Category Archives: Resumes

How to test your resume

I Dare You To Use This Resume Test

This test will get you job interviews.

Right now about 5 resumes out of every 100 make it to the hiring manager.  The average resume screener is NOT an expert in what you do.  If you are lucky he will know half of the technical terms on your resume.  The screener will decide in 10 seconds whether or not your resume comes close to being acceptable. 

After this speed test, the screener will give each resume that passed the 10 second test a 45 second read through.  If you pass that test you will finally get in the pile that the hiring manager gets to see.    Your resume has to get past the screener or you will not get interviewed or hired.

How do you test your resume?  

Find a screener of your own.

Ask a friend to look over your resume for 10 seconds.  Time them.   Snatch your resume out of their hands.  Take it away and ask them what they read.  What they tell you determines whether or not you would make the first screen test.  If you pass that test, give it back to them for 45 seconds.  Again, snatch it away and grill them about what they read.

If your resume passes this test with three different people, you have a resume that may work.  If your screener can say what you accomplished, that’s outstanding.  If he says what your duties were, that’s good.  If you are going for a programming job and he says you worked with VB.Net and C#.Net, and by the way, what are they?  You did VERY well.

Every time you submit a resume, look at the ad you are responding to.  Will your screener pick out the key phrases in the ad…..from your resume?  Test it.  Find out. 

That’s how you get more interviews.

Get my book with more resume tips here in pdf format, and a resume planner.

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Something To Do Today

Find 3 friends, acquaintances or enemies and test your resume.  If you are having trouble, go to www.agicc.com/resumeideas.htm again.  See what you can change.  My resume writing book and planner is free here.

Standing out in your resume

Any of these tools can get the job done. Which would you choose?

If a resume gets you an interview, it is a great resume. That is the only measure of success. It cannot get you a job. It can get you an interview.

Applicants want their resume to stand out. It used to be done by using extra nice paper. Sometimes the resume was sent with a single crisp fold or in a flat envelope so that it was just slightly different.

Electronically, it is harder to stand out. Content, readability and accomplishments are critical. Content is king. Anything that distracts from content shouldn’t be there. What gets attention? What  stands out, but not distract?

Photos

You may have heard that you should not be including a photo in your resume at any cost. Over the years, lawsuits have been filed charging race discrimination against companies that kept photos of applicants. The idea was that if you had a photo, you COULD discriminate. This is no longer an issue as most interviewers will check your social media profiles. Having a photo included on your resume may help you stand out to an employer.

LinkedIn profiles

The easiest resume is to go to LinkedIn and copy your profile to a PDF and send it in. I’m not sure there is a more boring way to make a resume! If an interviewer wants your LinkedIn profile, they will find it. Send something new, not what is easily available online. A unique resume that isn’t online will get you farther than a resume spammed to a thousand companies.

Logos

If you have a certification (cert) that is highly sought after, use it. If there is a well known logo associated with the cert, use it at the top of your resume. Don’t go nuts. For example, the gold standard for PC programmers is Microsoft certs or Sun Java certs. Use those logos. If you are a CPA, attach those letters to your name. Don’t add your dog training certification unless you are applying as a dog trainer.

Fancy fonts

Fonts should make your resume easy to read. Don’t mix 3 or 4 fonts on your resume. It distracts, not enhances. Please don’t use brightly colored fonts. Sometimes a resume looks okay with one other color in addition to black. Usually 3 or more font colors look terrible. Don’t distract.

Content is king. Bullets and bolding are usually all you need to attract attention to the most important parts of your resume. First work on content, form will follow.

Something To Do Today

Look at your resume. Is there anything distracting? Hand it to someone else and ask them.

How to get your resume noticed online

get noticed online to get a job

How to get your resume noticed.

How to get your resume seen online could be a book. That book hasn’t changed in the last 5 years. Here are the basics:

  1. Include every keyword that is in the job listing
  2. Figure out a way to repeat the most important key words
  3. Resubmit your changed resume occasionally

Keywords are critical

Computerized filters are being used more often. CareerBuilder, Ladders, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and all the others have them. If your resume does not have every important keyword or acronym, the computer eats it and spits out a form letter. No human sees your resume.

