The Resume: Your Best Foot Forward

This is the single most important concept of this site, and I repeat it several hundred times (seems like, anyway) throughout the pages. This seems obvious, but honestly, most people don’t really understand this until it’s pointed out to them. Ask someone what their resume is, and the answer goes something like, “it’s the thing you send out to get a job.” Well yes, but no, not really. It’s much more than that, and you can’t approach it quite that haphazardly. Here’s why:

You, like everyone else in the world, are a complex person with many skills, faults, likes, dislikes, aptitudes, challenges, etc. You could fill a book writing about your personality alone. But you don’t have time to write it, and even if you did, I, your prospective employer wouldn’t read it. I’m busy. Really busy. I have an entire, 50-hour-a-week job to do, and that doesn’t count this whole process of sifting through resumes and doing job interviews. Plus, I prefer crime novels anyway.

So we’ve established that I don’t want to read your life story – at least, not now. But you still want the job, so you have to tell me something about yourself, and it does need to be substantive. Needs to be long on substance and short on B.S. that I’d rather not waste my time reading. And this, my friends, is why God created resumes.

Resumes exist for you, the applicant, to succinctly tell me, the employer, everything I need to know about exactly why I should hire you — and not a bit more (did I mention you’ll hear that a lot before you get to the end of this page?). Later on, I’ll examine in some pretty fine detail what you should and shouldn’t include in your resume. But first, before you even start your resume (or start to make changes to it, which you’ll almost certainly do after you’ve read this site from beginning to end), here are a couple of things you need to know first.

Many people, especially those applying for their first real job, have a very “wishful-thinking” scenario in their heads about what happens when they send their resumes off to a prospective employer. In this scenario, the boss usually sits at a huge desk in a pristine office with a lovely view. His eyeglasses (or her eyeglasses – you choose, it’s your fantasy) are dropped slightly down on his nose, and with every line he reads, he nods ever more approvingly, more assured than ever that you’re the best person for the job. He picks up his phone and calls Smith in the corner office. “Smith, have you seen the resume for this Jane Doe? Wow! Now that’s who we need!” He hangs up. He hits the speakerphone call button again. His assistant answers. “Justin, we need to get this Jane Doe in for an interview right away. Please call her and set something up this week, today if possible.” Justin the Assistant calls you and tells you that Mr. Boss likes your resume and would like you to come in. You do. After 10 minutes of getting to know each other, your suitability for the throne is confirmed, and the job is yours.

Now, here’s what really happens. Your resume arrives in the HR department, where it’s opened and placed in a stack with hundreds of others. The stack continues to grow until the HR department determines it’s gotten big enough. Then that stack is delivered not to the boss, but the unlucky slug that gets the job of sorting through them all. This unlucky slug probably isn’t excited about the prospect of sifting through 800 resumes, since his other job responsibilities haven’t decreased any, and this will only pack his schedule more tightly than it’s already packed.

But he doesn’t want to be responsible for hiring a dud, so he takes the task seriously. Over a period of days, he sifts through the resumes, hoping to weed out the 90 percent of resumes that all sound the same and discover the exceptional ones………..

but more than likely, it’s in the middle. <emphasize the “I won’t get that far” angle. Remember that I as the employer will never get my first impression from you, yourself. I’ll get it from your resume. You may be the most charismatic and knowledgeable person alive. You may have the straightest teeth around, spring-fresh deodorant and a fantastic interview outfit that makes you look so fantastic that no one could see you in it without offering you a job. But it doesn’t matter. If your resume sucks, you’ll never get the chance to show me any of it, because I won’t want to interview you.

Ever thought of it that way? Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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