Tag Archives: resume writing

Do spelling errors and typos matter? According to more than 7,050 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.”

6 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 six obvious 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 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 (adaptive) skills should be implemented in the paragraphs within the Experience section, NOT the Summary.


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.

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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.

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

And comments from résumé authorities at the end of this article.

Recently one of my clients presented to me a seven-page résumé to critique. My first reaction was to see if there were duplicate documents. Nope, it was one résumé. Before I had a chance to speak, he said, “I know, it’s too long.” Too long was an understatement.

Reading a Resume

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. There was what I refer to a lot of clutter on this résumé. To begin with, I noticed multiple duplicate duty statements; some of them were repeated verbatim. This résumé needed to be de-cluttered.

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.

1. Home address

There are two reasons why you shouldn’t include your home address on your résumé. The first is pretty obvious. We no longer communicate via snail mail. Hiring authorities will contact you with email, LinkedIn messaging, and even text.

The second reason is that you can exclude yourself from consideration if you live beyond what hiring authorities consider commuting distance. Years ago a recruiter was kind enough to review my client’s résumé for an opening. He looked at it for two seconds and said, “No good. She lives 50 miles from our company.” Case in point.

2. Fluff

My gag reflex kicks into gear when I read a Summary that begins with: “Dedicated, results-oriented, Sales Professional who works well as part of a team and independently….” There are so many violations with an opening like this.

The solution is obvious; stay clear of meaningless adjectives. The golden rule is show rather than tell. Try: Sales Manager who consistently outperforms projected sales growth by double figures. Collaborate with departments company-wide, ensuring customer satisfaction is achieved.

3. Graphics*

Graphics are cool. They add panache to your résumé, are visually appealing, and say a thousand words. However, the applicant tracking system (ATS) doesn’t digest them well*. For example, one of my clients used a graphic for his name. Stunning. But when we tried to look him up with Bullhorn, he didn’t appear in the database.

Graphic artists, web designers, photographers, and other artistic types rely on graphics to demonstrate their work. Business developers, marketers, salespersons, etc. feel numeric graphs make a strong point when expressing their accomplishments. The ATS will kick these out.

If you feel your résumé could benefit from graphics, the solution is to get your résumé in the hands of the hiring manager, which is a good policy anyway. Or if your résumé will be opened as an attachment, format your résumé to your heart’s content.

4. Objective statement

These words should be erased from your vocabulary. There is nothing redeeming about an Objective Statement. Most of them read: “Seeking an opportunity which provides growth, stability, and a rewarding opportunity.” Where in this Objective Statement is there mention of what the client brings to the employer?

Nowhere. That’s where. A Summary, on the other hand, does a better job of showing what value you’ll bring to the table. That’s, of course, when fluff is excluded from it and an accomplishment or two are included. If you’re wondering how your résumé tells the employer the job you’re seeking, simply write it above the Summary.

5. Duties

Everyone performs duties, but who does them better; that’s what employers are trying to determine. Take the following duties my aforementioned client showed me followed by my reactions in parentheses. Then read my suggested revisions below them.

Client’s duties

  • Responsible for terminating 40% of employees. (That’s unfortunate, but so what.)
  • Led meetings every week. (This is a given.)
  • Spearheaded the company’s first pay-for-service program. (Ditto.)
  • Developed a training program that proved to be successful. (How?)

Accomplishments

  • Surpassed productivity expectations 25% while reducing sales force by 40% due to budget restraints.
  • Increased sales 30% in Q4 2018 by spearheading the company’s first pay-for-service program. This garnered the Sales Department Award of Excellence.
  • Developed the company’s first training program which was adopted by other locations nationwide.

Notice how one of the duties of this sample were excluded from his résumé. It was irrelevant. He was reluctant to let go of other duties, but I told him fewer duties and more accomplishments are the way to go.

6. Death by bullets

Have you been told by recruiters that they want your résumé to consist of only bulleted statements? And have you read a two-page job ad that consists of only bullets? Do you get my point? Reading a résumé like this is mind-numbing. It is hard to differentiate the duties from the accomplishments.

A well-formatted résumé will have a three-to-four line Summary in paragraph format which shows value and promise of what you will deliver to the employer. Each position you’ve performed should have a Job Summary which is exactly that; it summarizes your overall responsibility for that job.

