that it’s bold and reminds me of a green horseshoe.

Secondly, I don’t know what purpose it serves. According to LinkedIn:

If you specify the types of job opportunities that you’re interested in and your preferred location, we’ll help your profile show up in search results when recruiters look for suitable job candidates.

But will it work? LinkedIn tells us it will make recruiters aware of job seekers or freelancers who are looking for work. This makes me wonder if it only works for recruiters who use the Recruiter feature, or if it also works for hiring authorities who type in the Search feature “open to work.”

I typed this phrase into Search and found 14,000 people who had it in their headline, but not all of them have the border. So, apparently the banner is not necessary when you’re looked for by hiring authorities who type the phrase in Search.

Kevin further confirmed that only recruiters “who pay to play” have the ability to find job seekers who choose to turn on this feature.

To boot, there is some controversy surrounding this new feature. Some believe it doesn’t add value to your candidacy if you use it. It hurts your brand and recruiters are more interested in the value you’ll deliver, rather than the fact that you’re looking for work.

Sarah Johnston wrote a post that shares the above sentiment; she says when recruiters are looking for a qualified candidate and candidates sport the green banner, they aren’t impressed. She advises, “Instead of opening with ‘I’m unemployed looking for my next role,’ consider other ways that you can stand out or connect with decision makers.”

Polls are back

As I said earlier, LinkedIn had Create a Poll (they weren’t called this) years ago but discontinued the feature. Are they here to stay? I hope so; I enjoy posting a weekly poll as well as participating in voting when other LinkedIn members share them.

Along with casting a vote for your favorite answer, you can write a comment explaining why you chose the answer. Even though more than 100 votes separated the Create a Poll choice and Open to Work, I expected to see at least a few reasons why Create a Poll was their choice.

One thing people who’ve come across Create a Poll know is that they either work or they don’t. There are two reasons why they work: the question has to create interest and second, the people posting them have to have a large following. These are the only ways Create a Poll will work.

One correction LinkedIn should make to the feature is not letting voters see the results as they unwind. I think this sways people to vote a particular way if they’re undecided. What I found intriguing is not that Open to Work came in first and Create a Poll came in second, but that there were more comments (see below) for Add Name Pronunciation which came in third.

Speaking of the loser, Add Name Pronunciation

It’s no surprise to me that this new feature came in last. It’s nice to have your name pronounced correctly: I hate my last name pronounced, “Mick-in-tosh” when it should be pronounced, “Mack-in-tosh,” but I can live with it.

How it works is that a LinkedIn member can record a message of how to pronounce their name so when a visitor happens upon their profile, the visitor can click on the microphone and hear the message of how their name is pronounced. When you make the recording of how to pronounce your name, you can make it as personal as you’d like.

As I mentioned above, there were more proponents of this feature who took the time to write comments.

Seeing that I only recently got the poll feature myself, this is still novel. However, I really like the name pronunciation feature. I never want to mispronounce a name so I have often looked up correct pronunciations online. This feature will come in handy.

Adrienne Tom

One voter prefers Polls but selflessly voted for Add Name Pronunciation for her clients’ sake.

I enjoy the polling feature but of the three you mentioned, from a job seekers point of view, a few of my clients mentioned that name pronunciation had value to them.

Tara Orchard

I think one person voted for this feature because her last name has been mispronounced…by me.

I find “Add Name Pronunciation” interesting. A persons’ name is so important to them. Pronouncing it incorrectly can be such a turn-off. That’s why I like this one. It can be helpful when networking to confidently call people by name, knowing you’re saying it correctly 🙂

Maureen McCann

The people have spoken. Open to Work is the winner. I don’t agree with the decision. The feature might draw more attention from recruiters, but will it be positive attention? Will they click “next” upon seeing the green banner?

Create a Poll is by far my favorite feature, but some people haven’t even gotten it at this writing. The same goes for Add Name Pronunciation. When they get the two features, will the result be the same as the poll I conducted on LinkedIn?