Put a list of certifications, education, software used, tools mastered and techniques employed at the end of the resume. Include every abbreviation or keyword in the ad. If you are missing a minor keyword, consider saying at the end of your resume, “I understand CDF and JCL but have never used them. It may get you past the computer filter. If you are submitting your resume directly to the hiring manager, you might take the list off.

Repeat important keywords

Your resume will be ranked by keyword usage. When my query brings back 300 hits, I want to see the most likely resumes first. I sort on “relevance” and cherry pick the top resumes. The best way to be ranked highly is to intelligently use the keywords multiple times.

Resubmit your resume

Job boards usually show the most recently submitted resumes first. If your resume has not been submitted for 3 months, it is at the bottom. Worse, recruiters may assume you have a job if your resume is that old. They won’t call you. Refresh your resume every week or two with a minor change.

Just these three things may change your invisible resume to a real interview magnet.

Something To Do Today

Go read the job description of the last job you submitted your resume for. Did your resume have all the keywords? Did it repeat the most important keywords?

Cover letter with impact

Tree hit by lightning

Your cover letter can have incredible energy.

The best cover letter I ever heard of was a clean sheet of paper that literally only said,

“I can do that job.”

The resume beneath it was thoroughly read. The candidate was carefully considered. A cover letter can have no greater success.

I always read the first sentence or two of a cover letter. Unless I am intrigued, I never read more. I don’t have time to read that you work hard, like people, are a team player and deserve a chance. Everyone says that. It just proves you are average.

I thoroughly read cover letters that have useful gems in the first sentence. I keep reading sentence after sentence until it gets boring. A cover letter masterpiece has me convinced to do an interview before I see the resume. It extracts 2 or 3 gems from the person’s background and displays them briefly. I want those gems. I make a decision based on those gems of information.

If you explore beneath shyness or party chit-chat, you can sometimes turn a dull exchange into an intriguing one. I’ve found this particularly to be true in the case of professors or intellectuals, who are full of fascinating information, but need encouragement before they’ll divulge it. (Joyce Oates)

To discover gems in your background, ask yourself:

  1. Why haven’t they filled this job already?
  2. What are the most critical job skills?
  3. Which of those skills is hardest to find in the job market?
  4. What have I done that proves I am way better than average?

Now craft a single short sentence that shows you are exceptional.

Create 3 more on different subjects.

Now write several short cover letters based on those sentences. Make sure each sentence in the letter proves you are extraordinary.

I would be intrigued by your gem filled letter. I would decide to interview you before I even looked at the resume.

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I know 4 people who have gotten jobs without a cover letter, and whose resume only said, “I can do that job.”  The only thing else on the resume was their contact info.  Do you say too much?

Something To Do Today

Hand your cover letter to a friend who is somewhat distracted. See how long it takes them to look like they are slogging through the letter. That’s where the boring stuff starts.

3 most critical words on your resume

job related words in a mass of confusion

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. (Mark Twain)

3 critical words

12 words is the most that people will read on a billboard.

(That was 12 words.)

1 ½ or 2 inches of print is what most people read at a glance.

12 to 15 seconds is all the time a resume normally gets in a screener’s hands before it is trashed or put in the “review” pile.

3 critical words can make or break your resume.

How to get your point across in a resume

Worry about the first 3 words people read in every paragraph and bullet point.  Those are the critical words that have to drag the resume reviewer into the rest of the line.  Think of the hiring manager.  What action, accomplishment or benefit can he see in the first 3 words?

Can’t do it?  Get a thesaurus, or use the one in your word processor.  Find the main word in that paragraph, find a high impact word to replace it with, and put that word in the first 3 words of the paragraph.  In most cases it is better to break any paragraph over 3 lines long into bullet points.  Long paragraphs are intimidating.  Reviewers don’t want to read them.  Make sure you worry about the first 3 words in every bullet point.

3 words can make or break your job search.  Work on them.

Something To Do Today

Take an electronic copy of your resume and delete everything except for the first 3 words of each paragraph or bullet point.  Leave the spacing and formatting the same.  There will be a lot of white space and blank lines.  Print it out. Put it face down on your desk.

Come back tomorrow and look at the skeleton you created.  What is its impact?  Fix it.

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Tomorrow:     email exploitation and cowardice

Later:              Absolute proof it is time to leave your job

Hirers hate resumes without clear facts

watch distorted by being underwater

Does your resume make it hard to see the most important facts?

