Tag Archives: resume format

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 www.agicc.com/resumeideas.htm 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. 

Super short resumes that work

Sometimes an extremely short resume is better than a long one. When? I go into that in this short video.

Make an incredible standout resume adding a new reference format

We got a resume that was 30 pages long.  It included a CD with all the documents and even more information.  Karen and I laughed about the ego of the guy who did it.  We looked through it to see why he thought he needed so much information.  We called and talked to him and told him it was too much. In short, it was the perfect resume.

The perfect resume gets read, discussed, carefully checked and finally gets a call to the person who sent it.  It wasn’t until a year later that I realized just how effective that huge resume had been. I had called and discussed a lot of details with the owner. Perfect.

Enterprising job searchers have come up with a lot of ways to set their resumes apart.  Different kinds of paper, a CD, a business card sized CD, audio, video, youtube, a 5 word cover letter, photos, a sculpture included in a box, candy, and a singing delivery person have all been used. The idea is to do something that sets you apart in a positive manner.  It also has to be something that does not diminish your printed out email resume.

Adding audio or video is relatively simple.  My next two letters will detail different ways to add references you can see or hear.  One is using a telephone.  It is extremely easy.  The other requires a recorder, software and a website.  If you want to make a real audio or video production, it is the way to go.

Is audio for you?  Do you want your references to be instantly available to anyone who gets your resume.  Will your own voice get you calls for interviews?  You’ll have to decide.  I’ll show you how to do it.

Something to do today

Are your references willing to be recorded?  Find out.


Later:             The easy way to add audio to your resume

When is your resume thrown away?

We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.  (Gardner)

Hiroshima, WWII:  “I sure wish I could find rice for my family. Hey, what is that lone airplane doing above the city? Oh well, I’ve got more important things to worry about.”

Sometimes timing is everything and you are worrying about the wrong problems.  For your resume there is a timing pattern you must understand.  You have to break through the following pattern to get hired:

  1. Your resume arrives along with 100 others.  The secretary trashes 80 after a 10 second review apiece.
  2. The secretary trashes 10 more after giving them 45 seconds apiece.
  3. Her boss gets the 10 remaining resumes and trashes 2 after a 10 second review.
  4. The boss throws away 3 more viable resumes.  He just doesn=t have the time to deal with more than 5.  For the 3 trashed, something is not quite right.
  5. He calls the 5 remaining candidates, starting with the best one.

Can you see why knowing when your resume is thrown out is critical?

Every time you send out a resume and fail to get an interview you should ask, “Who threw away my resume?”

Ask the question of yourself.  Also ask your recruiter and the HR person at the company.  Beg, if you have to.  You need to find out when and why your resume is not being considered.  Also be sensitive to the recruiter and HR.  They may lie to you.  They don’t want to argue.  They want to be powerful and all-knowing.  Play on that and ask for advice as you try to find out when your resume was trashed.

Next time we’ll talk about how to get past the screenings and into an interview.  For now, try to figure out when your resume is being thrown away.

Something To Do Today

Make some calls.  Find out where your resume is being trashed.

Ask some friends, they may be able to give you some ideas too.

Halloween and your job search

Tips for job seekers and Halloween trick or treaters are just about the same.  Think about how each of these directly applies to looking for a job.

  1. If you are scared, get your dad (a coach) to help on a few doors.
  2. Dress for success.  Look the part from your hair to your shoes, bag and greeting.
  3. The neighborhood you call on defines the size of the treats you get.
  4. Not everyone is giving out one pound candy bars, but they are all worth visiting.
  5. The more houses you call on, the more likely you will get a one pound candy bar.
  6. Go BACK to the biggest house with the best candy later.
  7. The most successful trick or treaters plan their routes and run from door to door.
  8. If you don’t knock, they won’t answer.
  9. If the porch light is out, you won’t get any candy, but you may get advice.
  10. Some of the scariest houses give the best treats.
  11. You get more treats if you start early and work late.
  12. Asking for candy in the traditional way works, ingenuity may get you more.
  13. Helping a little kid can double your take.
  14. Always say thank you.
  15. Sometimes they just ran out of treats, sorry.
  16. Going with friends (groups and social media) can make a scary neighborhood safer.
  17. It is a night of cold calling, even if you know the people.
  18. Trade candy (leads) afterwards to get what you really want.
  19. If you go to a party instead, and complain, you won’t get a big bag of candy.
  20. Don’t blow out the candle in the pumpkin.
  21. Do it again next year, only better, now that you have experience.

Wow!  I could write 21 articles based on those points.  Let me make a few quick points instead.

