Writing the Winning Resume
Posted Sunday, May 25th, 2014
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Published in SatMagazine,  September, 2013

Writing the Winning Resume

by Bert Sadtler 

As consulting-recruiters, we at Boxwood frequently are asked questions about what makes a good resume today. Candidates remember the interviewing process in the past and mistakenly try to follow those same steps today.  In the past, hiring managers took a deep dive into a resume. Much has changed. Recruitment at the senior level is giving the resume a smaller seat at the table. Today’s resume requires an adjustment in expectations, philosophy and execution.

 When writing your resume, think about the purpose, which is to attract an interest in you and your ability to solve an employer’s business problem. After all, the target audience is the employer/hiring manager who is busy with very limited time. Be succinct.

 The expectation of a resume should be a simple one. The best resume is the one that got the meeting, which then landed the job. Beyond that, there is no absolute answer on measuring a great resume itself. Nor should there be any more of an expectation. No one gets hired on a resume alone in 2013.

OBSERVATIONS: PAST vs. PRESENT

 The marketplace is changing. Therefore, the value, purpose and expectations of a resume are changing.

– In the past, a job seeker could try to differentiate himself with a resume written on expensive paper. Employers appreciated the original, creative approach. Prior to the internet, the resume carried more weight for a prospective employer to learn about a candidate.

– Today, hiring managers are glancing at an electronic display of a resume and seeking specific facts. They spend as little as 10-15 seconds  on each resume. The resume now serves as simple data point among many to obtain information about a candidate.

– In the past, many professionals retired from the same career after 30 years.

– Today, professionals change jobs an average of every 3-5 years.

– In the past, what you accomplished and what information you possessed was very credible to an employer.

– Today, information is universally accessible through the internet. Professionals need to be capable of accessing data to solve a business problem through critical thinking. The employer’s focus is more about what can the talent do and less about what have they done.  In other words: “Can you?”, not “Did you?”

– In the recent past, professionals would post their resume and take a “passive” approach to job seeking.

– Today, the marketplace is cluttered with qualified talent. Candidates must take an “active” approach to job seeking.

– In the past, expectations of a resume were that a good one might get you hired.

– Today, a resume is an admission ticket to schedule a live conversation and should be written to provide enough factual information that the reader wants to know more.

FORMATTING TODAY’S RESUME

– Consider that if your resume is viewed via PC screen, only the top 1/3 may be in view on a small screen. Therefore, any fluff makes it hard for the reader to see the “meat”.
– Develop a document that contains only empirical data about professional accomplishments & education. This establishes candidate credibility. It says that all listed items are factual, nothing is subjective. It sets an important tone.
– Write it in chronological order of employment. “CHALLENGE-ACTION-RESULTS”. Most recent to least recent followed by education and certifications.
– Eliminate: Objective and Profile Summary. The Objective is irrelevant and the Profile Summary is subject to interpretation. These are not a depiction of empirical data.
– At the top of the page: List your name as you are known. No need for legal name, just the name you use. (It is a resume, not a death certificate). – Make it easy to be contacted. List one phone contact, one email address and home address (optional). Start listing employment history right below contact information.
– Total length of pages is not important

EXECUTING TODAY’S RESUME

– In the past, an employee was very likely to remain in the field of work where they originally started. (Example: Engineers)
– Today, employees change fields frequently and the resume needs to be applicable for an unlimited number of new directions. Using only empirical data will make this easy.
– Creating today’s resume as a template of historical work experience provides the professional with a 360 degree view of employment opportunities. Note: This is a significant shift in the paradigm of job seeking.
– In the past, resumes were sent to job boards, job postings and to destinations through a cold-call approach.
– Today’s marketplace is unreceptive and unresponsive to cold-calls. Warm-calls have become a requirement.

Executing today’s resume requires:

– Take an active role in researching the prospective employer.
– Can you identify the hiring manager?
– Do you know someone who works there or knows the hiring manager?
– How much can you learn about: “What business problem will be solved by hiring critical talent?” Do you know the business problem?
– Do you posses the ability to solve the business problem?
– Use a well-written, brief cover letter to address how your qualifications and capabilities make you interested and interesting. Do not write your life history. It is about solving the employer’s problem, not regurgitating your autobiography.
– Use the cover letter to make a warm connection, if possible.
– Use the cover letter to establish a time and method for you to follow-up and schedule a phone or in-person meeting.
– Use the cover letter to leverage your historical employment history as having relevancy.

 Worth Noting

– Job seeking today is an active event, no longer a passive one.
– Confident and poised candidates do well. Desperate candidates struggle.
– Interviewing is an active event. Good candidates ask good questions during an interview and are interviewing the employer as well.
– The individual hired will be a combination of: “Meeting the minimal technical requirements and also having the maximum chemistry or cultural fit”.
– If another candidate has one percent more chemistry then you, with everything else equal, you are not going to be the first choice, and there is little you can do about it. Be a professional, thank the employer for their interest in you and realize that you only need one “yes” in a sea of many “no’s”.
– The only way to overcome a hiring outcome you cannot control is to have multiple qualified opportunities working and never slow down or relax active job seeking until you have started the first day of a new job.

In summary, Best Practice Hiring is a multi-step process. Today’s business climate is challenging with employer needs that are changing.  Employers have to get it right. Candidates need to spend time understanding what the employer will accomplish through a critical hire.

Candidates should position their resume with the hiring manger in mind and use it as an entrance ticket to the overall hiring process. In a tough hiring market, candidates need to take an active role in developing multiple qualified employment opportunities.