Facts would be nice

Even job seekers with great experience hide their best qualities.  Here are a few ways they do it.

No facts, just brag

Do you say, “I am wonderful, amazing, lovable, creative, entertaining, and good????”.

Stephen King, author of more than 30 best selling horror books, wrote a book on writing.  He says, “Get rid of adjectives.”  This top author refuse to write, “She stealthily crept down the spooky staircase which creaked ominously.” Instead of using adjectives, he just tells what his character does, “She crept down the stairs.”  He says the toughest thing he has to do in his writing is to remove all the adjectives. Just give the facts.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.  (Mark Twain)

You say what everyone else also says

I’m still waiting to see a resume that states:  “I hate to work hard.  I disrupt every team. I am a pig.  I never take initiative.  I lie constantly.  I never hit my deadlines.”

I actually get that have half a page that states: “I work hard.  I am a team player. I am neat.  I take initiative.  I am honest.  I do assignments on time.”  Those paragraphs never give me any facts, so I don’t read them.

Set yourself apart

What I really want to know is: What is different because you were there?

Set yourself apart from the other 40 people applying for a job.  Use every inch of your resume to state things you have actually done.  State facts like:

         I carried a beeper and was on-call for 3 years.

         I worked late for two months to help a different team finish the Simpson Project.

         I received an award for having the neatest desk.

         I kept our biggest customer from losing $500,000 by shipping their widgets overnight, without being authorized to, because my boss was on vacation.

         I estimated my last project at 715 hours and completed it in 690 hours at $4,000 under budget.

Think about what your new boss REALLY wants

Would you rather hire someone who says, “I work hard” or someone who says, “I carried a beeper and was on-call for 3 years”?

If you write your resume like Stephen King writes his novels, you’ll get more interviews. Give the facts about what you’ve done.  Let the hiring manager use a red pen to add comments to your resume like: hard worker, takes initiative and hits deadlines.

Something To Do Today

Grab your resume and a ruler.  How many inches of text describe you without giving facts?  Many resumes have more hot air than facts.  Literally.

As fast as you can, cut your resume down to nothing but facts.  Add facts in bullet points.  Don’t worry about the relevance of the facts.  Act quickly.  See if you can create a long “facts only” resume in less than half an hour.

Now take a break until tomorrow.  Then fix that resume so that it can be used.

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Soon:                  Wrestlers in feather boas

Later:                  Corrections – a newborn’s grasp

Best resume advice in one minute

baby held by happy grandpa

Bing Crosby gave a one minute resume update lesson.

Check it out here.

Career killing shortcuts

3 different ways to go now

Choose your direction carefully.

The modern age has been characterized by a Promethean spirit, a restless energy that preys on speed records and shortcuts, unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment and the quick fix. (Jeremy Rifkin)

Lufkin is the premiere maker of the pumps sucking oil from Oklahoma’s prairies. In 1981 used Lufkin pumps were selling for more than new ones. Fancy business school graduates said Lufkin was nuts. They could sell the new pumps for much more. “Take your profit now!” they said. The owners of Lufkin said, “We’ve been here a long time. Demand goes up and demand goes down. We will service our customers the best we can. We won’t take advantage of them when they are desperate. When the bubble bursts we will still be here. We’re in this business for the long haul.” Today, after decades of recessions and some good times in their business, they still make a solid profit, now as a GE subsidiary.

In the recruiting business one recruiter said, “I take people out of one rut, and put them into a different rut.” Some recruiters don’t care. I do. I find people in good jobs who could do significantly better. I then place them in a job where they can more quickly meet their career goals. I help people shave years off of their career growth. I move them into a better long term opportunity.

Be mindful of how your resume looks. People who have changed jobs 3 times in 2 years have a hard time getting a great job. Later, even after 3 or 5 years in one job their resume is tainted. The manager hiring for a great job wants someone who will be there a long time. He knows he can attract bright stable workers. Why should he settle for someone who may be gone in 6 months?

A new job should give you a significant LONG TERM advantage. It should help you take charge of your career. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times. In 2005 he only won one day out of 21 racing days. On one day he was 20 minutes behind the fastest bike. But he was always mindful of where he was in relation to his competition. He made sure he had the best bike and the best team even if he wasn’t getting the glory of being first over the finish line. Looking for the long term advantage is how he won.