7. Killer paragraphs

The opposite of death by bullets is death by paragraphs. Some job seekers don’t understand that paragraphs—especially ones 10-lines long—are excruciating to read. So excruciating that hiring authorities will take one look at a paragraph laden résumé and file it in the circular filing cabinet.

My general rule is that a Summary in paragraph format should not exceed three-four lines. Similarly, a Job Scope or summary of a position should be brief. (If you’ve noticed, this article’s paragraphs don’t exceed four lines.)

8. Any positions beyond 15 years

Experts will agree that listing history beyond 10-15 years is a deal-breaker. There are two primary reasons for this. First, what you did before 15 years is probably irrelevant to what employers are looking for today. Software, hardware, procedures, licenses probably are considered ancient. Think DOS.

Another reason is ageism. Unfortunately there are stupid companies that discriminate against age. Hiring authorities can roughly estimate your age based on the years you have been in the workforce. Why rule yourself out of consideration immediately. Once you get to an interview, you can sell yourself based on the value older workers bring to employers.

9. Years you attended university

This is another way to date yourself and face possible discrimination. Hiring authorities don’t expect to see it on your résumé. The only exception would be if you graduated from university within the past four years.

10. References

I’ve seen a handful of résumés that included references. The reason why job seekers list their references is to include them in one document. By listing your references on your résumé, you 1) give employers authority to call them before an interview even begins, which might hurt you if your references say something negative; and 2) it lengthens your résumé.

In addition, References Available Upon Request is unnecessary.


By the end of our one-hour session, I was able to point out various items my client could remove from his résumé. I was also able to point out where he could write his duties as accomplishments, with quantified results.


Jessica Hernandez, owner of Great Resumes Fast, feels strongly about avoiding fluff and objective statements:

Fluff and objective statements are by far my two biggest résumé pet peeves. People just love to stack adjectives together when writing their summary, and objectives are focused on the job seeker and not the employer.

My advice is to scale back the adjective use and replace an objective statement or a generic career summary with a position title and snapshot that uses keywords, metrics, and hard skills. Don’t wait to sell them on what you’ve accomplished. Start mentioning it from the get-go.

Here’s what Rich Marsh, author and professional editor, has this to say about objective statements:

I often have to teach people that unless you’re straight from school with no work experience, you do not want an Objective Statement. The problem is that most folks I help haven’t looked for work in 15 years, and they used to use it back then.

I’ve had recruiters tell me that “An Objective Statement is the kiss of death.” That and putting “Cell:” or “c:” next to a phone number in your contact info. Both are signs that the candidate is “old.”

My valued LinkedIn connection, Candace Barr, Certified Résumé Writer, writes this about graphics:

While I do often add some small visual elements where/when appropriate, content is still king.  I see some beautiful, highly designed résumés that look amazing, but fail to tell a powerful story or quantify achievements.  It’s a fine balance to find – and another reason why working with an expert provides so much value. We do so much more than write documents. There is strategy and positioning behind each element of the résumé.

*My colleague and owner of Write Step Resumes, Ashley Watkins, says this about graphics:

As far as graphics, they’re actually fine for the ATS. The system will simply delete it. As long as the information you include on the graphic is listed elsewhere in the document, you should be okay.

Kate E. Williamson, Executive Resume Writer, warns against listing information in your Word header:

I see a lot of resumes that use headers and footers, specifically including name and contact info in the header. While this approach may seem like a great way to organize information, many ATS used by HR departments cannot extract info from headers and footers, which, in turn, causes issues in filing your resume into an HR database.

Photo: Flickr, Helen Greene

Impressive Executive Resumes Lead With Results

This guest article is from Adrienne Tom, a valued connection and colleague. 

In order to captivate a reader, executive resumes require more than just strong, tailored content. They also need proof.  Proof of the communications expertise and business leadership one claims to covet.  Saying you are good at something and providing clear evidence of it are two different things.

Business people

In an executive resume one must prove their claims.

Supporting evidence lies within measurable impacts, specific quantities, and strong metrics generated during a career.  For greater impact: load your executive resume with relevant results.  Even better, lead with them.

