Even though there is some “recovery” in the air, so many resumes still come in for a single job opening that companies have trouble finding the best candidate. Interested applicants have difficulty getting their resumes in front of someone who will invite them to an interview. Remember always that the only purpose of a resume is to generate an INTERVIEW – to “get you up to bat.” A successful resume is one that gets you through the door, to the person who is going to hire you.
Employers are obviously looking for the BEST FIT. They have a problem – a vacant position – and they need to solve it quickly. Unfortunately, they will only take just a few seconds to look at your resume, and they will quickly determine if you’re worth their time to talk to.
From my experience (and from the experience of many of my colleagues), these are the most common problems with the resume:
- CAREER OBJECTIVE SECTION: For years we have been told to put this on our resumes. We have been led to believe that this shows you to be a highly motivated and ambitious individual. This is a mistake. The decision maker feels he is wasting valuable seconds reading about your career objective and may move on to the next resume. Unfortunately, no one cares about your career objective. Nobody cares. NOBODY. Believe me – the decision maker has a problem, and he wants the answer to just one simple question: “CAN YOU HELP ME SOLVE IT?”
- EMPLOYMENT HISTORY SECTION: The recruiter or decision maker will quickly glance over the job descriptions of your previous jobs, looking for commonalities, similar skills or experience that match the job opening that you’re applying for. If your job description doesn’t clearly show that, it’s over. You’re done.
Here is a quick and easy way to correct it, improving your chances of getting a phone call:
- Replace Career Objective with QUALIFICATIONS SECTION: The recruiter or decision maker is looking for someone who closely matches the job opening, so make it easy for him/her by listing all of skills and experience at the very top of your resume. If he/she wants to read the rest of your resume, he can, but he does not have to. You told him everything he needed to know. You gave him what he was looking for. If the position requires a certain level of experience in a particular skill (example: 5 years of Exhibit sales experience), add up all of your years of Exhibit experience from every job you’ve ever had and list it in bullet points. If a college degree is required, list it here. If you think a particular skill is helpful (example: fluent in Spanish), list it here.
- Bachelor’s degree – Accounting Major
- 8 years of customer service experience
- 3 years of outside sales experience
- 10 years of MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint experience
- Fluent in Spanish and French
- 6 years of health care experience, etc.
It is most important that you tailor this Qualifications Section to fit the particular position you are applying for. Resumes are never meant to be “one size fits all.” You must show the reader quickly that you can solve his problem, that you have the particular qualifications he needs and is looking for. The Qualifications Section is designed to be brief and can be personalized and plugged into your resume easily and quickly. Try this little trick – it works.
Philip Kemper is Founder/President of KemperAssociates, a 38 year old Chicago-based national executive search firm. Contact Phil with questions or comments at kemperassociates.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.