Disclaimer: I am not a certified, highly-trained, professional resume writer. I don’t write material so that its metadata can be recognized by machine code and spat out for eventual downstream HR glances.
Instead, I advocate writing human. You know, being clear about who you are and what you want.
People hire people, not keywords.
If you want to be hired by humans, I’d suggest that you write your resume for humans. <—-(tweet this)
Having nearly choked dozens of times reviewing resumes and LinkedIn profiles that are so obscured by vagueness and jargon that they are incomprehensible, I decided to create a sample “How Not-To” resume for one Phineas Fogg – enjoy:
Now, let’s get out of the Fogg. Here are 4 tips for making a more human self-presentation:
1. Have a very clear objective. Don’t go fishing for just any kind of job with obscure language like, “Driven business leader with proven track record of increasing profitability and sustainable growth by leveraging thought leadership and strategic real-time business execution…” What does this type of jargon mean? Precisely nothing – it’s generic commodity language. How about this: Seeking to help a small start-up grow to the next level by heading up all facets of software development operations (and then showing, in the rest of the resume, why and how you are ideal for this role). Now we know where you’d best “fit” – what you do, what type of company will most need your skills, and what area of responsibility is ideal for you. It’s up to YOU to know what you’re after – don’t expect the marketplace to define your best role.
2. Tell a clear story. Once you know what type of position you’re seeking, re-frame the outline of your skill sets and past positions to reinforce the “story” of how you got to where you are, and how the position you seek is the next logical advance. By this, I don’t mean that you make stuff up – I mean that you should underscore the particular strong suits and accomplishments from past roles that highlight your chosen direction. Show progression in a clear direction; don’t just seek to win a bullet-point listing contest. If you did operational tasks as well as some marketing and a bit of sales and account management, don’t treat those as co-equal facets. Let the advances in operations be at the forefront – that’s the story you’re trying to tell.
3. Less is better. People only have so much time to scan a resume or LinkedIn profile. You really have only 5-10 seconds to grab attention. By listing 43 skill sets, 17 personality profiles, 63 achievement awards, and overly florid descriptions of every task you ever undertook for each employer, you’re committing Job Search TMI (Too Much Information). Get to the point and streamline. Trying to say too much means that you are desperately hoping to get someone’s attention somewhere, instead of pro-actively putting the spotlight where YOU want it to be. Here’s a bad example:
Phineas is experienced in:
- B2C & B2B Marketing
- Strategic Planning
- Tactical Execution
- Business Development
- Clinical and Consumer Research
- New Product Development
- Cross-Functional Team Development
- Contract Negotiations
- Database Programming
- Change Management
- Inspiring Leadership
- Matrix Management
- Visionary Thinking
- Crisis Management
You’re not helping me here (and you’re not helping yourself). What this list tells me is that you’ve done a bunch of things, and you don’t know what you want next. Since I am not looking to hire a jack-of-all-trades, don’t position yourself as one.
4. Get rid of jargon. Biz-speak jargon is the plague of resumes. But also, be careful about using obscure industry-specific jargon and acronyms. You’re so used to referring to DDMAC, that you assume all your readers will understand. They won’t. You pride yourself on “re-organizing the marketplace to catalyze and scale new economic systems”? Great – save that for your geeky friends. Be sure your profile passes the human being test – have a few members of the unbaptized read it and see if they understand what you’re saying, and eliminate phrases that don’t get to the point. Your main job is to communicate your value in terms regular people can understand, not obscure it via overuse of insider-speak.
Those are my four tips. What are yours? Please feel free to add them in the comments!
If you’d like to receive brief, to-the-point tips on making yourself clear, subscribe to the Clarity Blend e-newsletter (see sidebar, above right)——> You’ll receive a free copy of my e-book. Make Yourself Clear: Six Steps to De-Fogging Your Direction and Your Message.