Take this example:  a friend is telling you about their recent fishing expedition, laying out all the things they did and the actions they took before sublimely mentioning ‘we caught a lot of fish’.  Would you be impressed?  Perhaps.  Yet exact measurements are missing and you may have tuned out long before the results were mentioned.

Now, let’s say this same person started the story with ‘12 fish were caught in the first hour of our fishing weekend!’.  Would that get your attention faster?  Likely.  That’s because the results are clear and presented early.

When I work with executives to position their value ‘on paper’ the primary goal is to ensure content speaks to the reader, fast.  Leading with results and front-loading points throughout the file generates a strong impression, builds excitement, and connects the dots.

To ensure the inclusion of measurable and scaled details in your resume, strive to answer: how many? how much? and how often?

If you’ve directed teams, list the size:  Teams of 450.

If you’ve managed budgets, quantify the largest amount:  Budgets of $45M

If you’ve driven revenue growth, show the value over time:   $40M revenue expansion in 2 Years  

Now store these results away for high-impact positioning in your resume.

Leading with results spoon feeds the reader what they want, first.  You answer questions before they can be asked and you align proof points with position requirements.  Results also drive energy and action into the file!

Leaders appreciate the value of numbers and measurable business impacts, so don’t make them hunt for them in a resume. Commence the file with a strong header and supporting value statement, not a generic list of keywords or blanket phrases.

For example, a general opening might say:

Executive Leader:  Revenue Generator | Team Builder | New Business Developer

Yet there is no scale and no measurements in the above statement to hook and engage. An improved resume header would include size, scale, and metrics. Something more like:

President and CEO:  Global $45M Facilities Management | Teams to 450 | 300% Revenue Growth in 4 Years.

The key is to keep this same approach up throughout the resume, with all statements, including bullet points.  Front-load points to powerfully position strengths and build the readers’ appreciation of capabilities.

Standard bullet statements may include impressive figures and important metrics but if key details appear near the end of content the impact becomes less wow and more oh-by-the-way.

End-loaded statements:

  • Developed differentiated product line which decreased service time for end users and added $36M in new profit over 3 years.
  • Shifted vendor relationship management to internal support group, producing $10M in annual cost-savings.
  • Employed longer sales cycles to close accounts in historically challenging European territory to grow new business revenue 156% over 2 years.

Front-loaded statements:

  • Added $36M in new profit over 3 years by developing differentiated product line which decreased service time for end users.
  • Produced $10M in annual cost-savings by shifting vendor relationship management to internal support group.
  • Grew new business revenue 156% over 2 years in European market, employing longer sales cycles to close accounts in historically challenging territory.

The difference is discernible. There is no hunting for impacts in front-load statements and key points don’t run the risk of getting buried or overlooked.  What matters most appears first.

As an executive, you want the reader to get invested in you and your abilities.  To hook and engage, lay out content in a clear path, baiting with impacts that are hard to overlook or pass by.  Lead with results.

Read the original article here.


Take your resume strategy one step further and really impress by Pairing Effective Content with Innovative Design!  You are unique, therefore your resume should be too.

Adrienne Tom is a multi-award-winning executive resume writer with Career Impressions.  She packages and positions executives and top professionals, helping them level-up, land faster, and increase their earning power!  Visit her website to learn more.

Photo: Flickr, zigzagpress

Is the résumé Summary statement dead? What experts say

Once a staple of the job search, the résumé Summary statement may be on its way out — or perhaps it’s already dead. There are two camps; one that believes the Summary is alive and kicking, another that feels it’s run its course.

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I’ve read many résumés that contain a Summarys that is full of fluff and, in effect, says nothing at all. I’ve spoken to many recruiters and hiring managers who have told me they don’t even read Summaries when they come across them.

Recently, I posed a question about résumé Summaries to my LinkedIn followers—and I received a lot of responses.

Executive resume writer Adrienne Tom is one of the respondents—the others are listed below. Adrienne said she often considers leaving the Summaries off the résumés she writes.

“I think a lot of professionals feel compelled to share a Summary which then comes out forced, with generic word choices,” Tom wrote. “Instead, a better strategy is to focus on value points. Share with the reader the ‘hows and whys’ (provide the proof), and word selection won’t matter as much.”

