Resume Remedy: 5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer

April 11, 2013 — 16 Comments

iStock 000001141315XSmall 300x199 Resume Remedy:  5 Questions Your Resume Must AnswerThat guy with the job posting already has an “obvious choice.”  He’s been grooming several mentees.   Others have invested in informational interviews.  HR told him he had to post the job, so he’s got a stack of candidates.  You’ve got a slim chance.  How will your resume stand out?

Your resume must scream, “you would be a knucklehead if you didn’t talk to me….”  I’ve read such resumes.  I’ve hired the not-so-obvious choice.  It started with a resume that could answer my questions.

5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer

Even if you’re not looking for a job now, pull out your resume.  Are you listing responsibilities, or telling a powerful story?

1. Do you drive sustained results?

Most resumes talk responsibilities, scope and scale.  Instead, talk % improvement, growth, or $ saved.  Resumes must talk numbers.  Include your story of sustained change.  Resumes without data are fluff.

2. How do you lead?

Provide evidence of leadership. Briefly talk approach.  If you led people, don’t describe your accomplishments in  terms of “I.” No fluffy words.  Specifics invite conversation.

3. Can you adapt and grow?

Show me risks.  Linear career path?  Talk  volunteer gig.  Explain how you lead in risky times.

4. Do you care about quality?

Every job search book says, “use spell check.”  80% of resumes I receive include typos.  Or… bad formatting…. or misdirected audience.   Fix it, or don’t send it.

5.  Can you drive innovation?

Talk about how you drove change.  Describe how you are an irresistible change agent.  (This could be a key differentiator between you and the obvious choice)

Additional Resources:

Want to Know What a Great Resume Looks Like?
How to Stink at a Behavior Based Interview
There is no such thing as a Vine Resume

What advice do you have for making resumes stand out?

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16 responses to Resume Remedy: 5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer

  1. I hire around 30 seasonal staff every year. We receive tons of resumes and applications. Most of the people who submit resumes should read this article. I get a lot of resumes that actually tell me nothing about the person. My personal pet peeve however….fancy fonts.

  2. Eric, ahh yes… should have added the more form than substance thing. Totally agree.

  3. I receive a lot of horribly formatted resumes. Beyond your great suggestions, what surprises me is some of the things people choose to include. This week a resume from a college student included a list of courses and grades with half of those grades being Cs and Ds. So it was a D in religious studies, but still….

  4. I’m not a big believer in resumes though they’re not going away any time soon.

    If I were looking for a job today, I’d have a web page about myself. Have this link on your resume.

    Another idea is to create a video of yourself. Again, put the url on your paper.

    Last, hire a blue chip resume copywriter. They can be expensive costing from $300-$750 but they’re worth every dollar. Your resume has to stand out amongst the hundreds an employer will receive.

  5. Karin, you’re weirding me out a little. I actually spent some time this week polishing up my resume because I’m about to start looking for a new role,,, and now you present me with a this!

    I can put this and the other suggestions here to work straight away. Thank you.

    I have a question for anybody if I may.

    What about the covering letter? Maybe off topic, but they seem to form part of the story.

    Should it be brief, long, or possibly unnecessary?

  6. Steph Gladfelter April 11, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Hi Karin,
    Thanks for all of the great tips of the trade you share. I had to respond here because as I am looking over resumes, I always check the person out on Linkedin as well. I spend very little time on the resume, more time on Linkedin, who they know and more importantly who knows them. Whether right or wrong, if the person has not posted a linkedin profile – they normally do not stand out for me.

  7. So is there a ‘perfect formula’ for a resume?

    > how many pages? (I’ve had a few roles in 20+ years)

    > include LinkedIn (tick)
    , feel free to give me a ‘once-over’, bit of a newbie on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dallastye :)

    > Covering letter (short)

    > Video? I’ve not seen one of these however I had good supporter of mine and senior HR Leader suggest publishing a website so people could get to know the person
    (maybe its a blog we need instead)

    > Links. Something new I’m trying,, don’t know if its a distraction or not,,, where I’ve added a comment on what I’ve done and have some related example, I have screen shot it and placed it in my online folder service.
    e.g. “we collected pre and post workshop data http://screencast.com/t/EbAjvkOc

    I figure if they don’t click, nothing lost,, if they do, great.

    > Final check- via Karin’s list above.

  8. Dear, all. I do love Steph’s thought. LinkedIn matters. Be careful. There is some nonsense out there.

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