7 easy ways to be proactive in your job search

Some job seekers tell me they turn on their computer every day to log on to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and other job boards. They spend hours a day applying for posted jobs, sending as many as 20 cookie-cutter résumés out a week, anticipating a call from a recruiter or Human Resources.

looking

To these job seekers I point out the futility of a job search like this, explaining that if they want faster results, they have to be more proactive. What they’re doing is being reactive and it ain’t working.

First I talk about the Hidden Job Market (HJM) which is a concept they understand, but I’m not sure they accept. When I tell them connecting with others is the best approach to penetrating the HJM, I can hear them thinking how difficult it will be to get outside their comfort zone, to get away from their computer.

The message I deliver is that they have to be proactive, not reactive. They have to take control of their job search, not let it control them. Here are five ways you can be proactive in your job search:

1. Get to know yourself

As odd as this sounds, many people don’t truly know themselves. I ask my clients to name their top 10 skills, and they have trouble coming up with five. You should make a list of your top 10 and provide a small blurb for each describing why they are.

Likewise, list some of your weaknesses. It’s important that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, better known as self-awareness. Keep in mind that good interviewers will not only ask about positive outcomes; they’ll ask about negative ones.

2. Put together your company target list

This is a task that job seekers often overlook, or they don’t see the value in it. Here’s where you put your job search into your own hands. You are choosing where you want to work based on your companies’ values.

Are you looking for companies that offer work/life balance, family-friendly policies, growth within the company, products or services that are environmentally friendly, a lively culture, a more professional culture? These are values you need to consider.

Now you can research these companies, keeping an eye on their growth. Identify the top players in the companies. Connect on LinkedIn with people who work for the companies. Build your foundation.

3. Send approach letters

These documents are sent to companies on your company target list. Here’s the kicker: no job has been advertised. (Advertised jobs represent only 20%-30% of the labor market.) You’re not reacting to an advertisement; rather you’re sending them unannounced.

Approach Letters are ideal if you prefer writing more than using the phone. Introverts may favor this way of contacting an employer. Whereas, extraverts may prefer simply picking up the phone.

The goal is to get networking meeting or better yet, chance upon a possible opening that hasn’t been advertised. You must describe your job-related skills and experience and show the employer that you’ve done research on the company to boost the employer’s ego.

4. Do some good ole’ fashion networking

Preface: with the advent of COVID-19, in person networking is not possible at the moment. Read this article on how job-search clubs are using Zoom at great success for networking.

Normally we think of networking as strictly attending organized meetings where other job seekers go, doing their best not to seem desperate. (I’ll admit that this type of networking is unsettling, although necessary.)

The kind of networking I’m referring to is the kind that involves reaching out to anyone who knows a hiring manager. Most of the people who contact me after they’ve secured a job tell me that their success was due to knowing someone at the company or organization.

You must network wherever you go. Network at your kid’s or grandchildren’s basketball games, at the salon, while taking workshops, at family gatherings—basically everywhere.

5. Consider volunteering as a way to find work

This method of being proactive works. Granted it is tough to work for free, volunteering offers great benefits. The first of which is it’s a great way to network. Think about it; you’re in a great environment to discover opportunities from the people with whom you’re volunteering.

Another benefit of volunteering is enhancing the skills you have, or learning new ones, to be more marketable. If you lack certain software, such as PeopleSoft, seek organizations that use this software or would like to implement it. Who knows; you may prove to be so valuable that you develop a role in their finance department.

Finally, volunteering is a great source of fodder for you résumé. I tell my clients that if their volunteer experience is extensive, they should include it on this document. Just write “Volunteer Experience” in parenthesis. 

6. Use LinkedIn and other social media outlets

I recently received an In-mail from someone who is currently working but is not enjoying her experience. I’ll keep my ears open for the type of position she’s looking for because she asked me to.

LinkedIn members who know the potential of this professional online networking tool reach out to other LI members for information and contact leads. Practice proper etiquette when reaching out to your connections. In other words, don’t request an introduction to someone the very first time you communicate with a new connection.

