Is Your Resume a Teaser?

If you have a 3-4 page resume, it might be working against your job hunting efforts. For some reason, job seekers think they have to put down everything they have ever done for fear someone will not call them. The truth is that your long resume is probably hurting you more than helping you. Here is why:

  1. When a job is posted there may be hundreds to thousands of resumes received by a recruiter or the human resources department. Their first objective is to eliminate who does not fit the profile to make the pile more manageable.
  2. The next step is to go through the consolidated stack to find hidden gems. Do not assume they spend more time on your resume if it is longer. It is more likely they are just skimming it faster, which means they will miss what you are trying to convey to them.
  3. By telling the recruiter or hiring manager everything about yourself on your four-page resume, they may think they know you better than they do. We all know they do not know everything. However, you have given them the illusion that they do know enough about you, increasing the likelihood of them making a decision independent of contacting you.

To increase your chances in the job hunt process consider:

  1. Be painfully specific about what you want to do – avoid being the ‘jack of all trades’.
  2. Eliminate or minimize all the other “stuff” in your resume – especially about the skills you have not used in ten years.
  3. Tell a concise story. It may knock you out of consideration from a number of job opportunities. The reality is you probably were never in the running for them. Honestly, ask yourself, did I really want that job? If you say yes, there are bigger issues with your job search.
  4. Convey specific measurable accomplishments without telling the whole story of how you did it. By teasing the resume reviewer, you create enough mystery; driving them to want to ask more questions. You are now in the “follow up” group. To tease effectively is an art.

Bottom line: The recruiter or hiring manager should be intrigued by your resume and say, “This person has done some interesting things and I want to learn more about what they did and how they did it”.

Author: Lynn Dessert

Lynn Dessert is a certified ICF and NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals to accelerate their career advancement and organizations to fast track leadership skill development. Her career eBooks What To Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding give you a roadmap to DIY. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.412.2852 today.

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  1. This is an excellent article, thank you very much for writing it! As an IT person, I’ve been told over the years to not bother trimming my resume down as the detail needs to be there. I decided a few years back to buck that advice and trim my 7 page resume down to just two. That took weeks of careful wording and tweaking, but I finally managed it. However, it’s a fairly dense two pages.

    I’m wondering, though: I use my Linked In profile as essentially a copy of my resume. Would it be a good idea to leave the “detailed” version up there and use a more concise paper version? I do put my Linked In profile link on my resume, so an employer could go there if they’re interested in following up.

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  2. Tony,

    Recruiters depend more and more on data base systems to do their searches and initial screening. I use LinkedIn, for example, to identify potential candidates; then read more about them in their profile. I only see their resume if they make it available or send it to me as a result of a job post or referral. All large companies have their own resume systems, too. So, corporate recruiters will search these to find candidates just as they search Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, etc. So, the first rule is to be sure to include key words on your resume that you want to be identified with. IT and other technical positions are very acronym oriented, so this is easy to do if you are aware of it. Many resumes have a section of “Skills” where these are appropriate.

    In terms of length….everyone has their own take on this. As a recruiter the first thing I read is the most recent position responsibilities. This is always one paragraph. If that fits I read on.

    Also, as a recruiter, I knock candidates out if I find other information that I do not like in other areas of the resume (too frequent job changes, inadequate education, etc). Easier to do this than a few email exchanges with several candidates. So, the shorter resume can actually work for you in order to make initial contact. A detailed one later may be useful, especially after you learn what the job involves when you can create a detailed resume or addendum specifically for that position.

    I hope this helps!

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  3. I have been working as an executive level recruiter for almost 6 years. Prior to that my background is in B2B Advertising and Marketing. Recently I have started to help people with their resumes.

    I feel very strongly that a resume is a marketing document whose sole purpose is to generate enough interest to invite the candidate in for the interview. I look at a resume as a billboard or even a print ad. I think it should be short, concise and to the point. First and foremost, I think benefits to the ‘buyer’ need to be emphasized.

    Especially in this market, HR and hiring authorities are not taking the time to read even all of a two page resume. If your resume is longer or is densely packed (Think textbook or legal brief) it is almost guaranteed NOT to be read. Most people are not willing to work that hard. Sorry, but it’s true.

    Hitting hard on the top of the first page with all the information that differentiates you from the pack and speaks directly to how you can solve ‘their’ problems, is the fastest route to an invitation to an interview. This is why it is so critical to customize resumes to particular opportunities. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation.

    For candidates who have an extensive resume, I suggest addendums to the resume. You can add a Project List, a Products List, a Patents List, an Educational Achievements List, a Publications List… You get the idea.

    Yes, the length may be the same, but it will not be perceived in that way. It’s a similar concept to why Wal-Mart sells items for $9.97 instead of $10. It just doesn’t sound as expensive. A two page resume with a couple of pages of addendums are just not as off putting as a four page resume. Readers can always chose to flesh out the areas that they are interested in without feeling an obligation to read the entire document.

    Remember too, that many times your resume will be read by an HR Generalist who really has no clue about the detailed specific achievements that you have so painstakingly described. HR is really looking for a way to rule you out NOT in. Excessive detail on highly technical information is usually a good reason to do that. Save the detail for the hiring authority that will understand and appreciate it.

    Another point worth noting is the use of bold face type. Use it sparingly to call attention to the quantifiable statements of achievement that will catch the attention of the reader.

    It is very difficult for anyone to judiciously edit their own resume. I suggest using another set of eyes, a professional or even a trusted colleague or mentor.

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  4. Tony,
    I work the $100K level and up and to be honest, if someone has over 10 years of experience, it may take 3 pages, especially for education, certifications, etc. You are in IT which is not my expertise, but to keep my response geared toward the masses. I use key word searches and if I have a client that needs IT upgrading from a system installed in the 80’s with many issues, I may conduct a search for an AS 400 implementation in materials/supply chain management. In H/R it could be a prehistoric HRIS system as H/R is an area where corporations provide the least monies in system upgrades should they not be fully integrated. So, yes, two pages may work for some industries and income levels under $100K, but my advice is when you are in a job search, small companies want the biggest bang for their buck with someone who can wear many hats and be a “jack of all trades”. Larger companies are more focused, but today they are also looking for more of a multi-tasker.

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