Posts tagged: Resume Techniques

Cover Letter + Great Resume = Interview

This is the winning formula for getting interviews. There are exceptions for personal referrals and networking contacts, but often even with these they will first ask for a resume.

It has been my experience recently that many candidates “know” this formula intellectually but few convert from the knowing to “doing.” And that after all is the key.

I’m currently conducting a search and as one might expect the number of resumes received is almost overwhelming. I spend my weekends and nights just trying to empty my inbox.  Not an easy task. About 65% of the resumes I receive have cover letters. Most to some varying degree give me the standard, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Once in a while one will stand out so I take the time to read it. I particularly like the two column format as it quickly aligns their experiences with what I’m seeking for my client. (If you want to get an example, a free sample is available, just CLICK HERE).

These types of cover letters can get me very excited to actually read (not scan) your resume. The problem is too often the rug is pulled right out from under my high level of excitement.  Simply put the resume sucks. There are many reasons for this, but regardless, this person had me and other recruiters,  hiring managers and HR professionals right where they want them. They overcame one of the biggest issues with resumes, getting the resume read not just a 10 second scan. Only to disappoint the reader. What a tragedy.

In this example the formula was: great cover letter + average or below average resume = trashed resume.

Anyone who has been following Barry and I know we have written extensively that in this economy it is greatness that counts. Good only works in good times. Greatness works all the time, but is positively, absolutely, a  must in bad times.

A great cover letter with an average or below average resume, is like a bad book with a great dust cover. It is still a bad book.  How many times have you sat in a movie theater watching an upcoming movie trailer, then gone to the movie and it was really bad? Remember the excitement about waiting for the movie to come out, the excitement as you sat waiting for the movie to start, and then the disappointment when the movie was so bad you walked out.  A great movie trailer doesn’t make a bad movie better.

A great resume starts with understanding how a resume is scanned. Start with the basics:

  1. Your contact information including a phone number. Sounds pretty basic to me. For some reason many candidates are starting to have only an email address on the resume.
  2. Basic information about the companies you worked for (unless they are household names), such as sales, number of employees, and what the company does or the industry.
  3. Basic information regarding the scope of your positions. Number of people supervised, basic duties and responsibilities, if multi-location, international, functional area managed, etc.
  4. Education. When appropriate additional certifications or courses that enhance your marketability.
  5. Company ownership. Is it a public company, owner operated, private equity owned or something else?
  6. Some bullet points that directly align as closely as possible to the two column cover letter you included.
  7. Bullet points that include results in dollars or percentages as to the impact on the department or company.

These are basics. There are more that will get your resume from good to great. At least review your resume to verify you have met the minimum.

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Download a free sample cover letter – that is the first step. You still need a great resume. CLICK HERE to get the FREE cover letter.

Resume Do’s and Don’ts

Every person that has put together a resume knows the basics, no spelling errors, limit to two pages, chronological format, use keywords and so on, but there are other basic issues that candidates do and don’t do that  have a big impact on getting their resume noticed. By getting noticed I mean read and ultimately you get a phone call or email.

Lets all agree there is only one reason for a resume, and that is to get an interview. That is it — PERIOD. A resume isn’t to get you a job, it isn’t a networking tool, it isn’t a bio and most important of all a resume  isn’t ABOUT YOU.

A resume is about the person reading the resume. If the only purpose is to get you an interview, then the resume better stand out so they take the time to read the resume. Standing out doesn’t mean gimmicks, highlighting or other tricks that only make you look desperate. Standing out means they see what they are looking for and want to read on and ultimately engage  you.

I believe candidates need to realize how people review resumes or take a step back, be very objective, and think about how they reviewed resumes when they had a stack of 100+ resumes sitting on their desk.

I know for me it starts with the 10 second review.  I’m looking for a few box checking items or points and if they are missing, or aren’t a fit, I move on. For example:

  • If my client isn’t going to relocate, and you are from out of the area, you are gone.
  • If I’m searching for a VP of X and you are a VP of Y you are gone.
  • If for whatever reason you have to have experience in a specific industry and you don’t, or haven’t at least worked in an industry that is a close fit, you are gone.
  • If my client is a small entrepreneurial company and you have only worked in very large companies you go into the “B” pile.
  • If you have had 8 jobs in the last 8 years chances are you are either gone or in the “B” pile.
  • If the scope of your positions don’t align with my client’s you are gone. For example,  if I’m searching for an International X and all your resume discusses is domestic, I think you know what is going to happen.

