Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Overused words may kill your resume – market yourself by proving you are great with examples instead of adjectives.

People who review resumes hate “fluff”, those self-assessment terms that do nothing but fill space in a resume. A resume is an advertisement intended to attract the reader and make that person want to grab the telephone and call you. Fluff detracts from your purpose of creating the resume. To eliminate fluff, sell the results of your work:

Replace Self-Assessing Adjectives

Replace terms that describe character with specific content to demonstrate how you accomplished or achieved something. Rather than saying “Successful track record doing …” describe what you accomplished, the results of your work. Example: Demonstrate you are “results-oriented” by indicating on your resume a result and how you achieved it; “Achieved a 98% customer satisfaction rating with over XXX thousand customer responses.” If you don’t actually have numbers, you can approximate percentages: “Introduced new procedures that slashed cycle times approximately 20%.”

Use Numbers and Symbols

Hiring managers are charged with achieving results usually measured in numbers. Numbers and symbols quickly jump out at them, so show them you are “results-oriented rather than saying so; use numbers whenever you can. Percentages are often best as they show the impact of your efforts, but can be improved by showing the magnitude of the change; if I increased something from 1 to 2, I have changed it by 100%, but if I increase it from 100 to 101, I have only changed it by 1%. Note the difference.

Although numbers are best, qualitative statements like “consistently recognized for delivering quality results at less cost than budgeted” showcase your effectiveness even when you don’t have the actual numbers.

Don’t List Responsibilities of Your Previous Jobs – Demonstrate Outcomes

What your responsibilities were is important but often they don’t take more than a few words to say. And sometimes your title explains it all. For instance if you were a Sales Manager and a company is looking for a Sales Manager, they certainly know what a Sales Manager does, so you need not explain it. If it is not obvious what your responsibilities were, try to restrict your explanation to one brief sentence. An employer is more interested in how well you performed in the job. From that they can infer what you might be able to do for them.

Only Detail Specialized Technical Skills

Today’s employers expect candidates to know basic computing skills and programs, so usually listing them is not necessary. However, when you do list any technical skill, tell an employer how well you know the specific program by detailing what you may have created or did with it; use the term in context. Simply listing a specific program will not help an employer understand how well you know it or what your capabilities are.

If you fill your resume with the results of your work instead of fluff you should see a dramatic improvement in your job search results.

For help with this and other job search topics, email me at 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I am often asked “Should I include career goals on my resume? This is something I have received conflicting advice on.”

This same question has been asked many times before. Here's my opinion on it:

Don't put goals or objectives on your resume!

Some years ago virtually all resumes had objectives statements. Then the invention of the internet arrived on the scene and line job advertising replaced newspaper ads and snail-mail. Today people tend to want more job experiences, do not feel they want to stay with one company like their fathers and mothers, thus want shorter job lengths. Coupled with higher unemployment, this has resulted in more frequent job applications among those employed plus those forced into job searching. There must be millions of people applying for positions daily,  burying companies in applications.

With the volume of applications today, the employer is forced into finding ways to shortcut the job filling process. They spend less time deciding whether to call a candidate for an interview.

They are likely to assume the job you are responding to is your objective.

If it is not they may reason, why would you be applying? They are likely to reject you.

And if it is, there are better ways to state it than "Objective: My objective is ...."

If you are one of those who respond to "everything" without regard to your true qualifications you will be screened out quickly.

Goals and Objectives become ‘fluff’, that junk nobody wants to read that simply consumes space on a resume and makes it more difficult to perform a cursory ‘first look’.

Here’s the bottom line: What the employer wants to know today is your name, how to reach you, what you do (what your brand is), what your core competencies are and what the results of your work are (the benefits of hiring you). This is the essential information needed for making a decision to contact you for consideration. They also want to know a lot more about how you will fit in their company. They will vet you with their own personal network and use all other resources available to them to find out more about you as a person (and you should do the same about them).

To get a response to your resume, what your responsibilities were and/or are, is important information but not nearly as important as what the outcome of your work has been (accomplishments and results), so keep the descriptions of your responsibilities brief. Focus on results.

There are some exceptions I make to this guidance: Objectives will work for those new grads who have no prior experience but have a specific job goal they are seeking or in those situations where a job or career goal is specifically asked for. However, an objective can be incorporated into a branding statement where it may be more effective.

Your message should be focused, crisp and succinct if you want to get attention.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.