Tag Archives: resume writing

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.


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.


Soon:                  Wrestlers in feather boas

Later:                  Corrections – a newborn’s grasp

Do you read under 2 ½ inches?

Most people read in 2 1/2 inch chunks.  That is why drudgereport.com and newspapers use narrow columns.

Do you have a 3 ½ inch reading span? 

Or is yours 2 ½ inches long?

To get your accomplishments and victories noticed, you have to learn the art of placement.  You need to put power words and numbers in the first 2 ½ or 3 ½ inches of each paragraph and bullet.  If you don’t, that bullet and that paragraph will not be read. 

More than 80% of resumes are tossed in the trash after a 10 second review.  More than half of the rest are tossed out after a second review of 45 seconds.  The reason is that 100 resumes may come in for a particular job.  Reviewing each resume for one minute would take over 1 ½ hours.  Instead a screener takes 15 minutes to reduce that pile to 10 or 20 resumes by trying to quickly reject the obviously unfit ones.  Since the boss doesn’t want to read even that many resumes, a 45 second review of the remaining resumes will reduce the pile to at most 5 resumes.  Then the boss takes those 5 resumes AND DOES THE SAME THING!!!!   He shuffles through the pile doing first a ten second review and then a 45 second review, hoping he only has to read one or maybe two in depth.

Can you survive that process?

What gets your resume past all the reviews is having boss stopping information where it gets read.  That means you have to have your greatest accomplishments in bullets.  Your finest deeds must be at the top of the list of bullets.  It also means you put your list of duties, if you really really feel you need to have them, in a single paragraph so they are easy to ignore until the boss decides he will slog through the whole resume.

At the bottom of www.agicc.com/resumeideas.htm are links to some very good resumes.  They are actual resumes we got permission to put on our site. They are resumes that got people jobs fast.

Your job review needs to go through the same editing process.  Let’s face it, your boss finds your job review even more boring than you do.  His boss will barely glance at it.  You have to learn to put critical information in the first 2 ½ inches of bullets.  It will earn you a lot of money.


Something To Do Today

Rewrite your list of accomplishments.  Make it into bullets.  Put the boss stopping words and numbers in the first 2 ½ inches.  Write two or three bullets for each accomplishment.  Word them different ways.  If you have the time, create a new resume or job review.  Don’t throw away your practice bullets yet.  They will come in handy tomorrow.

The best resume writing tool ever invented



This is a resume interrogation sheet, a planner. It has seriously turned around job searches when the new resume started getting phone calls.

Adventure is just bad planning. (Roald Amundsen)

Use this to plan what to put on your resume.

Something to do today

Take a look and use it to add a little zest to your resume.


Coming up

Resume spreading services

Your pay reflects your interview

You, the movie

The best resume writing book

The best book ever written on resume writing is available free for a few days.

I have posted it at www.dilts.us/books/

When it goes on Amazon, it won’t be free anymore.