So, is the Summary just wasted real estate now? Once a vital résumé component, I fear is gradually losing the foothold it once held. It may soon be excluded from résumés altogether, simply because the people who read résumés don’t have the time for Summaries.

I hope I’m wrong, because I do think Summaries can be quite powerful. Consider this summary statement:

Information Systems Department Director specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives. Budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources. Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.

Does this Summary say enough? It illustrates the candidate’s value with quantified results and should generate interest in the reader. It’s brief, and there’s no fluff.

But not all of my esteemed colleagues agree that Summaries add value. As mentioned above, I recently asked professional résumé writers and recruiters whether they thought the Summary is dead. Here’s what a few of them wrote:

“I have my candidates compose what I like to call a ‘career highlights’ section: just a bullet-pointed section of some actual career accomplishments. It catches the potential employer’s attention immediately. I feel objectives/summaries are just antiquated in a job market that is currently flooded with candidates.” — Adrienne Roberts, Branch Manager, Robert Half

“Are they on their way out? No — they have already left. Most hiring professionals will tell you that the summary, at least in the US, is an ignored piece of fluff, better left off to make room for the information they need/want to know.” — Sarah Douglas, G.C.D.F

“I feel that summary statements are still an essential component of a résumé. However, I am looking for qualifications and hard data, not fluff about perceived skills. If you can quickly read about relevant experience, results achieved, number of direct reports, and so on, then the soft skills can be explored further in the interview.” — Judy Hojel, CEO, People and Performance Training Pty, LTD.

“No, a well-written summary statement is a must on any resume. It brings together the many details of your achievements and education to focus the employer on exactly how you fit the job position. It gives one a big-picture view, with the detail to follow [in the rest of the resume].” —  Jay Barrett, Human Resources Executive

“A poorly written, anemic summary section (especially one that is basically just a string of keywords) does nothing to differentiate the job seeker. Such prime real estate gives a candidate the opportunity to concisely lay out their good-fit qualities, qualifications, and ability to meet specific needs of that specific employer. A well-written, targeted summary will stand on its own on the résumé. As well, it piques interest, and compels the reader to continue reading down the page.” — Meg Guiseppi, Executive Resume Master

As you can see, opinions vary on whether the summary statement is on its way out. I, for one, hope it remains a vital resume component — but I also agree with Adrienne Tom. The summary must provide proof of one’s greatness. Otherwise, there’s no use in having one.

What do you think? I’d love to read your comments.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, aninwardspiral

9 outdated résumé rules you can break

The way résumés are written today is different than it was 10 years ago. Résumé writers and job seekers are breaking some résumé rules, and…that’s okay. Because what it comes down to is not how a résumé looks; it’s the value it conveys. Let’s look at some outdated résumé rules.

Broken Rules

1. Sending the same résumé is fine

Some people believe that sending the same, tired résumé for all positions will suffice. It won’t. There are two distinct reasons why a generic résumé won’t cut it. First, it doesn’t address the requirements of all employers. Remember, every employer—even if they’re trying to fill a similar position—has specific needs. You need to address them on your résumé.

Second, the applicant tracking system, which effectively eliminates approximately 75% of résumés that are sent in for one position, will reject your résumé because of lack of keywords. Great for HR and recruiters, but a detriment to job seekers. Make sure you identify the required skills, experience, and education requirements listed in a job posting.

2. Don’t brag on your résumé

If you want to call it that. There was a time, not too long ago, when touting your success was considered bragging. Now you need to separate yourself from other job candidates. It’s simply not okay to present a grocery list of duties; you need to show how well you performed those duties.

So, if you trained 12 employers on CRM software over the course of 9 months, precluding the need to hire a consultant. And if this saved the company $200,000, shout it out. It’s not wrong to tout your successes.

3. Use font that’s easy to read on paper

Résumés used to be written in serif font, such as Times New Roman, but the trend now is sans serif, such as Arial and Calibri. Although it was believed that reading text on paper is easier if the content is written in Times New Roman, this belief has been thrown out the window.

4. Only bold titles and/or companies

How do you get words to standout, jump off the page, make an impact? You bold the text. Don’t bold all the text on you résumé, only a few words and phrases. I know it looks a little weird, but help the person reviewing your résumé to see what’s important. You get the idea.

