Resume Writing Tips

Confessions of an Executive Recruiter


By: Chuck Klein


If you are job hunting, I know you have invested a major effort on your resume. Unfortunately, some of the people giving you advice have not been on the side of the table with the recruiters and hiring managers.

As a search professional and career consultant, I have written hundreds and read thousands of resumes. So here is my 2 cents on resumes:

1.  Be specific. If you try and make your resume too general to have wide appeal, it may not generate interest. If I am seeking a sales manager for an enterprise software company, I looking for relevant experience.If you fail to list the products you sold and the markets you served, I might delete you even if you were really qualified.

2. List accomplishments not just responsibilities -  Show me how you helped your company make money, save money or do something better. 

3. Avoid Blah-Blah - I am looking for facts and not flowery writing. Write your resume so I can quickly understand what you have done in your career. If you make me dig, I may get tired and just hit delete.

4.  If it’s too pretty, I think you are hiding something - Resumes should be well written and appear professional. But when the resume is too fancy, I get suspicious. We have received resumes that are formatted like brochures and others that are set up like web sites.  Funny thing is, these are rarely the strong candidates. My greatest placement ever – a sales executive in the pharmaceutical supply industry who has been a top performer had the simplest resume I ever saw.

5.  Get to the Point - Many resumes we receive have extensive lists of skills and capabilities at the beginning, before actually showing job experience. I almost always skip this entire section the first time I look at a resume.  I am looking for the tangible experience information and I want to see it as quickly as possible.

6. Use numbers - If you managed $20 million in sales, oversaw a $10 million advertising budget or oversaw the financial management of a $200 million company, then tell me. If you managed a department of 3 people or a division of 3000 people, then tell me. The numbers help us understand what you have done.

7. Length at jobs If you worked at General Dynamics for 10 years in 3 different jobs, always show the entire period of employment first and then the dates for each job. As a recruiter, I scan resumes. Usually, a fairly long term stint at one company works in your favor. Be sure I see that easily and quickly without having to figure it out.

8. Send the right resume - I know you have many resumes and as an employment consultant, I encourage this.  If I am looking for a sales manager, don’t send me your resume for elevator operator.

9.  Don’t lie -  There is nothing worse than an outright lie on a resume. If we catch it at any stage, you are out.

10.  And finally, stay positive -  I know you are job hunting and that it isn’t easy or pleasant. If we reject you, we are simply saying that in our judgment, you aren’t a fit for this particular job. Please don’t take it personally!

Job hunting requires strong marketing and sales skills. Keep pushing and you will succeed. And if you need help with your resume or interviewing skills, give us a call.

The bottom line: Your resume has one goal and that is to get you an interview. If that happened, it worked. You then need to be prepared to sell your self in the interview which is the topic of another article.

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