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Fix Your Resume and Cover Letter

Many people ask me how to fix their resume and cover letter.  The answer is simple, use less words and avoid loading it with resume and business jargon.  Below I will give you an example of an actual resume and cover letter that made this mistake so that you won’t make the some one.

Qualified But Didn’t Get Job

A bit of background, John is bright management professional with a Masters Degree and close to 10 years of experience in IT. He has spent the last handful of years establishing a promising career in information technology with a high profile IT company. His good work has earned him a solid reputation, several raises and promotions. Being the type of person who constantly seeks new challenges, he is now ready to make a career move. But John realizes that his old resume just won’t cut it, so he hires a professional resume writer.

Armed with a new resume, John hits the streets and to knock on doors. After a few weeks of job search, and less than promising results for jobs that he is well qualified for he seeks a second opinion. This is when he called us.

Don’t Overdo Corporate Speak

So why did someone so qualified get bypassed for jobs that they have experience in? The answer is simple, a bad resume. When I reviewed John’s resume, it was apparent that the previous resume writer loaded it with skills like “problem solving, interpersonal skills, communication, customer service and so on” in an attempt to make more it search able by the recruitment software (resume tracking software used by employers to manage resumes). This is a typical example of someone misapplying a resume writing technique. I really empathized with John’s frustration and confusion from hiring a professional resume writer and getting less than professional results. Anyway, below is an excerpt from his cover letter to illustrate my point.

“As a qualified, results-oriented individual who values initiative I forward my resume with pleasure to __________________, in application for a position as _____________________. Upon reviewing my resume, I believe a partnered relationship will enhance your organization via critical analysis, change management, key market analysis, business development, cost reduction, business growth and a proven track record of enhanced leadership skills.

I believe the following skills will be of value to _____________________:

  • Progressive business acumen and insightful knowledge of organizational goals and requirements.
  • Excellent customer service and communication skills with stakeholders, clients and customers, and key management/personnel within a paradigm of concrete performance and evaluation processes.
  • Exemplary ability in project, people and program management addressing budgetary benchmarks and contractual obligations; optimizing cost/benefit performance.
  • Effective team building skills, engendering a spirit of recognition, accountability, responsiveness, efficiency and competitiveness.
  • Successful leadership in training and educating stakeholders, partners and customers.
  • Process-oriented/results-driven……..”

While the resume and cover letter were loaded with these key search words, it read like a list or like documents that were thoughtlessly stuffed with key search words and management gibberish. A lot articles on resume writing found on the web will tell you that you need to insert key search words. However, what they fail to explain is how to work them in naturally, thoughtfully, and strategically. This is where the science of resume writing becomes a bit of an art. For John, we analyzed the employer’s requirements, the job’s core competencies, prioritized and spoke to them. Since we have previously hired for this job as HR professionals and have analyzed it to set compensation we applied this understanding to our advantage. (I feel it is important to let you in on a little secret: Those in staffing recognize the tactic of key word stuffing and hate it).

An effective resume is one that is written for BOTH the recruitment software AND the human screening device. Remember, that behind every recruitment software and computer is a human. And while your resume must get pass the “recruitsoft gatekeeper”, ultimately it must also evoke an emotional response from the hiring manager. An effective resume will create such an emotional response, and cause the reader to read on not lose interest. This emotional response is what I like to call the “wow effect”So when writing your resume, aim for this “wow” effect and remember to write for both the recruitsoft and the hiring manager.

So until our next post, we wish you much luck and success in your career search.

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