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Resume Remedy: 5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer

by | Apr 11, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Career & Learning |

That 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)

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)

    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. letsgrowleaders

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

  3. Peter Bowden

    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….

    • letsgrowleaders

      Peter, so great to see you here. Yikes… bad grades, that trumps anything I’ve seen.

  4. Steve Borek

    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.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Steve, I wonder about the video thing. Have you seen that work well? I must say, I’ve never received one in our culture.

  5. Dallas Tye

    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?

    • Steve Borek

      Dallas, make it brief. Though consider some of the recommendations I made earlier in the post.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dallas, not sure how it goes in the whole world, but I seldom read the cover letter.

  6. Steph Gladfelter

    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.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Steph, such an important add. Thanks you. I’m going to share that insight on the LGL facebook page as well. I see so many people who overlook LinkedIn.

  7. Dallas Tye

    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.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dallas, I will spend some time with this over the weekend. Have you read The Start Up of You? If not, do. I am glad to help you.

      • Dallas Tye

        Karin I’m embarrassed by your generosity.
        Not read that,, but am about to 😉

  8. letsgrowleaders

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

  9. Vlasta

    Karin, nicely summarized.

    I’d add one hint, which I’ve never tried myself but still consider worth of doing and that is to test drive your profile/CV/cover letter. Even thou you are not searching for new challenge actively you might still notice position of your interest – just give it a try and submit your resume. You’ll get instant feedback…



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