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What’s a Resume For?

Very often, job seekers write their resume as if it’s going to determine whether they get a job or not. They fill it with an enormous amount information to answer virtually any question that may arise in an employers mind.

As a result, the resume often becomes overly verbose and too difficult to read in a brief review. Unfortunately, if it’s too hard to read quickly, it will more often than not be discarded. It’s easier to review other resumes than to figure out a “manifesto”.

Thinking through what a resume is really intended to accomplish helps craft one that is more effective in the review process.


A resume won’t get you a job. For many people, that’s a shocker! If a resume won’t get you a job, then why bother? The reality is that no one makes a decision on whether to hire a certain individual or not solely based on their resume. There are many other factors involved. Is the candidate a good fit for the organizations culture? Can they communicate effectively? Can they work well with the team? Do they present themselves well? Are they likeable? Is their background and experience what they seem to be on the resume? Those questions and others are important components that go into making a decision to hire someone. And those factors can generally best be determined in an interview.

So the best outcome is…

A resume may get you an interview. That may not be a startling revelation to many people. However, if getting an interview is the best outcome, then writing the resume to best achieve that is key!

Rather than writing the resume to answer many questions that are likely to be discussed in an interview, it should be written with the mindset of… what do they need to know to gain enough interest to find out more?

What are they looking for in a resume?

  • Relevant work experience
  • Functional or technical skills required for the job
  • Required education
  • Some indication of a track record of success in previous roles

If those factors are apparent on a resume, the likelihood of being contacted for an interview are very high. Not necessary on the resume… a detailed list of all job responsibilities in previous roles.

How do you make those key pieces of information apparent?

  • Don’t clutter the resume with long detailed paragraphs of experience or skills
  • Be sure the top requirements of the job are emphasized and easy to spot
  • Include successes and accomplishments to show competence and achievement
  • Don’t use self-descriptive words like “self-starter” when an example can demonstrate it with facts, like “Initiated a project to…”
  • Primarily include the most relevant skills and experience and leave off irrelevant information
  • All of this requires customizing your resume for each job you pursue!

Certainly more detail will ultimately be important for an employer to understand before they will be willing to make you a job offer. However, those details are better discussed in an interview rather than laid out in a resume. The resume is only required to provide enough information to gain their interest.

Your chances of landing an interview improve dramatically when you focus your resume to accomplish it’s assigned task… getting an interview… not the job!


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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great article, a very helpful understanding of why we need a resume and what it should deliver.

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