A recruiter, HR person or hiring manager can determine these in 10 seconds or less. Once all of these fundamentals are box checked then I’m going to take the time to read the resume in more detail. It is here that the rubber meets the road. This is where the resume needs to be about my client, NOT YOU. It is here that I’m making the decision of whether to pick up the phone and call you or not.

So it is critical under the “do” column of “Resume Do’s and Don’ts,” that you meet these basic screening issues or at least in one fashion or another address them.  For example, if you are open to relocation and willing to pay your own relocation expenses that should be in the cover letter. This could help level the playing field with local candidates,  if other points on your resume are compelling. You may go to the “A” or  “B” pile instead of being eliminated.

Under the “don’t” column of  “Resume Do’s  and Don’ts,” you need to make sure that when the person gets to the reading stage of your resume that you don’t discuss  irrelevant issues or accomplishments. This is the time to stand out, differentiate yourself and hit a home run.

The biggest “don’t” is don’t try to get by with a one-size-fits-all resume. These resumes are so generic it is impossible to know exactly what the candidate actually did. The bullet points don’t include results and are so vague the reader could change the name at the top and the resume would be like all the rest.

Don’t regurgitate the duties, tasks and responsibilities of the job in bullet point format.  Most companies will not consider you a great hire if all you do are the very basic duties of the job. Your bullet points should demonstrate the exceptional work you have performed. The resume bullet points should sing out loud and clear, “Here are the benefits to you if you hire me.”

Change  your perspective on the resume. Stop thinking of it as a resume about you. Start thinking of it as a marketing document or advertisement. These are generally about the targeted audience and designed to get their attention.

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To help  you build a great resume, we have a put together our “Complete Resume Writing System.” Everything  you need to make sure  your resume is compelling and about the reader is included. Candidates spend hundreds of dollars on resume writing  services when they don’t have to. Our Complete Resume Writing System is available for just $39.95. CLICK HERE to at least see if it can help you. It will save you hundreds.



Resume Do’s and Don’ts – Radio Show

Knowing how your resume is screened will help you understand why you do or don’t hear back from recruiters, HR or hiring managers. These are not the basic do’s and don’ts such as spelling, grammar, or formatting.  You already know those things. We are discussing the practical application of the most common mistakes candidates make that result in their resume getting screened out. Most of these mistakes are so easy to fix, so common sense and so obvious one wouldn’t think it would take a whole show to discuss. We give you insight into what our clients tell us, their actual screening methodology and what you can do to get past the 10 seconds resume screening 90% of the time.

Join our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group along with 3100 other LinkedIn members. To join CLICK HERE.

You can download for FREE a Job Search Self-Assessment Scorecard. This will help evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in your job search so you can identify what  you need to tweak. This will help you conduct the most effective job search possible. CLICK HERE to get your free assessment.

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How NOT to Differentiate Yourself From Everyone Else

As candidates become more and more desperate in their job search they often turn to desperate measures that more often than not hurt the candidate. One example of this is with the resume.

Lately we have been noticing an increase in resumes that contain some sort of gimmick or strange presentation to get noticed. This is not necessary. If your resume is focused, well presented, and easy to read, it will get noticed – at least by us.

If your resume has a lot of highlighting, gimmicks, smells like perfume, or is on bright colored paper, all that is saying to the reader is, “I’m desperate.” Companies today don’t want to hire desperate people. They still want to hire the best and the brightest.

The best ways to get  your resume noticed and read is:

  • Have a good cover letter. Download a free sample from our Web site. CLICK HERE.
  • Have an easy to read resume. Use bullet points instead of long paragraphs, make sure it is not over crowded, has white space, 12 point fonts, two pages,  and does not have a lot of abbreviations, functional or industry jargon.
  • Make sure vital information used for screening stands out such as,company description and industry, title, dates, organization, number of people managed, scope of responsibility, etc.
  • Pleasing to the eye.
  • Well organized and laid out.
  • Highly recommend chronicle not functional.
  • It should be as targeted to the position as possible and that bullet points address what the hiring manager is looking for. NOT a generic one size fits all.

There are probably more and feel free to comment and add  your ideas. Just don’t try and stand out by using desperate gimmicks and tricks.

Join our Linkedin Job Search Networking Group along with the other 3000 members. The group contains extensive articles and discussions on conducting a job search. CLICK HERE to join it FREE.