  1. Planning and preparation. If you want the best chance of quick success, take 15 minutes each day and an additional 4 hours each week to review results, make lists, THINK, and plan for the coming week.  And make sure you have resumes that are attractive so people to call you back.
  2. Work hard and fast. Actually do what you plan.  Make calls and contacts daily.  It is amazing how often luck follows hard work.
  3. Go back again. You should be talking to your best prospects at least monthly.  If you spend 15 minutes thinking and looking for a reason to call, you can usually come up with a helpful reason to call almost anyone.
  4. Work together. Share leads.  Offer to critique other’s resumes.  Suggest websites, books, and other job search ideas.  A lot of people find the perfect job in the castoffs and contacts from someone else’s search. Go to someone else’s house and both of you make calls at the same time.
  5. Be polite. Just because they say “No” doesn’t mean they hate you.  Say thank you and contact them again if it is a company you really want to join.  Never burn bridges or “blow out the candle” with anyone.

Have a great Halloween, and an even better job search.  Good luck finding that one pound candy bar!

Hymnbooks and resumes

To be chosen, you first must be seen.

Hymnbooks and resumes      

You haven’t got a prayer of having your resume read unless you remember a hymnbook.

A resume should be created with a hymnbook in mind.  A hymnbook is created so that a singer may read the text and the music without shifting their eyes.  An organist can play a measure or two with one glance.  A chorus director can read all 4 singing parts and the text in quick glances. 

So why is this important? Because most resumes are thrown out in 10 seconds.

From the top line of the top staff of music to the bottom line of the bottom staff of music is 1 to 1  1/2 inches.   The width of one measure is usually the same.  A trained musician can read two measures wide, or about 3 inches of music, in one glance.  Have you noticed that when there are too many verses, some are moved from between the music staffs to the bottom of the page?  If the line gets too wide, it takes two glances to read it.

Your resume must be set up for maximum impact to get you an interview.  It should be created in high impact sections.  Each section should be the same size and shape as two measures of music in a hymnbook:  1 to 1 2 inches high by 2-3 inches wide.

Most people look at a page in rectangular sections.  Go to some high volume internet sites.  They are arranged in small rectangular sections with high impact.  Pull down menus in computer programs are also sized about the same.  The reason is because you can read all that information at a glance.  

Your resume has to sing to get you an interview.  A reader=s eyes will naturally pause in three or four places on your resume.  That is where the most compelling evidence of your attitude and productivity must be displayed.  Bullet points break up an unreadable paragraph into high impact, one glance sections.  Key words in bold become the center of focus. 

Look at your resume.  Does it read like a hymnbook in one glance rectangular sections? Or does it look like a monotonous term paper with huge paragraphs strung completely across a page.  Time to get it into readable rectangular impact areas.  


My free resume planner is available at www.agicc.com/resplangeneral.pdf .

That pesky resume. Is it working?

If it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape.  If it should move and doesn’t, use WD-40.     You can fix anything if you can figure out why it isn’t working.

In college there was a 1930’s Rolls Royce in our apartment’s garage.  It was gorgeous.  It didn’t run.  It was useless for transportation.  Is your resume like that Rolls Royce?  Is it beautiful, but not doing what you need it to do?

Resumes are only supposed to do one thing….get you an interview.  No matter how pretty it is, how hard you worked on it or how much you paid to get it written, it is not working unless it gets you an interview.

 6.3 reasons why resumes don’t get interviews

  1. You are not qualified.
  2. The resume doesn’t address the job requirements
  3. Your qualifications are hidden or camouflaged
  4. Only responsibilities are mentioned, not accomplishments
  5. There is nothing memorable

6.3            You don’t send it out

If you are not qualified, don’t cry because no one calls you back.  You are relying on luck and luck is fickle.

If you don’t send out any resumes, no one will answer you either. (Duhhh!)

The other four points will take longer to go over.  We’ll do that in the next few days.

That Rolls Royce was a collector’s item.  It was for looking at.  Your resume is not a collector’s item.  It is not a job application.  It is not a due diligence audit.  It is not your life history.  It has one job to get you an interview.  If you are not getting interviews, let’s fix the resume.

Six Ads For One Job – part two

You see 6 ads for one job you really want.  It is so good you would quit you’re your current job just to apply.  What do you do?

High Priority Jobs

Getting your resume into the hiring manager’s hands is your quest.

First gather information. 

Is there anything that makes you think the writer of one of the ads knows the hiring manager personally?

Check the date on all those ads.  When were they posted?  What day did they appear?  List when the company and each agency first advertised.  Did an agency advertise before the company itself?  They may have a close tie to the hiring manager.  Have the ads been going on for months?  The company is either getting a little desperate, has decided not to fill the job, or the job is full but recruiters haven’t bothered to pull the ads yet because they are still getting lots of calls. 

How are the ads different?   Does one include a lot more in-depth information?  Is another extremely short?  Look closely.  Do any of them make you feel like the writer talked to the manager?  You want to talk to someone who has the hiring manager’s ear.

Second work your network.

Call the people you know at the company, or invite them out to lunch.  Call up recent employees.  What can you find out about the job?  Is there someone who can personally take your resume to the hiring manager?  How about to the hiring manager’s boss?  This is still the research phase.  Don’t give anyone your resume yet.  You only get to submit it once.

