Category Archives: Resumes

Leave your mark to impress your boss. 

I have been around a lot of big bears in Pennsylvania. It is exciting. Still, I have only seen one bear in Pennsylvania. Bears leave behind footprints, scratched trees and scat (the polite way of referring to bear excrement). As a matter of fact, some bears try to impress other bears by showing how high on a tree they can scratch the bark away. They may never see each other, but bears know who is the “big bear”.

Bear, Brown Bear, Mammal, Animal, Nature, Wildlife

In job hunting you need to let people know you are the “big bear”. Don’t tell them everything you did at your last job. Show them signs of your size and impact. In your resume do not give every detail of your jobs. Show the things that prove you are the “big bear” now. 

Are you a Controller or CFO? How much money did you save your company? How much new revenue did you personally drive to the bottom line?

If your title is manager, assume that people know you hire, make budgets, and write reports. Increased revenue, how much money you saved, and faster execution are things that show how high you reached. 

As a programmer you need to have a list of languages you know somewhere on the resume. That’s necessary but it doesn’t make you stand out. The fact that your last five projects came in on time and under budget will show you are a big bear. 

Don’t hide what you accomplished in a forest of petty details. Make the things that prove you are a big bear unmissable. If you have ten bullet points about one job, get rid of half of them. A five line paragraph will hide a lot of accomplishments. Make three short bullets instead or put a couple of keywords in bold font.

Show you are the big bear. Stretch up high and scratch that tree where the other bears can’t miss it.

Something to do today

Hand your resume to some friends. Give them 45 seconds to read it, then ask them what your biggest accomplishments are. 45 seconds is a very thorough read for resumes, most only get 10 seconds. If you can’t get your point across in 45 seconds, getting hired will be pure luck.

How to write a successful resume

The Marines test their men so that under ideal conditions they can strip down their rifles and put them back together extremely fast. They can do it blindfolded.

Since your resume may be first reviewed in 5.7 seconds and thrown away or kept, you have to make sure it can be read blindfolded.

I’m not saying to use Braille. Instead use bullets, placement of keywords, white space, and numbers (which also attract the eye) to make reviewers quickly see you meet the basic requirements.

Test one – the famous test:

Give your resume to a friend. Take it back after 12 seconds. Ask him what your resume says you are qualified to do. If he can’t tell you, it fails.

Test two — plus:

Get some resumes from friends or coworkers. Tell them you need them for this test. Or go to and download the resumes linked there. Put your resume somewhere besides first in the pile. Now, give the job description for the job you are applying for to a friend. Have him read it carefully. Give him the stack of resumes. Tell him he has 10 seconds per resume to decide if it fits the job. As he goes through the stack, time him on each resume. If he goes past 10 seconds, take the resume away and ask if it passes or fails. Does your resume pass or fail?

If your resume passes both tests, you have got a fighting chance. 

Something to do today

Use the methods above to test your resume. Did your resume pass or did it fail? If it fails, make changes to make your resume better and test it again. 

Will your resume last more than 5.7 seconds

I heard the Wall Street Journal did a study and found that the average resume is reviewed in 5.7 seconds. Years ago it was 10 to 12 seconds. People must be reading faster.

The reason for the increase in speed is probably that so many unqualified people send in resumes these days. At one point at AGI we stopped all advertising and stopped putting our jobs out on the major internet job boards because of the unqualified responses. It took too long to slog through them.

That glut of useless resumes makes it easy for your resume to stand out. Here’s how you make it happen. 

Take the job lead you are submitting your resume for. Make sure that anyone glancing at your resume can see that you have the major skills. For programmers that means putting the languages and skills you used where they can’t be missed in 5.7 seconds. For accountants, your expertise that applies to this particular job must jump out. Salespeople need to show how good they are at a glance. Whatever makes you the best bet for the job you are applying for must stand out.

This means you may need 2 or 3 slightly different resumes. Maybe you just need to rearrange the bullet points. Try bolding the words that describe skills asked for in the ad. Put white space around the critical skill sets. Change which keywords are emphasized. Do something to get your resume past that initial 5.7 to 15 second review.

In a sea of useless resumes, you can make yours stand out and get read if you are willing to put in the effort.