Another one of my job seekers is doing everything possible to conduct a proper proactive job search. He updates me on his job search and sends me job leads for me to post on our career center’s LinkedIn group. I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. He’s being very proactive by using LinkedIn and his vast personal network of professionals.

7. Follow Up, follow up, follow up

Allow me to suggest a must-read book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I think this guy gets more publicity from me than any author I’ve read. The reason I recommend this book is because none of these three proactive approaches are useful unless you follow up on your efforts.

Never Eat Alone teaches you how to network in every situation and then how to keep your network alive by following up with everyone. I mean everyone. Send an approach letter, then follow up with the people to whom you’ve sent it. Network face-to-face, then follow up. Connect with someone on LinkedIn…you guessed it, then follow up.

Of course you need to follow up after an interview. Many employers complain that candidates don’t send a follow-up note, and some candidates are eliminated because of this. So take the time to write a brief follow-up note. It’s well worth the time.


Being proactive sure beats the hell out of only reacting to jobs that have been advertised and are visible to hundreds, if not thousands of other job seekers. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and yields more results than exclusively participating in the visible job market. Being proactive makes you believe that the job search will finally come to a halt, that the job search is in your hands.

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.

It’s 50-50 between Zoom and LinkedIn when it comes to communication, according to 1,177 voters

Well, not exactly. In a poll taken on LinkedIn—in which 1,177 people voted—35% chose video platforms like Zoom to communicate, whereas 34% chose social media sites like LinkedIn. Where did the other 31% go? The two other options were telephone, 16%, and email, 15%*.

The poll ultimately speaks to how people prefer to communicate, whether they’re searching for a job, helping people find jobs, or working in business of one sort or another.

The winner goes to Zoom

Video conferencing has seen enormous growth. According to SkillScout.com, “The video conferencing platform Zoom has seen 200 million daily meeting participants on average at the beginning of 2020 compared an average of 10 million participants in December 2019.”

This comes as no surprise considering it became a regularity to many people since mid-March. Zoom dominated many video conferencing platforms like Skype and Webex if not literally but in our daily vocabulary. I find myself saying to colleagues and friends, “Hey, let’s Zoom.” It’s bad when a product becomes a verb.

A safe assumption as to why people chose Zoom and the like is because they prefer not only speaking to people, they also like seeing with whom they’re speaking. This is good news for Zoom because, according to the same source mentioned above, it has 41% market share.

LinkedIn rules…on LinkedIn

The poll question was not LinkedIn specifically; it was social media in general. I figure that because I conducted this poll on LinkedIn, people naturally assumed I was referring to LI. I’m sure if I conducted the same poll on Facebook or Twitter, all would assume I was speaking of those platforms.

One of my connections, Ana Lokotkotova, chose LinkedIn for practical reasons. She’s a career coach and it’s her first point of contact. She wrote:

I chose LinkedIn because that’s where most of those professional conversations start for me. Then I take them to email or Zoom, but the initial interaction happens mostly on social media.

The definition of “communication” can have different meanings. When we think of communicating with others, we think of direct messaging. But what about writing posts and commenting on posts written about others? Isn’t this considered communicating? I think it is.

The problem with communicating on LinkedIn is that people don’t often check their LinkedIn messaging as much as someone like me and many others I know. We also have LinkedIn set to send any messages to our email, so we never miss a beat. Nonetheless, email is a safer bet if you want to get your correspondences.

Telephone is preferred by a few

If you’re wondering why someone would choose the telephone option, one of my dear LinkedIn connections, Erin Kennedy explains:

If I am talking to clients (initial consultation) it’s over the phone. It would take too long with email. However, I like email for basic/quick communications, “What time would you like to speak? How can I help” etc. I sit in front of this computer all day so it’s pretty easy for me to answer emails quickly.

This makes sense if you’re an executive career coach and resume writer like Erin. Another executive career coach, Sarah Johnston, finds the phone more practical in her line of work and she enjoys the intimacy of using the phone.