5. Include your home address in your contact info

Sorry, I’m not home. Résumé writers are suggesting to their clients that they preclude their home address. I am, too. The reason I advise my clients to leave their home address off their résumé is because 1) it’s not necessary 2) hiring authorities might rule you out of consideration because of location, and 3) it takes up space.

To the second point: I recall asking a recruiter friend of mine to take a quick glance at one of my client’s résumé. That’s exactly what he did; after looking at it for 2 seconds he told me the résumé was no good. Why? My client lived 50 miles from the company.

6. What? A headline?

Go ahead and let loose; write a headline, like that on your LinkedIn profile, that briefly describes what you do and some of your areas of expertise. If you’re worried about space, it should only take two lines. I like to call this a Branding Headline in my Résumé Advanced and LinkedIn Profile workshops. Here’s one from one of my clients:

Director New Business Development
Account Management | Marketing | Sales Growth | Client Relations

The Headline is a fairly new idea, but the most professional résumés have them under their contact information.

7. Don’t use first point of view

Some people recoil when they see a résumé that is written in first person point of view. I’m guessing that 20 years ago we were told no personal pronouns like I, me, we , they, etc. on your résumé. Why? Just because. A better answer to this is that your name is written at the top. It’s assumed that you’re writing about yourself; therefore, no need for writing, “I.”

I’m of a different opinion on this matter. I think it’s fine if you want to use personal pronouns in your Performance Profile or Value Proposition. But to use them throughout, that goes a little too far. Thank goodness for the LinkedIn profile, which encourages personal pronouns.

Please read: 4 reasons why personal pronouns are acceptable on your résumé

8. Keep your résumé to one or two pages

Your résumé should be one-page long, no exceptions. Bunk. Two pages are fine. Even three pages depending on your level and/or the accomplishments you must tout (within your 10-15-year work history).

The problem with limiting your page number is 1) you can’t describe your greatness, unless you only have five-years of experience, and 2) you limit the keyword density required to pass the applicant tracking systems (ATS).  One-page résumés are old school.

9. Your résumés can include clichés

It pains me to say this, but if you want your résumé to pass the ATS scan, you may have to include some words résumé writers consider to be taboo. My clients will tell you that clichés, or fluff, is one of my pet peeves; however, it all begins with the employers. They are the ones that write horrid job posts loaded with fluff.


These are 9 outdated résumé rules you can break. Actually I forgot to mention one I just broke in the previous sentence. Forget the rule that says you have to spell every number less than 10. No one said the résumé has to be grammatically correct—after all, we don’t begin each sentence with a subject. Do we?

Photo: Flickr, Jordi Calaveras

The 5 steps recruiters use to select the best résumés

This year my son wanted a Christmas tree, despite the fact he’s allergic to them. I was game. Besides, we know this great tree farm that isn’t well known by other Christmas tree buyers.

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(You may skip this story and go right to the 5 steps recruiters use to select the best resume to present to hiring managers, if you’d like.)

My family and I arrived at the tree farm and weren’t surprised by the sparse group of people eager to find their Christmas tree.

Looking up the hill I saw nothing but rows and rows of Christmas trees and a few people, some with dogs, walking through rows of those trees. No one was in a hurry. Why should they be in a hurry?

You might think I was excited to see such an abundance of trees, which at a glance all looked the same. You are correct; I was thrilled to find the perfect tree to take home to our living room.

However, as I got closer to the trees up on the hill, I noticed that they weren’t all perfect. In fact, some of them were pretty bleak with their pine needles turning brown, and their branches missing here and there. In other words, this was going to take work.

What I began to think about was how this mass selection of Christmas trees resembled the mass selection of résumés recruiters get for one job. How they have to sift through all those résumés in order to select the ones to submit to hiring managers (HM). Here are the five steps they must take.

First, reduce the number of résumés to be read

By now you’ve heard about the applicant tracking system (ATS) and understand its purpose, to eliminate as many résumés to read as possible. Simply stated, it screens résumés for keywords and phrases. Those without the proper keywords don’t make the cut.

To give you an idea of the sheer number of applicant for each job: according to Jobvite.com, nearly 100 résumés are submitted for professional positions and 150 for other entry level.