Something to do today

For the next 5 times you send off your resume, give it an examination first. Take the job order and see if YOU can find the most important skills and qualifications on your resume in 5.7 seconds. If you can’t, no one can.

Get your resume read

I read The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, the abridged Reader’s Digest version. It was fantastic. I liked it so much I started reading the original by Victor Hugo. It was torture. Every building in Paris was carefully described. A walk down a street was as long as a chapter. I couldn’t finish it. 

Like Reader’s Digest did, you have to simplify your resume according to your simple plan. Your resume plan should simply be – GET A PHONE CALL.

Get a Phone Call

Make getting a phone call the point of your resume. Now remove the stuff from your resume that won’t get you a phone call. You need to entice people to call you by giving them exciting information, and NOT fully explaining it. Then they have to call you.

If you set out to simplify your resume without a simple plan, you will fail. You have to cut out the things that don’t apply to the plan you are pursuing. You may end up with three simple resumes. That’s fine. Each resume should be simplified so that it applies to one single objective and the single plan to GET A PHONE CALL.

For someone living before photographs, a description of Paris was thrilling. For someone who has been there and can see pictures of it on the internet, descriptions of Paris are chloroform in print. Victor Hugo decided on a simple plan: have a good plot, and double sales by having great descriptions. He knew his audience. He sold a lot of books to his target audience.

The same thing goes for the person who wants to be a manager. He’d better have a manager’s resume. If the same person applies for a job as a technician he needs to leave out all the manager stuff. Complexity gets confusing and discouraging to the reader… and therefore gets your resume deleted. If you want to be a hands-on manager, then show how you have done that in the past. That is actually a simple plan like Victor Hugo with plot and descriptions.

Simplify your plan, then simplify your resume. You will get a phone call.

Something to do today

Are you applying for several different kinds of jobs?

Split your resume into several distinct resumes. One simple resume for each job.

Simplify your resume into a 6 word career objective

You will find a job a lot quicker if you simplify your career objective and your resume. Simplicity will get you a phone call.

Career objectives are generally considered outdated, but some folks still include them. If you’re going to include a career objective, use it to explain what is unusual about what sort of position you’re looking for. 

Computer, Resume, Office, Manager

How a simple plan leads to success in business

Fedex has a very simple business plan.  They get packages anywhere the next day.  Google is incredibly simple.  They help people find stuff on the internet.  Microsoft started out with a simple concept.  Make personal computers work for people.  

Just like business plans, first you have to simplify your career plans.  What do you want to do, achieve or become? 

Make your career objective a 6 word sentence

I rarely read more than 6 words of the “objective” portion of a resume.  I don’t have time to read that you want to work in a team, grow, contribute, and add to the bottom line.  Who doesn’t want those things?  

Can you write your career objective in 6 words?  Would you dare put that on your resume?

Most resume screeners and managers decide whether to read career objectives based on the first few words.  Why not put your real objective there? 6 words.

Something to do today

What do you want in a job that’s different? Put that in as few words as possible in your objective. 

How to save your resume from getting deleted

Some people wisely ask, how can I hide my flaws? Others seem to ask, how can I hide my greatest strengths? 

Every resume I read is a mystery novel. For instance, an accountant dismissed in March is a lot different than one dismissed in May. March is the busy part of tax season, so, why would a competent accountant be sacked? May is a time that accountants cut back on staff. Is the firing a red flag or a red herring?

Is an 8 or 10 line “objective” on a resume a red herring? Do any of those 200 words really mean anything? A 300 word paragraph describing the last job is incredible camouflage for good and bad. 

A bullet cuts through all the fluff, just like in a murder mystery. Find the bullet, find the gun, find the murderer. I always read the first 3 bullets under a job in a resume. 

If those first 3 bullets are three red flags, then I will absolutely skip the rest. 

If those first 3 bullets are three red herrings, I may skip the rest. By skipping the rest, I may miss the one important bullet that would convince me to keep your resume.

My problem is that I am human. I am easily distracted. I have hours of work to plow through before I leave. If I see too many red herrings in your resume, I’ll push the delete key. I don’t have the time to carefully consider each bullet to see if it’s a herring or a flag.

How many pounds of red herring are in your resume?