I love the phone. I put on my Bose sound proof headphones (a must when you are working from home with “coworkers”) and can have a hands-free conversation. I’m often taking notes (job search strategy or interview coaching sessions) on a pad or typing away if I am doing a resume intake call.

The other thing about a phone is that you can say, “so how are you doing?” And get a real response AND give a real response. People want to work with multi-dimensional people. When writing an email, it feels so insincere these days to say “I trust this email finds you well” because well is pretty relative during a pandemic.

I wonder if people considered texting as a way to communicate before they chose Zoom, LinkedIn, or the phone. If they had, I’m sure more votes would have gone to the phone.

Email is consistent

Email came in last as a means of communication, barely beat out by the telephone. These means of written communication (email) and oral communication (telephone) were the cellar dwellers. Whereas the other means of written and oral communications (Zoom and LinkedIn) were the clear winners.

The final conclusion is that oral communication wins over written communication by one percentage point in all four cases. What does this tell us about humanity? Is it true that the disparity between extraverts and introverts is closer than many believe? Does it have anything to do with these two dichotomies?

Another close LinkedIn connection, Edythe Richards, chose email as her favorite means of communication. She’s an ENFP. The theory that extraverts prefer oral communications is thrown out the window in Edythe’s case. She commented:

E-mail here- and I’m very fortunate that although my day job uses Zoom, we rarely use video. So my wardrobe these days can’t be beat!

*In full disclosure, I chose email for a very clear reason: I prefer to communicate via writing. I wrote about this in a post after I had experienced an excruciating telephone conversation from which I couldn’t escape. I also prefer to return phone messages with email. In this way I have control.


I wonder if the results would have been the same if we were not going through a pandemic. Would people still be using Zoom as often? Or has COVID-19 caused social awareness in a technical manner. Has it replaced human interaction for the time being or forever? That would truly be a shame.

Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell

This is one question you must be prepared to answer in an interview. You might think it’s airtime filler for interviewers—a question to check off their list. Not so fast, there are times when interviewers are concerned. Very concerned. Here are three major concerns interviewers might have.

One of them might be if you’re changing careers. Another might be if your commute will be like 60 miles each way. The third, you’re willing to step down in title and salary. In all three cases, you’ll need to make a great argument for why you want the job.

You’re pivoting to a new career

In the minds of the interviewers they might wonder if your decision was thought out, or if this is the only option you have. You’ve exhausted your unemployment benefits and need a job quick could be another thought that crosses their minds.

I made a career pivot from marketing to career development. The thing was I sincerely wanted to get into career development. I didn’t hate marketing; I just wanted to help people land employment. So in my mind it was an easy sell.

In your mind, it needs to be an easy sell as well. If you’re tired of teaching high school physics and want to get into technical training, your answer to why you want the technical training position has to take the interviewers through your thought process. Here’s a possible answer:

While I enjoyed many aspects of teaching, I feel that training various departments and outside stakeholders will be extremely exciting. I know there will be travel involved, but I’ve always enjoyed traveling to other states in the U.S. as well as internationally.

And your product line is exciting. I can see learning more about video conferencing quickly. I’ve already used your top-line product in my physics classes. In fact, I had to teach other faculty how to use the product, in some cases in group settings.

If you have any questions about my transitioning from academia to the corporate world, I will embrace the excitement I enjoyed before teaching fifteen years ago. That’s one thing I really missed when I was teaching. Some of my colleagues (chuckles) would tease me about being so “corporate.”

It’s always been hard for me to make up stories. I believe this is true for most people. Point being is that you have to want to change your career. And, you need to know to which career you want to pivot. Don’t enter the interview like it just dawned on you yesterday that you want a new venture.

You’ll be driving to hell and back

The reality is that hiring authorities take a serious pause when they see you live, say, 50 or more miles from the company. I recall showing a recruiter one of my client’s resumes. He took two seconds to look at it before saying, “No good, she lives 50 miles from our company.”