Please download our free sample cover letter to make sure your background aligns with the job needs and stands out. CLICK HERE to get your copy.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Don’t Underestimate the Power the Four “A’s” Have On Your Interview

In a previous article, “Leveraging the Power of the First Impression Helps You Win the Interview” we discussed just how critical (not important, critical) the first impression is to the interviewing process. One of the suggestions was to understand the most important points known as the four “A’s.”

These four “A’s” can dramatically impact the interview before the interview even starts. That is powerful.

Each of these must be integrated into your interviewing style and come off as if they come naturally to you.

  • Appearance – This is not just how you dress for the interview, it is much more than that. It includes your body language during the interview, how you sit in the chair, the appearance of your resume and cover letter, the appearance of any materials used during the interview, eye contact, and I hate to say it, but it does include physical appearance.
  • Assertive – This is mostly about how you project yourself during the interview. Please take note, the word was not “aggressive.” There is a big difference between aggressive and assertive. Most interviewers respect an assertive person and dislike aggressive people. Do you come across as confident, do you answer the question with a strong voice, do you engage the interviewer during the interview, do you ask probing questions or just sit there and answer questions, do you mirror the interviewer, does your body language and voice have a strong presence?
  • Affable – Are you friendly, outgoing, easy to communicate with, engaging and even have a sense of humor? Does the interviewer feel comfortable talking with you, are they relaxed and feel at ease, do you have some conversational questions to bring up on the way from the lobby to the interviewing room, do you engage in casual conversation and are you building rapport with the person the second they lay eyes on you?
  • Articulate – How well do you communicate? Do you listen to the question? Are your answers sharp and succinct? Do you have proper language skills, syntax, avoid using the word “like”, proper sentence structure and use of verbs? Do you ramble in the interview to make sure you hit every point in your background or are you able to quickly get to the point? This can be one of the easiest of the “A’s” to master. It takes practice and rehearsing, and you will probably need a coach to help you with this one.

On the surface, as you read these, they seem so obvious. Most are thinking, “I already know this stuff.” This may be true, but I think the purpose of the four “A’s” is to highlight in a very simple way some of the key issues many candidates take for granted. As a result they don’t work on mastering them.

There are a lot of dynamics happening at the same time during the hiring process. The more you can master, the better your chances of getting the green light.

Join our Job Search Networking Linkedin Group. There are over 2700 members and an extensive supply of resources for you to tap into. CLICK HERE to join. Membership is FREE.

We have numerous free downloads on our Web site to help you in your search. Sample cover letters, audio downloads from past radio shows,a transferable skills list, Linkedin Profile Assessment Matrix, and our Job Search Self-Assessment Scorecard. All can be downloaded from our home page.

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I’m Perfect For The Position, So Why Did I Get Screened Out?

Great question. Probably an obvious answer.

The easy answer is, you probably aren’t perfect for the job, at least from the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s perspective. Now that doesn’t mean you aren’t perfect. It may mean you didn’t communicate effectively as to demonstrate just how perfect you are. So you get screened out.

It has been my experience in close to 30 years as a recruiter that candidates too often ignore the competition that also claim to be perfect for the job. As a recruiter in today’s economy, we can get 500+ responses to an executive level position, all claiming to be, “perfect.” With this volume of resumes, emails, phone calls and referrals, you have to demonstrate you are more perfect than all of the rest.

The real question is, “Have you demonstrated you are more perfect than all the others?” I realize candidates generally have limited information about the position, so demonstrating this can be difficult. It isn’t possible to give every screening detail. Anyone who has hired people knows this. Most hiring managers experience the same thing. When you are looking to hire some one you too get resume overload. So how do you prioritize all these resumes, calls, emails, and referrals? Most have set up some sort of checklist to reduce the number to a manageable figure. Some things on the checklist include, industry, company size, compatibility with products, systems, organization, title, turnover, etc. This is important information that is missing from many resumes. The result is you may get screen out or put in the infamous “B” pile.

The next step might be to further read the resumes that passed the checklist to reduce the number even further. It is at this stage that you must really demonstrate that you are perfect for the position. From a recruiter’s perspective this is the point where I want to see how your accomplishments align with what the client is looking for in the person they hire to deliver the results. This is the, “So why did I get screened out?” point.

