Writing the Winning Resume
Posted Monday, March 15th, 2021

By Bert Sadtler

There are an endless number of opinions about resumes.

Some say that a resume should be limited to 1 page.

Some say to keep as many dates out of your resume as possible in order to hide your age.

Some say to insert a high saturation of key match words.

Remember, the purpose of the resume is to get in front of the Hiring Manager for a discussion. No one gets hired from just a resume.

The first question to ask a so called “resume expert” is when was the last time the expert was directly involved in hiring? The front-line of hiring is where reality exists. A lot of folks may try to position themselves as a resume expert. However, there is a much smaller number who spend their days on the front line of hiring.

As a seasoned professional entrenched on the front line of hiring, the following are my comments from the three scenarios listed above:

– There is no established page limit to a good resume. If you are a professional with a robust work history, then you need to make it known.

– Keeping dates out of your resume could hurt you as much as help you. Your potential employer is smart enough to calculate your approximate age fairly easily. It is possible they are looking for someone with years of experience. In any case, if you are older, you are not going to suddenly become 20 years younger overnight. Embrace your level of experience for what it is. If you are younger, then embrace the upside of developing a career track. My point is to be who you are.

– Hiring Managers who rely heavily on the use of key match words are taking a lazy hiring approach of looking for shortcuts. Shortcuts are a red flag for a broken hiring model and something a job seeker should avoid. Clever job seekers can front load their resume with tons of key match words. That does not qualify them as being great candidates. The Hiring Manager needs to first define the challenge or problem they need solved and then invest time in a process that will acquire the right talent to solve the defined challenge or problem.

What to Include in Your Resume

Consider that if your resume is viewed via a computer screen, only the top 1/3 may be in view on a small screen. Therefore, any fluff makes it hard for the hiring manager.

– Try to create one resume. It is a depiction of your work history. If you attempt to write a resume for each job you are seeking, you will be spending too much time on resume re-writes and not enough on the actual job search.

– Make your resume the constant and use your cover letter to be personalized and responsive to jobs you are applying for.

– Develop a document that contains only empirical data in chronological order about professional accomplishments & education.

– Avoid the fluffy adjectives that can’t be measured such as successful, accomplished and joyful. Empirical wording establishes candidate credibility. It says that all listed items are factual, nothing is subjective. It sets an important tone.

– Write your accomplishments in the format: “CHALLENGE-ACTION-RESULTS”. (What challenge/problem did you face, what actions did you take to address the challenge and finally and most importantly, what were the results of those efforts.)

– 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.

Tips to Execute Your Job Search

– Take an active role in researching the prospective employer.

– Be very wary of “agents” who get you a job for a fee. They prey on desperate people. It is a scam.

– Do you have any contacts who work for the prospective employer or know the hiring manager? If so, do whatever you can to learn more about the role and learn more about the hiring manager.

–  Identify the hiring manager. This is the “Department of Yes”. Do whatever possible to communicate directly with the Department of Yes. This is where the hiring decision is made. It is NOT made by a headhunter and it is not made by HR.

Focus Your Job Search and Interviewing on These Three Things:

#1) Do you understand the problem/challenge that you would solve by being hired?

Do not move to #2 until you can answer #1. This could mean that you conduct some research or ask questions in order to understand the problem/challenge.

#2) Ask yourself if you possess the qualifications, experience, skill to accomplish #1. If you do not, then you may be better off moving on to another hiring opportunity.

Do not move to #3 until you can answer yes to #2.

#3) Assuming that at this point you have had some interaction with the hiring manager, ask yourself if this is someone you could see yourself working with. Cultural fit is a huge part of successful hiring. You can expect to spend a lot of time with your hiring manager. At a minimum, you should be comfortable with them.

Worth Noting

– Job seeking today is an active and interactive event, not a passive one. Don’t be foolish enough to think the world will beat a path to your door. There are some bad “agents” out there along with some very broken hiring models. Avoiding the bad options is just as important as spending time on the good options.

– Confident and poised candidates do well. Desperate candidates struggle and are vulnerable to bad hiring practices.

– 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 than 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 having multiple qualified opportunities working and never slow down or relax active job seeking until you have started the first day of a new job.


Best Practice Hiring is a multi-step process. Many hiring models are broken. Today’s business climate is challenging with employer needs that are constantly shifting.  Employers have to get it right. Candidates need to spend time understanding what the employer will accomplish through successfully engaging a critical hire.

Candidates should position their cover letter and resume with the Department of Yes in mind and use them as an entrance ticket to the overall hiring process. Candidates need to take an active role in developing multiple qualified employment opportunities.