Didn’t he want to see her qualifications? She was an engineer who knew the language the company was using, C++, and had experience with JAVA. In addition, she had security clearance, something his company required. Still, there was no chance she was getting an interview.

This won’t always be the case, but you will be asked the question of why you would want to work so far from home. Interviewers might wonder if you’re desperate for a job. Or they might think, “Yeah, Bob likes traveling 100 miles each workday. Put millage on his 2009 Honda Civic.” Not likely.

You have to have an answer for the recruiter whose first question will be, “So, I see you live in Lowell. Um, that’s 45 miles to Worcester. Why are you willing to travel this distance?” You’ll want to make this short and sweet, and be truthful.

I understand your concern. It’s a valid one. However, I’m used to traveling long distances haven grown up in the mid-west. A two-hour drive there and back was nothing. So a 50-minute drive really won’t be a problem.

In addition, the second job you see on my resume was a 100-mile round commute. I was never late for work, nor did I call in for a snow day during the three years I worked there. What it comes down to is I see this job as a great opportunity, which I’d like to talk about.

In this answer, the candidate negates the recruiter’s concern talking about having made a similar commute and assuring the recruiter that they were never late for work. This is a valid concern for hiring authorities. Make sure your answer is compelling.

You’re taking a step back and willing to accept less money

This scenario has been a common theme with my clients, as a majority of them are mid-management and above. In fact, one of my former customers took a position that pays him $20,000 less that what he made. He claims to be happy for a number of reasons.

First, he’s finally working. As someone who was out of work for more than a year, he was more than ready to be “on the job” again. This is what interviewers need to know; people who’ve been out of work want nothing more than to work.

Of course there are limits to which they will go. For example, they won’t take 50% of what they were previously making. This doesn’t make economic sense.

Second, his life style actually improved. The bills he had are no longer there. Car payments, mortgage, children’s tuition, all gone. Previously he drove 30 miles to work, which took him an hour and a half because of traffic. This equals work-life balance. Big time.

Third, he’s no longer at the director level. He’s an individual contributor responsible only to his manager whom he claims to like. In other words, he took a step back. What interviewers also don’t realize is that there are job seekers who don’t want the stress they once had to endure.

If you find yourself being questioned about why you’re willing to accept less salary and take a step down, consider your financial situation and career goal. The above scenario might fall in line with your life.


Of the many questions you should be prepared to answer, this is one that often gets overlooked. It takes job candidates off guard. But interviewers are concerned. They might think you’re a risk if you fall under one of these three categories. Be ready to put them at ease and hopefully mean it.

This post was inspired by a thought-provoking long post.

The LinkedIn profile Headline is the MOST important section, according to 46% of people polled

Wouldn’t you know it, the LinkedIn profile Headline is deemed more important than the About and Experience sections. In a recent poll conducted on LinkedIn, in which 1,189 people voted, 46% of the voters chose the Headline over Experience, 30%, and About, 24%.

I get why the Headline is considered to be important. It and the photo are the first things you see when LinkedIn members show up in places like your homepage stream, invitations, and People you may know on LinkedIn. And you don’t even see LinkedIn members’ whole headline.

There’s another point to consider, your Headline is weighed heavier than other sections of your profile including About and Experience verbiage; although it’s said that titles in your Experience section are weighed heavily as well. So build them up.

This is not an old debate. Many years ago, the importance of the Headline was discussed. I remember back then it was argued by many people that the Headline was the most important section of the profile. Now it’s official.

I assumed that given the fact that the About section is now its own section, it would be considered more important. I was wrong.