Is there a recruiter you trust?  Find out what information they have.  If they can bypass HR (Human Resources) or have other great connections then work with them.  For instance, there is one company I work with that requires all recruiters to submit resumes through their online system.  But I call the HR manager and tell her when my candidates go in so she can immediately extract them.  She is afraid of missing a truly hot candidate.  Other people who submit themselves are first sorted through by the receptionist. 

You really do have to quiz recruiters about their connections.  If you answer a particular ad when there are 6 ads out there, you have a right to ask why you should send a resume in through them.

Third decide how to apply.

If the job is not exciting, it doesn’t matter how you submit your resume.  Just do some quick cosmetic changes and submit it through an agency or the HR department.

For the job that really turns you on, figure out who should submit your resume.  For any company it could be you, a friend, recruiter or acquaintance.  Choose in this order:

  1. Someone who can hand your resume to the hiring manager and personally recommend you.  It doesn’t get any better.
  2. Whoever can get your resume past HR and talk to the manager.
  3. The person that can talk to the HR manager or screener and get you past the first cut.
  4. At this point all submissions really are equal. Do it yourself, have an employee there submit you to HR or let a recruiter you trust and who gets back with you do it. 

Fourth get your resume perfect

Put the bullets on your resume in order of importance.  Put a few key words in bold to make sure the screener and manager sees them.  Get rid of bullets, lines and sentences that do not apply to the job!!  A two page resume is fine for most jobs, but the second page may never get read.

Do the 10 second test with several people.  Hand your resume to a few friends and ask them to read it for 10 seconds.  Time them.  Take it away in 10 seconds.  Ask what they remember.  Do they mention your most important qualifications and accomplishments? If they do, it’s a winner.  If not, change it.

The 10 second test is critical because most screeners and managers give all the resumes a 10 second review to try to find the best ones first.  They will probably throw out your resume without further reading if they can’t see what they want in that first 10 seconds.

Fifth submit and follow up

Submit your resume.  Call up and find out what happened two days later.  Did your resume arrive there?  Did the manager see it yet?  When will he decide? 

You really want that job? After your two day follow up call send a thank you note. Give them a nudge, short and friendly.  It is amazing how a thank you note can get someone to personally try one more time for you.

Keep calling back at least weekly.  Sometimes it does take a couple of months to fill a job.  Keep your candidacy alive until it is pronounced dead by someone who knows.

Take Your Best Shot

If you really want a job.  Go all out.  There may be 100 applicants.  In some cases there may be 1000.  Use personal contacts to set yourself apart from the herd.  Make sure your resume instantly says, “I’m qualified.”  And follow up in case you somehow get missed.


Something To Do Today

Start prioritizing all the jobs you can apply for.  On your written list make sure the jobs you crave stand out.  Treat them differently.  It is worth the extra effort.

Tricks To Get Past The Screeners

First of all, apply for every job you are qualified for.  It is impossible to tell if the job is real.  You may as well take 5 minutes and apply.

Did you notice I did NOT say take 15 seconds and apply?  Internet job boards let you send off a resume without thinking.  You can send off a hundred in an hour.  That just assures you of 100 failures.  If you take 5 minutes and send off an effective resume for each job, you’ll do better than if you spam every employer in your area.

Most resumes are screened out electronically for large companies.  Every company then uses a clerical screener to throw out 90% of the resumes that are left with only a 10 second glance.  The remaining resumes get a 45 second read through and often only 5 out 100 original resumes are seen by anyone outside of HR.

Machines only care about one thing….a perfect match.  You have to have every requirement.  Look at the job order.  Does it have an acronym like “MS Word”?  Then have “MS Word” and “Microsoft Word” in your resume somewhere.  Does it ask for “PC experience”?  Then put the words “PC experience” somewhere.  You may want to put a “Technology Experience” section at the end of each job or the end of the resume.  You can put PowerPoint, Access, SAP A/R, Lawson GL and other cryptic requirements there.  The machine will find an exact match and you will get to the clerical screener.

The clerical screener really wants to throw out as many resumes as possible.  Every one he keeps means more work.  Look at the job listing.  What are they asking for?  Don’t bury your most important experience in a paragraph.  Screeners do not read paragraphs.  They read

  • The first 5 words in bullets and paragraphs.
  • The first 3 bullets only.
  • Job titles that are in bold type
  • Words that are in bold type. 

They may read italicized words, but not as often as bold.  Warning:  Don’t camouflage your qualifications by bolding everything YOU think is important.  Only bold the things asked for in the ad.

Make sure a screener who doesn’t want to have to read your whole resume sees you match the job.


Something To Do Today

For every job you are applying for, create a resume that will get past the screeners.  Bullet and bold everything the job ad asks for.

I Dare You To Use This Test

This test applies to resumes and often to job reviews.  The principles are the same.

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 your resume 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 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 ADO.Net, and by the way, what are they?  You did 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.

And think about those long, boring job reviews.  Don’t you think the same test, altered depending on your circumstances, could be of help?  Test what your manager’s boss will really read.


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.