Tag Archives: prioritize statements

10 reasons why your résumé may be a zombie

zombie boyLast Halloween my son (at right) was talking about being a soccer-player zombie at least two months prior to this much-anticipated night. He explained he would paint his face white; outline his eyes with black; and, most importantly; apply fake blood to the sides of his mouth. The way he described it got me stoked for Halloween.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when his friend from up the street showed up as a zombie. Nor should I have been surprised when our adult neighbor walked over dressed as, you guessed it, a zombie. She was pregnant and had doll baby legs extruding from her large belly. I asked her what her husband was going to dress as, and she told me…a farmer zombie. Further, they dressed their one-year-old son as a zombie.

At least five zombie kids came to my door, and we were only one hour into a night of candy-crazed kids roaming the streets. I felt like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead.

What does last year’s Halloween have to do with the job search? It brings to mind how employers feel about the slew of résumés they receive that lack originality. Like nearly every kid (and adult) I saw dressed as zombies, employers are getting résumés that don’t speak to their needs; they are zombie résumés. Your résumé is a zombie if it has the following characteristics:

  1. A cookie cutter résumé. Written and done, is how some feel about their résumé. No thought about what employers need, therefore no mention of the skills and experience highlighting those needs. Like the zombies that arrived at my door, this résumé doesn’t make an impact.
  2. Failure to capitalize on your accomplishments. Quantified accomplishments are what immediately grab employers’ attention at first glance. Duty-based résumés don’t separate you from many other candidates.
  3. Contact information that lacks your LinkedIn URL. David Perry and Kevin Donlin, Co-Creators of The Guerrilla Job Search System, write, “If you’re not on LinkedIn and looking good, you don’t exist to most employers.” You have a zombie résumé if you’re not on LinkedIn and don’t proudly display it in your contact information.
  4. No branding headline. The best way to say who you are and what your areas of strength are is by having a headline that sets you apart from the other applicants. It’s where you first state keywords and phrases. Zombie résumés fail to make use of this valuable real estate.
  5. A say-nothing Performance Profile.  Zombie résumés start with statements like, Result-driven Project Manager with 20 years of experience in Manufacturing. Instead,  Project Manager who leads teams producing software that generate sales exceeding $3M in competitive manufacturing markets, would be more enticing to the employer.
  6. Your résumé isn’t prioritized. A zombie résumé fails to demonstrate your knowledge of what’s important to the employer, based on the job description. Your Profile should state your qualifications in order of the employer’s requirements, thus making her job of finding them very easy. Prioritize your statements.
  7. No core competency section. A résumé is not complete unless it has a Core Competency section that lists the skills required for a position, plus additional ones that can add to a person’s candidacy.
  8. The Work History lacks relevant accomplishments. Perhaps the most important aspect of a résumé is the Work History, but what makes it escape Zombie status is powerful accomplishment statements. Accomplishments that describe how you have contributed to the growth of an organization/company. Increased revenue, improved production, reduced costs, saved time are but a few accomplishments you should highlight.
  9. There’s no Training Section. If you were fortunate enough to receive training or took advantage of professional development, you should have a section for training. A zombie résumé contains no Training section and screams to employers that, “I have not taken advantage of bettering myself and keeping up with technologies.”
  10. The Education Section is incomplete and includes dates. All to often I have seen résumés that skimp on the Education section. Whether you earned a degree 5 years ago or 20, this section informs the employer that you started and completed something. Don’t be shy about writing that you made the Dean’s list four years running, something you accomplished through dedication and hard work.

Zombies roamed my neighborhood on Halloween walking lethargically, extending their hands for candy, just as many résumés lack the imagination and authenticity required to earn a place at an interview. Don’t submit a zombie résumé. Rather think about the ten important components of your résumé and how to make them strong. Who knows what next year’s Halloween will bring?

Your résumé should make the employers choice to interview you easy

easySome jobseekers have a misconception that, like a buffet dinner, more is always better on their résumé. What results from this misguided belief is a ton of unfocused and untargeted information that usually leads to information overload for the recruiter, human resources manager, or hiring manager.

These jobseekers feel that the more duties they list on their résumé increases their chance of getting an interview. (The person with the most toys wins.) What they fail to realize is a very logical point Colleen Roller raises in her article, “Abundance of Choice and Its Effect on Decision Making.” It’s this: if we give the reviewer too many choices, she gets bombarded by information and is likely to lose focus on the message the jobseeker is trying to convey.

I often take time to look at my Résumé Writing workshop attendees’ résumés; and at first glance I get the sense that a reviewer might see reading their résumés as a chore. This is not the case with all my attendees, but some of the résumés read like a novel…not good. Can you imagine how a reviewer must feel if she has to select 10 candidates from among 100 résumés, most of which are full of unnecessary text?

Ms. Roller is a usability/decision architect and her eloquent article is about how we take in and remember information, which is essential in creating an effective website. She tells us that when given a choice of chocolate, for example, on the surface we’d prefer 30 different varieties. (I bet you chocolate lovers can think of at least 15.) However, when presented with so many varieties of chocolate, we become overwhelmed. Instead, a choice of six chocolates is what we’re capable of handling.

So how different is selecting from among 30 kinds of chocolate than deciphering a résumé that is nothing more than a list of duties? Not much different.

Ms. Roller says, “As the number of options increases, the evaluation process can become overwhelming and intimidating, especially when it feels like making a choice requires expert information or skill.”

Take advice from résumé reviewers who have been clamoring for résumés that are rich with quantified accomplishments and fewer duties, than ones that only list duties and look more like a grocery list. The overwhelming consensus is that they want résumés that provide the information they need upfront—I refer to it as prioritizing one’s statements as they relate to the job requirements. When jobseekers list only what’s important, the reviewer is quickly able to see the value in jobseekers.

So the question is, “How do jobseekers know which skills and experience to list on their résumé?” The answer lies in a complete understanding of the positions they seek. They must examine and dissect the job ad, and focus on all of the competencies required by the employer. By doing this jobseekers will not overload the reviewer with 30 varieties of chocolate; they will make the choice an easier one to make.