Include Me – Please!
Eagle Scout – 1973
Science Club President – Smithville High School
Elder – Christ Episcopal Church
What do all these items have in common? They are all irrelevant to the ability of the job seeker to do the job. What else do they have in common? They are all items that might result in the exclusion of the candidate from consideration for an interview! Time and again, I see these type facts included on executive resumes and I always have a “DOH!” moment.
Job seekers writing their own resumes routinely include information in their resumes that has no bearing on their ability to do the job and could actually result in their being excluded from consideration. The gatekeeper in a hiring situation is facing a “stack” (albeit electronically) of resumes often topping 600 for a single online job posting. The first task at hand is to eliminate as many as possible. Most job seekers write their resumes with an eye toward inclusion when that is actually not the gatekeepers primary task.
You might say, “Well, Eagle Scout is a big accomplishment!” Yes it is – for a seventeen year old but it has no bearing on how a 40+ executive will perform as CEO. “But being a Mensa member is pretty exclusive!” you say? Also true, but Mensa has a popular reputation as being a group of individualists rather than team players (I’m not saying that reputation is accurate). “Science Club President shows ability to lead!” Really? Or was it a high school popularity contest? “Marathon runner shows you are in good health!” It also shows you will not be available a good many weekends of the year if travel or overtime is needed. “Elder shows gravitas and high ethics.” Goodness, how I wish that was still true in our society but sometimes elders of churches have proven to be the most twisted and criminal individuals in our midst; elder does not hold that pedestal place any longer.
Do you see where I am going with this? Job seekers use all sorts of arguments to justify the information they include on the resume but often the information included will just result in the EXCLUSION of the resume from consideration! We always try to look at information from the readers’ points of view and eliminate any exclusionary or “red flag” information from the resume. Sometimes that means we have to do some education of our clients about what is important and what is not. Clients sometimes have a hard time letting go of things because they are so emotionally attached.
You stay seated firmly in your job seeker’s chair and let us sit in the chair of the reader or hiring manager. We know what is important, what needs to be brought forth, and what needs to be left out to make sure you are NOT excluded from consideration from the very beginning!
If you’ve read through our articles are previous blog entries, or have even had your resume critiqued by a member of our crack team of Resume Analysts, you have probably heard us refer to The Reader as our primary audience. While we work for our clients’ benefits and we strive to produce documents that will win interviews for our clients, our clients are not the audience for whom we write. We write for The Reader.
Who is The Reader? The Reader is the person who will be making one of several different decisions. The Reader will either be the person who conducts the “weeding out process”. Remember, resumes are not INCLUDED but rather EXCLUDED based on the content as judged by The Reader. The Reader may be the hiring manager, a recruiter, or even an admin assistant at the exclusionary stage of the game (the first hurdle).
The Reader may also be the interviewer(s) who structure the interview questions based on what they see on the resume. While most candidates are asked basically the same questions, the interviewers base specific questions upon the resume and use that to expand the interview session. For example, the interviewer might say “I see here on your resume that you have had experience working with Microsoft. What do you think you learned there that you can add to our company as a benefit?”
The Reader may also be a network contact who would be passing your resume on to a contact within the company. If The Reader in this situation sees a bad resume, he or she won’t endanger his/her reputation by making a recommendation for you. You might be told by the network contact that your resume was passed on when in reality it was round-filed. (It’s easier to fib and pass the buck than to tell a friend or colleague that his/her resume stinks.)
Ultimately, The Reader is the person making the hiring decision. Not only does the resume have to pass the earlier crowds of Readers but must support the hiring decision for the most important Reader – the one who makes the decision to hire or not.
It is for The Reader, or the crowd of Readers, for whom we write. Sometimes, clients don’t understand this and question the strategy we’ve used to include or exclude certain information. We realize the client has no objectivity and no concept of what The Reader wants or needs to see on a resume. We know what the Reader is seeking, though. It’s our job to know what The Reader wants to see and what will sink the client with the Reader if it’s included on the resume. While that Eagle Scout honor is huge in the mind of the client, more than likely The Reader could care less about it. We know that so sometimes we have to remind clients that we don’t write for them. We write for The Reader.