Here are some suggestions that might help you to not get screened out if you really are perfect:

  1. Customize your resume as much as possible to directly align with the job. Don’t send the one-size fits all resume.
  2. Your bullet points must include quantifiable results, time frame to accomplish, and be believable.
  3. If you don’t know the exact expectations, some research on the company might give you some tips. If your research highlights issues, try to extrapolate how your functional area will participate in these issues and then how your accomplishments align.
  4. Don’t limit your research to the company’s Web site. Look for press releases, announcements, industry trends, local newspapers, business journals, industry periodicals, and Google the company and its competitors. It will take some work, however, the pay off is not getting screened out.
  5. Use a two column cover letter that compares your experience and accomplishments with what their needs are. (You can download a free sample cover letter on our Web site. (CLICK HERE to get yours)
  6. Keep your resume to two pages. Don’t have so much detail that the important points get lost.
  7. Make sure you have the basic screening information on your resume. Step back and be objective as to exactly how you screen resumes when you were a hiring manager with a stack of 300 resumes on your desk.

There are a lot of reasons you can get screened out, even if you are perfect. I’m convinced doing these few things will at least increase the odds in your favor. I’m sure they will increase the odds if you really are perfect for the position.

Join our Linkedin Job Search Networking Group for many more tips on helping you in your job search. CLICK HERE to join – it is free.

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Traditional Resumes Are Worthless – Video

This short video highlights why most traditional resumes are never noticed. Is your resume about you? About your skills, experiences, and companies you have worked for? If they are then this is probably why your resume is going in the “B” pile.

To get your resume in the “A” pile it can’t be traditional. Standard resumes that worked as little as two years ago will not even get noticed today.

This video will even give you an example of how to change your resume so it isn’t “traditional” and isn’t about you.

Click this link to watch, “Traditional Resumes Are Worthless.” Your resume doesn’t have to be traditional.

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Do You Have A Resume Or A Marketing Document?

Does your resume list all of your experiences, all your skills, and even some accomplishments?

Does it outline all of the things you have done in the past that you think are important and can fit on two pages?

Does it clearly indicate all your past duties, tasks and responsibilities for your positions?

All good stuff, but for the most part, missing a lot of the important stuff.

Most resumes are based on, what in selling is referred to as, “features” or “facts.” Every junior sales rep and marketing person knows that people don’t buy on features, they buy on benefits.

Most resumes are simply a list of features the candidate thinks (key word – thinks) are important. In marketing terms it is a, “fact sheet” not a marketing document. If you want to get noticed you have to have a marketing document not a resume. One that markets benefits.

Marketing 101 teaches marketing is all about getting to the customer’s motivation. It is all about what’s in it for them. Few resumes are a true marketing document. Most are some combination of features and benefits, with heavy weighting on features. Few hiring managers will get excited reading a list of features. These are nice to know, but unfortunately, don’t create any emotional reaction. Benefits, on the other hand, do create an emotional reaction. It is this reaction that creates the desire to buy.

For example, you could have the following feature on your resume, “Substantially reduced turnover in first year.” A good fact but no emotional reaction. Instead you could market the benefit to the hiring manager, “Reduced turnover from over 55% to less than 10% in my first year. This resulted in an estimated savings of $150,000 in just hiring costs. It also dramatically increased the quality of work, completely eliminated errors and reduced overtime by 90% resulting in a cost savings from the previous year of $200,000.”

If I am an owner, CEO, or hiring manager struggling with the high cost of turnover, this is motivating and a benefit.

Selling benefits converts your resume into a marketing document. After all, that is what a resume should be.

Join our Linkedin Job Search Networking Group for a lot more on resumes, interviewing, networking and even how to answer the “Tell Me About Yourself?” question.

Is your cover letter stopping  your resume from getting noticed. Try this cover letter. It has increased the responses three fold for many people. Recruiters prefer this. Download it for FREE CLICK HERE.

If  your LinkedIn Profile isn’t powerful and compelling then use our 8 Point Check List to help you build a powerful and compelling profile. CLICK HERE to download.


We encourage your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

Traditional Resumes Are Worthless

In almost 30 years as an executive recruiter, I have looked at at over 100,000 resumes and through our candidate university coached/instructed hundreds of candidates with their job search. One consistent theme in all of this is that candidates receive a lot of mixed messages on resumes. Too often candidates lose sight of the real purpose for this document or overemphasis its importance.

In a previous article,”Resumes Have Only One Purpose,” I wrote the only reason for a resume is to get an interview. That is all it is good for. It isn’t to get a job. Candidates forget this. As a result, they want to include a lot of unimportant and sometimes irrelevant information on the resume. You only need enough information on the resume to get an interview. Everything else is over kill.