The ATS effectively eliminates 75% of résumés submitted for a position, but even reading 25 résumés can be a burden. (Read 10 reasons recruiters and hiring managers dread reading résumés.)

Second, read the 25 out of 100 résumés chosen by the ATS

Even after the résumés have made it through the ATS, recruiters will take approximately six to ten seconds to read each one to determine if it’s worth a second view.

Recruiters’ job is to look for résumés to disqualify from consideration, rather than qualify them for consideration. It’s a process of elimination. Résumés that make the cut are placed in the “must read” pile.

Third, read the résumés in the “must read” pile

A closer look tells recruiters if the résumés have what it takes based on:

  • Readability: the résumés contain short paragraphs, with no more than three or four lines. Important points are bulleted. Important text is highlighted in bold to stand out from the rest of the text.
  • Accomplishments stand out: they are measurable with numbers, dollars, and percentages. Executive résumés, according to Laura Smith-Proulx are quantified.
  • Shorter is better—two pages—but I’ve spoken with recruiters who will read three- even four-page résumés. The more pages, the easier the ATS to see you, my dear.
  • Demographics: Determine if the applicants’ demographics fit the role. Does he live close enough to the company? Does his work history show too much or enough years of experience? What size companies has the applicant worked at?

Fourth, determine which two, three, or four résumés to submit to the hiring manager

The recruiter’s reputation is riding on the best candidates to submit to the HM, so the résumés must impress him. He must be sold on the candidates’ accomplishments, which must be relevant.

For example, although a candidate has outstanding accomplishments as an individual contributor—increased revenue 80% by generating business in uncharted territory—but the job calls for a person with management experience, he probably isn’t a good fit.

Personality fit is also key in the recruiter’s decision. But how does the recruiter see candidates’ personality in a résumé? It’s not an easy task for the job seeker to accomplish, but a résumé that demonstrates a human voice without use of fluff and cliches is preferred.

The use of personal pronouns is typically frowned upon, but when used sparingly can emphasize the job seeker’s skills and accomplishments. By sparingly I mean used only in the Performance Profile section.

Fifth, defend the recruiter’s choice to the hiring manager

A well written résumé should not be difficult to defend. After all, it has passed the ATS, the six-second glance, a more extensive review, has presented relevant accomplishments, and has given the recruiter a sense of the job seeker’s personality…as best it can.

But the résumé is a document that can’t reveal as much as the interviews conducted by the recruiter, HR, and the hiring manager. This is a the first step in the process, albeit a very important step. The recruiter must sound convincing when she presents her decision to the HM, perhaps second guessing the choices she’s made. Let the interviews begin.

Back to the story: The Christmas tree our family chose was one of the best in our family’s history. It was the ideal height and width. It only shed a few pine needles. But my wife wondered aloud if the short needles would be as good as the longer needles.

To me, it was a Christmas tree that we selected together. Was it perfect? No, but what is?

When someone writes your résumé, they need to thoroughly interview you. The experts will tell you

You’d think that writing a résumé that is typically one, two, three, or even four pages long shouldn’t be difficult, yet even the most accomplished professionals find it daunting. Self-analysis is not an easy thing, as it involves some soul searching and brutal honesty.

Although some can easily identify their skills and experience, others need help in the form of a résumé  interview. Professional résumé writers will tell you that the interview is just the beginning of the entire process.

My Résumé  Writing workshop attendees often confess that they dread writing their résumé —these are people who have written white-pages, proposals, product documentation, newsletters, and other business correspondences. To answer them, I’ll say, “You just have to do it. Your livelihood depends on this document.”

The workshop runs two and a half to three hours long, depending on the number of questions I get as well as how talkative I am. The focus of the workshop is to help my customers 1) formulate a strategy, 2) position themselves through a Summary/Personal Profile, and 3) sell themselves to the employer by showing quantified accomplishments. This, however, is all theory. In other words, it tells them how they should go about revising an existing résumé , how to make it stronger.

Where my customers benefit the most is when I meet with them one-on-one. They revise their résumé  after the workshop and then send a copy of it to me. I’ll review and write comments on it, usually pertaining to a lack of accomplishments and/or a Summary statement that fails to illustrate their job-related skills. If their résumé  is outstanding, I’ll say so; but in most cases it needs at least some minor work.