What is important is that you make your Headline worth reading. Simply leaving it at the default setting when you enter a position is not going to do it. It reads like: Purchasing Manager at ABC Company. There’s so much more you can add to the headline:

Purchasing Manager at ABC Company. Saving Costs, Boosting Productivity, Sustaining Supplier Relationships

You need to show the value you’ll deliver to employers. What sets you apart? You could go with keywords like: Career Coaching ✦ Interview Training ✦ CPCC/CEIP ✦ Resume and Profile Development

Or you could create some intrigue which is my intent with: FACT: being unemployed is no fun❗️FACT: it’s temporary❗️ FACT: I’m in your corner❗️ LinkedIn Trainer | Career Coach | Blogger | LinkedIn Top Voices 🏆 #LinkedInUnleashed

Maybe a tagline is your thing: Emotional Intelligence is the difference maker to bring humanity, humility, and heart into the workplace

However you choose to grab potential visitors’/connections’ attention is up to you, but one thing is for sure, the bland default Headline LinkedIn gives you when you start a new position isn’t going to cut it. I don’t think the people who voted for Headline were thinking this is the way to go.

Lastly, most agree that writing, Seeking Next Opportunity or any deviation of this is a no no. Simply stating your situation doesn’t show your value and it can be a sign of desperation. My solution to this is to write about your unemployment situation in the About section.


What about the About section?

This is where you tell your story. It’s a place to talk about the Why you do what you do, What you do, How you do it, and list some of your accomplishments. People have various ideas of how to write their About section.

One simple way to do it is to structure it after your Headline. For example, I highlight my LinkedIn Training, Career Coaching, and Blogging expertise for each one. Of course I open with two brief paragraphs. In this case the What followed by the How. That’s the wonder of the About section; it’s about you.

The About section is also a platform for being personal by using first-person point of view. It’s vastly different from you resume Summary. I see the resume Summary as stiff and lacking personality, whereas the profile Summary gives you voice.

The low score totally surprised me. I thought About was making a real dash to the finish line as of late. There was a time fairly recently when it was embedded in the Snapshot area as an introduction. It didn’t even have its own name. In the past it was called Summary, then nothing, then Summary again, and now About.

Here’s an article I wrote on creating a Kick-Ass Summary.


It’s about time Experience gets some respect

Many recruiters who took the poll wrote in the comments that the Experience section is the bomb. It’s where they go first. Sure, the Headline matters, but what’s most important is the meat, e.g., accomplishments that show a candidate’s value.

One recruiter writes: “I’ll be honest, as an executive recruiter, I rarely pay much attention to someone’s Headline – I look to the experience section and then to the About section….”

Another writes: “As a hiring manager, I want to see a detailed Experience section. I’ll only read the About section if the experience is interesting.”

Finally: “As a recruiter, I care most about their experience. Everything else is ‘additional reading.’ (Although the About section is important for locale/type of work.)”

I would have chosen Experience over the Headline precisely for the reasons stated above; it’s where you get a sense of what a person has accomplished if written well. Unfortunately many people neglect their Experience sections, thinking that their title tells it all.

This is a huge mistake. Think about how you can wow readers with outstanding accomplishments—what recruiters want to see. You can even write your Experience section in first-person point of view, which makes your profile more of a networking document…a personal resume.

Back to what I said about how the title is weighed heavily in terms of keywords. Simply listing your official title at your company doesn’t do you justice. Take this CEO for a small company who gives his title more description:

Chairman, CEO & President ~ New Business Development | Marketing | Sales | Capital Raises

Here’s a post I wrote on how the Experience sections shouldn’t be ignored.


I wanted to sum up this article by again talking about the strength of the headline but thought someone else could say it better.

Laura Smith-Prolx wrote in the comments: “The Headline sets the tone for nearly everything else in your Profile… helping attract the right audience, convey your brand value, and show the strength of your industry expertise.

“When you intentionally craft your Headline (refusing to use the default value of your current job title), you quickly realize it has the power to turn casual observers into visitors of your LinkedIn page.

“While I also believe the About section is too-often ignored, it has little prominence vs. the Headline, which is always present on every action you take (posting, commenting, showing up in a list of other users, etc.).”

Finally, LinkedIn is rolling out a longer Headline ( approximately 250 characters) and dumping the 120 character two-liner. Now we’re going to have that debate akin to should Twitter increased its 140 character count to 280? I always said that was a mistake. Maybe this new character count will be a mistake as well.

10 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.

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

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.

Hot resume trends for 2020: What the experts say

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.