Something to do today

Hand your resume and the job ad you are applying for to a friend. Ask them if they match. If it takes more than 15 seconds to say, “Yes!”, then you lose.

Keep learning, and you’ll never be out of a job

My grandfather was a modern farmer in 1930. The local farm bureau agent came by and said, “The government will pay you to rotate your crops.” Grandpa replied, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard. I already rotate my crops because I can grow more that way. My land doesn’t get worn out. It gets renewed.”

Grandpa was stubborn and wouldn’t take the government’s money to do something he knew he should already be doing. The guys from the conservation bureau had problems with him. He always implemented the latest ideas without waiting for them to come up with a program to get him to do it. Crazy old coot? Really, he was a visionary farmer.

Do you have to be paid to prepare yourself to earn more money? 

Reading about your field, reading books, or even listening to audiobooks on your way to work is the best way to keep current in your field. College courses in the evening are a great way to build the basics you need for a foundation for growth. Enthusiasm will get you into seminars and conventions. Pay for it yourself if you have to. It is worth it.

Don’t wait for someone to come and tell you what you need to do and learn. Go out and learn it yourself before that happens. 

Something to do today

Find new articles, books, or audiobooks in your field and write down a few things that stand out or are new to you. How can you apply that to your work?

It’s easiest to become an expert in a NEW technology

If you focus on the innovations happening around you, it can change your career. When an idea, technology or procedure is new, it takes a week to become an expert. A year later it takes a year to become an expert.

Startup, Whiteboard, Room, Indoors, Adult, Office

I became a database expert in a week when Oracle 1.0 (yes, I’m that old) came out. I talked my boss into springing for $100 to get a copy. I parlayed that into becoming a DB2 guru by buying a book. One book. I became a data modeling expert because no one else had a clue what that was. One innovation led to another, and my bosses had no desire to stop me. All the industry magazines and experts were using the buzzwords I could implement. I was on the leading edge. I was riding the wave of innovation. Every career progression was caused by taking two weeks to prepare for an upcoming, essential, mystifying technology.

Do a little internal innovation and focus on using other’s ideas and new technology. It is always easier to become an expert when technology and techniques are new. What is new in your field?

Something to do today

Try it again. The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Figure out what the buzzwords are that people are barely starting to define in your field.

Use raising technology and new techniques to get a great job

Fingerprint locks are used by tons of people on a daily basis, whether on computers or phones. People use them more often than the number or word locks because of convenience. They even have fingerprint locks for doors, and eventually I can see new locks like these being used more often than the everyday lock and key. The world changes a lot around us, and with that there are new ideas and new ways of life. 

Your job search should be like the world, always changing, always improving.

Every year thousands of people get great new jobs with massive pay raises because they have learned something new and exciting. I know average programmers who are earning $120,000 per year. They learned the latest technology and tools and have been riding the gravy train for 3 or 4 years. Accountants that can implement brand new systems are still worth their weight in gold. 

Adding a fingerprint lock helps sell thousands of new electronics to geeks like me. New technology, techniques, and skills can sell CEO’s and managers on your value.

What can you learn today? 

Something to do today

The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Try it today.

How to be persistent with your job hunt

Kids can be a practically irresistible force. I have 10 children. Usually I can resist them. Not always. Sometimes they have to admit defeat, but with kids they don’t admit defeat till they have exhausted every avenue towards success. Here’s how they win.

  1. Be totally, irresistibly, and eternally committed to a world changing idea
  2. Jump up and down with enthusiasm
  3. “No” means not now
  4. “Not now” means try again in 5 minutes
  5. Laugh, smile and tickle your dad
  6. Run around and get all the other kids excited out of their minds
  7. Ask dad for help to figure out how to do it
  8. Cry if dad is not listening
  9. See if you can turn it into a school project
  10. Ask mom to talk to dad about it
  11. Bring a partially completed task to dad to be fixed
  12. Change your plans and try again in an hour
  13. A small explosion in the yard will get dad’s attention
  14. Make it a game

Kids win because they are too excited to accept defeat. They are willing to try every possible way around an obstacle. When I am the obstacle and they are really really determined, they know they can win.

Is there a job you really really want? Why not job hunt like a kid?

Something to do today

Take a pen and paper and translate each of those 14 things into something you can use for job hunting or working for a promotion in real life.