Résumés – Are You Lost?

Wikipedia DefinitionA résumé is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education. The résumé or CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment.

A Curriculum Vitae (loosely translated as course of life) provides an overview of a person’s life and qualifications. It differs from a résumé in that it is appropriate for academic or medical careers and is far more comprehensive. A CV elaborates on education to a greater degree than a résumé. A résumé is tailor-made according to the post applied for. It is job-oriented and goal specific. One of the key characteristics of a proper résumé is conciseness. 

(Definitions pulled from Wikipedia)

Those of you that read my blog know that I have been out of work since September 2008. During this time I have met with or consulted with a variety of professionals: large scale recruiters, boutique recruiters, career coaches, life coaches, outplacement counselors, professional résumé writers, human resource professionals, etc. It is interesting to hear each professional’s take on what the resume format should be.

Here is a short list items that have been said to me – in no particular order:

  1. Keep your resume to 1 page
  2. Keep your resume to 2 pages
  3. Senior executives should summarize on their resume
  4. Use details to convey your accomplishments
  5. Use bullets points
  6. Don’t use bullet points
  7. Use dates sparingly
  8. Use dates where you can
  9. Have a summary statement that is eye catching
  10. Don’t use a summary statement it is out dated
  11. Use tag words to pop up on searches
  12. Don’t use too many buzz words
  13. Quantify and qualify your work experience and its impact to business
  14. Use hard numbers
  15. Don’t use specific numbers
  16. Use more business jargon
  17. Your experiences should be painted in broad strokes
  18. Be creative
  19. Take chances
  20. Resumes should convey “Shock and Awe” (This is my favorite)

See what I mean? It is confusing. I have revamped (totally overhauled) my resume several times based on the advice I was given. Honestly, while I have been around for sometime and have years of experience under my belt there are only so many ways to say something.

With millions of Americans out of work and the only thing to represent you is an 8-1/2 x 11 piece of papyrus, what should the resume format and message be? If the professionals cannot come to a consensus, how is the average Joe/Jane suppose to know?

Is the resume out-dated in these times?

8 thoughts on “Résumés – Are You Lost?

  1. Arun – as you might know, I am a career transition coach, and our firm works on literally thousands of resumes each week. You’ve exactly what my clients receive when they start asking people about resumes. So – don’t worry about being confused. It goes with the turf. Here’s how I coach my clients about seeking resume advice.

    Does the advice help tell your story? For instance, does the advice relate to something significant in your background or qualifications that might help market you for the sort of role you seek? If the answer is “yes”, then I suggest following the advice. If the advice is more about format or the style of the resume, I suggest polite listening, and then take only the advice that make intuitive sense to YOU.

    It’s your resume, so you need to own it. After all, you’re the person who has to deliver the goods in an interview or networking meeting.

    So – my advice (and take only what you want!) is to:

    1. Tell your story. Make sure the resume makes the statement you want to make about your qualifications for the targeted opportunity.
    2. Make sure your resume shows how and what sort of value you can add in your next role.
    3. Use the stories you’d most want to tell during an interview as guides for accomplishments.

    I don’t care about pages, bullets, etc. Neither should you – truthfully. But you should care about how your resume sells your “brand” in the market. If you like the message, don’t change a thing.

    Good luck!

  2. Good, but sometimes confusing resume advice. 🙂 Check out Resume Remodel to put it in better perspective. More importantly, post your resume and get good community feedback on how to improve it. It’s free.!

  3. Hi Arun,

    I’d been through the ’91 recession, job transition in ’97 into the dot-coms from outside the industry, then survived the dot-coms in early 2000s, then moved to Asia and went through the whole process of re-inventing myself again to Asian audiences….

    The lesson(s) is that “our story” is complicated and so we’ll need to have different versions of it. I frequently had 2-3 resumes depending on the audience and my target role. For headhunters, it’s about the “key words” – because that’s how the HR system works. For personal networking with potential hiring managers, it was more about the experience and the story should fit more to how they would like to know/read about your story. Sometimes, I had to ‘dumb down’ my resume as well – just to get in the door.

    For me there is no magical formula at the end of the day – but sheer ‘selling’ (i.e. networking) and time that carried the day. In this environment, who really knows?

    Hope is helpful and good luck!

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