This is why, “Traditional resumes are worthless.”

With all this extra information the important and relevant information is lost in the clutter. Most people only spend between 10 and 20 seconds on the first screen. If your resume doesn’t catch their eye in that time it is discarded.

We believe for this reason the important and relevant points have to stand out so they don’t get overlooked. There can’t be a lot of useless information cluttering up the resume.

The fact is every resume is simply a marketing document. Its purpose is to catch the reader’s attention, get to the reader’s underlying motivation, have them read it and invite you in for an interview. Sounds similar to any advertisement or marketing brochure.

Marketing whether in print or electronically doesn’t try and attract everyone with one advertisement. Companies well know as “marketing” companies, Nike, Coke, McDonalds, Apple have multiple ads each with a specific purpose to reach a specific customer. They are very targeted with the listener’s or reader’s motivations in mind. They rarely if ever assume one-size-fits-all.

Candidates resumes on the other hand often assume a one-size-fits-all. Most candidates put together a generic resume, all about them, with what they think is important and relevant, then cross their fingers and hope it gets to the reader’s underlying motivations. It rarely if ever does.

Change your paradigm about your resume. Begin thinking of it as a marketing document. Ask yourself, “Is this relevant to the specific needs of this hiring manager or company?” Have you targeted the reader’s motivation rather than yours? Do the bullet points hit the target like a bullet or more like a shotgun? Do the important and relevant points stand out? (Without highlighting or gimmicks). Are you helping them with their pain? Do the bullet points help them solve their problems? Is your resume about you or them?

For all those wondering, yes this means you may have more than one marketing document (resume). Just like companies do. There is no law that says you can’t. There is only one rule regarding resumes, everything on it must be completely honest and verifiable. That is it.

In summary, target your resume. Make it a marketing document instead of a resume. Get away from the generic traditional one-size-fits-all. Build a marketing document with the reader’s motivation in mind.

For help with your resume we offer a complete resume development system. The CDs, templates and examples will ensure you have a marketing document. To review our “Complete Resume System” CLICK HERE. Many charge as much as $500 for the generic one. Our complete system is less than 10% of that.

You can also download for FREE on our website our, “Job Search Self Assessment Scorecard.” Take the assessment and see how effective your search is and what you can do to improve in the areas you aren’t excelling.

Job Search Plan Self-Assessment Scorecard – NOW Available – FREE

Effective Job Search - Are you ready to take time off in the race to finish your job search?

Are you ready to start conducting an EFFECTIVE JOB SEARCH?

Are you ready to take time off in the race to finish your job search?

As promised, Brad I committed to release our long-awaited, deeply researched, field-tested, and validated FREE Job Search Plan Self-Assessment Scorecard.

You can download the Job Search Plan Self-Assessment Scorecard and tool by joining our LinkedIn Job Search Discussion Group. We apologize about this two step process. However, Brad I have made the commitment to our job search community to release all new scorecards, self-assessment tools, templates, and other FREE Job Search Resources into our LinkedIn Job Search Discussion Group first.

We’ve worked very hard over the last few months to put together a FREE simple scorecard and tool that can make a dramatic difference in your job search.

If you take this self-assessment and work very hard to improve your scores from “0” or “1” into the “2” and “3” levels, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the time it takes to complete an effective job search.

Not only will this scorecard help you in overcoming the Top Ten Job Search Mistakes, but it will also help you in your job search by reducing the time it takes to find a great opportunity.

Here’s a great example: If you’re an executive and the average time in this poor job market is 9-12 months to find a new executive level position, this Job Search Plan Self-Assessment Scorecard will help you cut in half the time it should take to find a new job. Imagine saving $30,000-$60,000 in reducing your job hunting time by conducting a more effective job search.

Join Brad and I on our Weekly Internet Radio Talk Show this coming Monday – August 31st – 11-noon PST on LATalkRadio. We’ll be talking about how to overcome the Top Ten Job Search Mistakes and Errors by using our new FREE Job Search Plan Self-Assessment Scorecard.


P.S.: We look forward to your comments, ideas, and thoughts in our LinkedIn Job Search Discussion Group. How might we improve this scorecard in a future revision? What insights about your job search effectiveness did you gain after spending a few minutes taking the assessment? After you take the assessment, what’s your specific plan to improve your job search?