Find the best team and opportunity you can. Get in it for the long haul. Go win. You cannot speed up your career by taking a lot of shortcuts.

Something To Do Today

Write down your career goals in your job journal. Where do you really want to go? Can your current team get you there? If not, time to change teams.

He ignored $100,000,000 to get a new job – it’s magic

ace up his sleeve

Resume magic may get you a job.

I turned a $100,000,000 food scientist into a Java programmer. Seriously, I did. I used resume magic to give him a career change.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  He was proud of his PhD, and that was hurting him.  He had to stop emphasizing the $100,000,000 product revenue stream he had generated for his company.  Instead he had to emphasize his work in developing computer systems.  He had to finish getting his Java programming certifications. He also agreed to a 40% pay cut.

When we finished, he found his own job.

Writers fall in love with their work.  Every word is a work of art.  When you put together your resume, you are even more in love with your work because it is about you.  You can’t possibly leave out how you gave CPR to a chipmunk and saved its life. Leave it out anyway.

Now do something even harder.  Stop looking at the things YOU find most interesting.  Look in your career for proof that you can do the job you are applying for. Make a list of all the duties of the job you want.  Now make a list of all of the times you have done those duties.

That food scientist had helped design computer systems.  He had put together a few small applications to help him track data.  He passed the Java certification test.  We expanded those programming related accomplishments.  It took him a year, but he got the job.

Magic is the art of misdirection.  Illusion is achieved by getting people to concentrate on what you want them to perceive.  Put a little magic into your resume. Get rid of the things that don’t apply, even if they are your proudest achievements.  Emphasize what is important.

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true.  You may have to work for it, however. (Bach)

Something To Do Today

Just for the exercise, take a job you want to apply for and create a ½ page resume for it.  Only leave your greatest accomplishments that apply towards that job.  I’ll bet you cut out a lot of fluff.

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Later:  Imperfect and highly paid

The best resume focusing exercise in the world

hunter shooting an arrow

Your resume will be deadly if it is properly focused

As a recruiter, I use this exercise with problem resumes that just aren’t getting people interviews. First I need to explain why the world’s greatest resume focusing exercise works. Then I will explain the exercise.

For years the joke has been: “Yesterday I was a truck driver. I passed a test today, so now I am a network technician. What’s a network?”

If you started out as truck driver and worked your way up to become the COO of a company, that’s great. Don’t mention the truck driver experience, unless you want to be a truck driver again.

Your resume has one purpose: to get you an interview!

Leave out delightful tales unrelated to the job you are applying for. If you really need to show your job progression, then start out writing about your most recent triumphs at the top. At the very bottom of the particular job section write: I started as a truck driver.

So, you’ve worked there 15 years and only been a computer security expert for 2 years? I don’t care. Your resume is not a confession of crimes and psychological problems. Put down what you did for 2 years and let the interviewer find out more. Your resume is only to get you an interview. It is not a warning to potential employers.

If you emphasize what you have accomplished, the person reading the resume will know how “heavy” you are in the job you are applying for. List projects you completed, improvements you made, money you saved, and new clients you helped bring in. If the list is impressive it won’t matter that you spent ¾’s of your time filing reports and ¼ of your time as a sales manager.

Leave out disqualifiers. Emphasize how you have saved money, brought in new revenue streams, increased customer happiness, speeded up processes and helped the company succeed. Your resume is supposed to get you an interview. Leave out all the stuff that doesn’t apply to the job you want.

Something To Do Today

This exercise is to keep you from using the following idea in your resume:

“If you can’t beguile them with brilliance, baffle them with bulls**t.”

Writing exercise time. Take your resume and first expand it to 4 or more pages by including all the responsibilities and accomplishments you have ever had.

Make a new copy. Cut out every line that is only responsibilities. This second copy should list only the projects completed, customers pleased, money saved and new clients you brought in. There should NOT be any lines that say “supervised”, “responsible for”, or “supported.”

Make a new copy. Cut it down to ½ page. Yes, ½ page. List only the accomplishments that directly apply to a job you want.

Now cut that ½ page to ¼ page.  Use those incredibly brief but important accomplishments in your cover letter or email body.

This is an exercise. Apply what you learned to the resume you send out for a job.

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Later:      Persistence

Premature withdrawal

Job security – what permanent means

$250,000 too proud

How fast

Daydream