Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Boring Resumes

I had a fascinating discussion with one of my clients last week. It helped me understand in a new way one of the pieces in the resume selection process. This particular client (he’s a “ C” level guy) had at one point used someone from The Ladder's to evaluate his resume. The feedback he got included a variety of things. The piece that caught my attention was a complaint about using the word “developed” on his resume, as in, “Developed and implemented yada yada yada”.  Apparently this particular reviewer has seen that word more than they want.  Actually, my guy reported that he had received a rant advocating the removal of this word from the English language.  What I got from this wasn't so much that the word doesn't belong on resumes, but that this reviewer had seen it a lot and it had started to bug him.

Remembering that the primary purpose of a resume is getting an interview and how very convoluted the path to that has become, it caused me to add another wrinkle.  Your resume can’t be boring.  Isn’t that just crazy?  How the heck are you supposed to do that?  How can you know that you’ve achieved it?  Of course you know that I wouldn’t be writing a blog post if I didn’t have some ideas. 
Part one is to find a variety of ways to describe your accomplishments and your behavior.  For example, if you are a writer, then you are (of course) paid to write, and the temptation to start most of your bullet points with the word “Wrote” will be substantial.  What this feedback tells us is that we need to find synonyms.  How about, “composed” or “created” or “developed” or “built”?  Each of these has a slightly different meaning than “wrote”, but each would be appropriate in its own situation.   Instead of, “Wrote help documentation for health care related web system.”  Use “Built and deployed help documentation for a health care related web system.”

Part two is building your own semi-formal “style guide” and starting with a rigid requirement to limit the use of any single word to two iterations.  This means when you find yourself using some specific word more than two times, you search out a synonym. 

Part three is recognizing that the highest percentage play in job search is networking, not internet applications.  If a friend passes your resume to a hiring influence, then that bored “screener” never sees it.  It also changes the focus of the whole hiring process from “How can we screen this person out?” to “How well can this person do the job?”


  1. If you dont care resume design, it looks bore.. Even-though you have written everything well.

    The design/format is generic or elementary for your professional level and experience.

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