Making Your Resume Believable and Effective
The resume-based job search tends to fail, for a variety of reasons. By
"fail" I mean it limits you to the less desirable jobs and it even hobbles your
ability to get one of those. To compensate for these weaknesses, resume-based
job searchers usually resort to embellishing their resumes. Don't do that.
Let your resume help you find a job. Don't use it as the basis for looking.
And don't focus on the resume. Use it as part of your job search
effort, not as the core.
To find good job leads:
Network within your professional associations. That means
volunteering to be on a committee or help in some way, not showing up and
handing out business cards.
Pick three companies in your industry. Research each one to
see if it's a place you'd like to work and to find out more about the
company and the markets it serves. Find ways to contact hiring managers at
that company (for example, attend trade shows where that company will be
hosting an exhibit).
Pick three recruiters in your industry. Have a frank
conversation with each one about what you're looking for and what you offer.
Make it clear that you are NOT blanketing a list of recruiters with a
generic resume, but are instead working with three. If they ask who the
other two are, it's OK to tell them.
Go to trade shows. If you're out of work, this option may be too
expensive. But if you have money coming in, go to industry events. If you go on
your employer's dollar, all the better. Don't go there with resume in hand,
sneaking around trying to get an interview. Instead, visit booths of companies
you're interested in and strike up a conversation. Don't talk about finding work
at that company, talk about the industry. Keep things positive, and show you are
a player by listening to the other person and making informed, intelligent
responses. If possible go to lunch with a group. The point is to make contacts
and get your name known. Talk about maybe collaborating on a technical paper,
trade publication article, or presentation at another conference.
Present yourself. Talk with your boss about presenting at a
couple of the trade shows in your industry. This helps your company, of course,
which is why many companies encourage employees to do this. It also helps you by
establishing you as an expert and getting your name out there. Wonderful stuff,
when you're looking for a job. Don't bomb your chances out by inflicting Death
by Powerpoint, though.
Learn how to
give an effective presentation.
OK, so you probably will need to give a resume to somebody at some point. In
my own case, I avoided doing this and instead just made industry contacts. I got
many job offers this way, often starting the new job without ever having
provided a resume. Let me ask you this. If a friend said he could get Jimmy Page
to play the guitar at your birthday party, would you ask to see his resume? Make
yourself a star in your industry, and such commoditization can usually be set
aside. Usually, but not always. In that vein, I present....
Some resume tips
Ideally, you will not send a resume before discussing the
intended employer's needs and how you can meet them. A resume sent before
this point generally makes you a commodity. Sometimes, that's OK. But you need
to aim higher.
Use your network to identify job leads; a resume does not
open doors and generate job offers, because employers are buried in resumes.
They aren't going to read your resume, experience near rapture, and phone
you up demanding an interview as soon as possible. Life just does not work
More is not always better. Focus on what matters to the
position you are seeking and the company you are providing it for. A general
resume is not effective, so don't bother writing one or sending it out.
If you have identified six or fewer recruiters to work with,
send a resume specific to the field in which you wish to work and then
follow up with the recruiter about tailoring to a specific job order.
Don't bother with the keyword resume. The purpose of it is
to put you into a database with 10,000 other resumes of people whose general
background is similar to yours. Write compelling text for the human reader.
Try to monetize the accomplishments you list. If you
can't monetize it, why are you listing it? Why should this person hire you,
if you work on things that aren't worth much and those are your star
Don't say you "spearheaded" this and gobbledegooked that. It
makes you sound desperate to say you accomplished something you didn't do.
Emphasize your team role, not your individual role. "Part of team
that..." If it's not obvious from your qualifications that you led the team,
you can bring this out during conversation about the job. This approach also
makes you look humble and honest, as opposed to the typical job seeker whose
hyped up resume instills distrust. Stand out by not trying so hard to stand
When writing your resume, ignore all the "expert" advice that
tells you which magic words to use. Following that advice makes you sound like
everyone else; the other 750 applicants who have read the same books. You want
it to sound original and honest, of course making sure that "your voice" is
grammatically correct, logically correct, and factually accurate.
Write your resume with the reader in mind. What will help "sell"
you to the hiring manager? You don't want to rely on the resume as your sales
pitch, but you also don't want it to document that you are dishonest, desperate,
and devoid of accomplishment. Let it speak honestly of your education and
relevant experience, making sure it focuses on the value of your