What results from the critique is usually a soul-searching meeting where I’ll interview my customers for half an hour to dig into their background. The interview process is where it comes together for them. It’s the “Oh Yeah” moment where they see better their accomplishments and understand why a Summary statement full of fluff is not impressive.

“You say in your Summary that you trained staff to be more productive,” I’ll begin. First of all, employers have seen this claim many times. How can you elaborate on it? Give me a WOW factor.”

“OK. When I trained other staff on how to use the proprietary office management software, I noticed a rapid improvement in their output, perhaps double what they were doing prior to my training. Do you mean like that?”

“Exactly. Now tell me more about your training style. Why was it effective?”

“Oh, and also I won an award for training my colleagues. I, like, totally forgot about that.”

And so it goes. With fresh new ideas in their heads, my job seekers leave my office armed to revise their résumé  for yet another time, and probably not the last.

Some jobseekers have the resources to hire a professional résumé  writer who will guide them through the entire process, beginning with the interview and culminating with a product that should get them a number of interviews.

I won’t dissuade my customers who ask me if they should hire a writer, especially if they can afford the cost. However, there’s one condition I lay down; if a résumé  writer is going to take their money, the writer must interview them for an appropriate length of time before going to work writing it.

I’ve seen too many job seekers come through our urban career center with a poorly written résumé . In some cases, they spend up to $700 for a résumé  that is worth no more than the paper on which it’s printed. One woman I spoke to said she was interviewed for 10 minutes. What she showed me was no more than a work timeline with a long column of keywords. Oh, but it had a nice border around it. Plainly stated, it wasn’t a résumé .

Writing one’s own résumé  takes self-reflection, so it follows that assisting with or writing another person’s résumé  requires the time to completely understand the client’s relevant experience, scope of their duties, and, most importantly, what accomplishments they’ve achieved that separates them from the rest of the pack.

WHAT THE PROFESSIONALS SAY:

Wendy Enelow, Co-Owner of Career Thought Consortium and author of many résumé  writing books, articulates in one of her blogs the need to capture her clients’ accomplishments: “As professional résumé  writers, we all know that a great deal of a résumé ’s effectiveness is based on accomplishments—what a job seeker has done to improve operations, increase revenues, strengthen bottom-line profits, reduce operating costs, enhance business processes, upgrade technologies, and so much more.” To write about a job seeker’s accomplishment, the résumé  writer must invest time in learning about that person. Wendy puts no limit on the time it takes to interview her clients and write some of the best résumé s out there.

Darrell DiZoglio, Owner of RighteousRésumé s, emphasizes the importance of setting his clients apart from the ordinary. He states, “[Clients] want a serious advantage over their competition in the race to get hired and do not mind paying for it. It is my mission in life to give it to them.” I’ve spoken with Darrell on a few occasions and got the impression that he loves what he does and takes pride in producing the best possible résumé s for his clients. When talking about the time he takes to interview his clients, he says, “I don’t wear a wristwatch.”

“The amount of time I spend interviewing a client before pen is put to paper is no less than 2 hours, but there is no restriction on time. Our process is one of working to accomplish a goal that is not driven by time.” states Marjorie Kavanagh, President of Panoramic Résumé s. She also says the interview process helps people realize accomplishments they may not have considered.

Tracy Parish, CPRW, Executive Résumé  Writer, says that sometimes her clients don’t talk enough. But knowing the importance of getting valuable information from them, she won’t give up until she has that information. She mentions a funny occasion when her fear of a silent client was subsided after she used her charm to warm him up, “I’ve also had the extreme where you couldn’t get them to talk at all. I’m usually great at getting them to open up. One guy had his wife sit in on the call too—she warned me he wouldn’t talk much so I thought having her there for input would be nice. However, he talked so much [his wife] was shocked. She told me she had never seen anyone get him to talk so much!”

Whether my customers attend my workshop and a critique session or pay someone to write their résumé , the interview process is an essential component of the process. I understand the difficulty of interviewing job seekers, as do the professional résumé  writers who I contacted; but when done well, it lays down the foundation of the most important document of their life.