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Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Skinny Resumes
Is your resume on a diet? It probably is. Most resumes I see that are submitted for review are either on a diet or should be on a diet. When I say “on a diet” I mean that the resume is thin – thin in information that is useful to the reader. Most job seekers believe if they just put down the basics on the resume, that is all that is needed. Unfortunately, the basics won’t sell well against other well-qualified candidates that do a much better job communicating their value.

When constructing a resume, it is important to do several things all at once. You must engage the reader so he/she will become interested in finding out more about your qualifications. You must describe your background, level of responsibility, and scope of work vividly without being verbose or over-dramatic. You must show the reader how you have made a difference for the good for each of your employers. You must show the reader the level of performance you have demonstrated. And finally, you must do all this better than the other candidates against whom you are competing and whom are just as qualified (perhaps even more so) as you. That’s a tall order.

Most people don’t think about this when constructing their own resumes. They struggle simply to get down the what, when, and where of their careers. Never mind the how and the why. As a result of this struggle and inattention to content strategy, most resumes are skinny and thin. They don’t offer much meat to the reader and don’t generate any excitement or interest.

On the flip side is the resume that needs to be on a diet. Such a resume is usually constructed by someone who knows there should be some strategy in what is included, what is excluded, and how to put it all together but hasn’t the foggiest idea where to begin. The job seeker who experiences this struggle often wrestles with the resume for hours and hours only to give up in the end and just put everything in the resume. The job seeker hopes he/she covers everything and hasn’t left out one minor detail that might make the difference in winning the interview. The result is a resume that is fat, overloaded with unnecessary information, and drones on and on, relentlessly describing minute details that have no relevance to the job seeker’s goal.

Strategy is key to constructing a powerful, effective resume. Choosing what content to include and how to write it is very important. Usually, the simpler the language used in the resume, the better. You don’t want complex sentences with high readability levels because it makes it hard to read quickly. An employer may have several minutes to read a report but he/she will only have a few seconds to glance at a resume. Don’t bog him down with $3 words when simpler words would work much better.

A resume needs to be a lean, mean sales machine. Every word should have a direct contribution toward winning the interview. The organization and order of the content should have strategy behind it. All the mechanical issues such as spelling, punctuation and capitalization should be correct and top-quality. Remember, the resume isn’t a biography – it’s a sales brochure for your career.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 /


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