7 Insights To Help You Relate To The Readers Of Your Resume

looking over a stack of paper

I am a very curious person.  As a child one of my favorite words was “why?” My father had a tremendous amount of patience as he would explain things to me.  If we were building something it was never a matter of ‘do x then y’.  I had to know why we did x then y, what happens if we did z first.  I want to know the causes, effects and possibilities.

My father taught me if you understand why you are doing something you can do it better. Apparently, I really took this to heart, apologies to all who know me.

I also incorporate this in my teaching style.  I like to explain the whys of what I do so my audience better understands and can adapt their actions for greater personal success.  I also incorporate it in my articles.  When writing about writing resumes I try to explain why you want to use value-driven demonstrative bullet points rather than duty statements and other points.

For your resume there is another why that is an important factor: how the person reading it reads it. How they approach it and read it is another why on how you write your resume.

So just for a few minutes, let’s take you out of your resume process and think about the people who are on the other side of that black-hole void of submission.

Caveat: to recruiters and human resource professionals, please know I mean no disrespect in the following.  I am simply explaining in a manner which I believe would be most understood by the greatest amount of people.  I am going to use examples and thoughts that I believe most people can identify with.  I really am on your side, even if I do not sound like it.  I do not envy your job.

It is not an exaggeration to say that one open position can generate easily 300+ resumes submitted.  Think about that – how would you like to review over 300 of pretty much the same thing for one position?  How about if you were trying to fill more than one position?

They do not have a lot of time and that is going to impact how they do a cursory review. This is why it is important to write towards how they are going to read and understand your resume.

1. Scanning like a ninja

With so many resumes to review, they have to adapt a system that allows them to quickly surmise if you fit the first cut.  I correlate this to a teenager’s mentality.  I had a house full of teenagers as my son was growing up so this I am very familiar with – and survived. This mindset looks something like this:

  1. If it looks hard to read, I don’t want to read it so I will not give it a lot of attention
  2. Just tell me what you want me to know, don’t make me work for it
  3. If you leave out information, I will fill it in in a snarky way
  4. If you don’t tell me I am not going to ask
  5. I will take it as it is written – not assume more
  6. I will only believe half of what you say

Do you blame them?  That is a lot of reading they have to do – on top of the rest of their job.  As far as the teenage mentality – think about if you have/had a teenager and you tell them to clean their room.  In my house what I said and what the interpreted request was were two different things.  I had to spell it out, in detail and assume nothing.  Do not leave anything to chance.

2. What do you want?

Some companies post multiple positions simultaneously.  It is not the recruiter or HR person’s job to determine which job you want or what is best for you.  You should know this and convey it so they can start evaluating you for that role immediately.

If you do not tell them, they are not going to take the time to help you figure out your career path.  Next resume.

3. Did you read the qualifications or even know what we do?

Listing the position that you are applying for as a title to your resume is not enough to convey an exact match.  You have to demonstrate that you have the qualities to succeed.  In other words – talk the talk and walk the walk.  Incorporate key words, phrases and industry important facts/successes into your bullet points in a meaningful way that demonstrates your expertise.

4. Everyone’s successful at managing

They are already facing a daunting task of getting through 300 resumes, do not put them to sleep.  Using vague phrases like “successful at managing” “oversees department” “X years of experience” tells them nothing of value.

HOW do you manage or oversee?  That is what will set you apart.  Years of experience is good, however, it is not the most important quality.  Just because someone has done a task for 10 years does not mean they are good at it.  What if they have been doing it wrong all those years?  WHY is the length of experience a benefit or give you an edge?

5. Sure you did

Listing that you were number two in sales last year is not really helping your game.  If they read that one or two thoughts could immediately pop into their head:

“What, out of three?” / “Did someone give you a book of business?”

That is the snarky teenager filling in the blank. Tell them HOW you achieved those goals and further define them to show their importance.  If you were number two out of four, maybe not such a great thing; however, if you were number two out of hundreds, well then, that is something.  Of course, if they really want to get snarky, they could ask “why not number one?”

6. Why do I even care?

Everything on your resume should support and further your value.  There should be no fluff that does not serve a purpose.  If you have a bullet point that states that you compile and distribute reports their first response could very well be, “why do I care?”

Determine the value of everything you do and convey it supporting yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.  Otherwise, what is it doing on your resume?

7. You expect me to believe that?

Don’t you even dare try to lie on your resume. It is unethical and it will be exposed.  You will lose all credibility and a job.  These poor people read hundreds of resumes, their bs meter is finely tuned.  If you compose an executive summary and list of expertise that rivals a CEO yet have just begun your career journey as an assistant to the deputy’s assistant junior team member – it will not add up.  You may try to say, well, it is just a little stretch.  Nope, it is a lie.

You have a story to tell – yours – and there is a lot of information to convey.  It is a daunting task trying to convey all that value in an impactful way in two pages or less. Yet writing your resume is not all about you.  You must consider the reader in your writing style to make sure your message is seen, read and understood.

Keep the above thoughts in mind and do a review of your own resume from this perspective.  It will make you improve your branding, communication and the chances of getting past the first round review.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

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Interviewing – Helpful Tips from a Professional Panel

woman interviewed by two

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of participating on a panel discussion on interviewing sponsored by Dress for Success Indianapolis.


I was very fortunate to be surrounded by such knowledgeable and open professionals.  There were several great points that came out during the presentation and one particularly stood out.


Here is the interesting thing, the panel was comprised of a diverse group all coming from a standpoint of hiring managers, interviewers; basically gate keepers or the ones actually performing the interview.


They were very informative and professional in representing themselves and their companies.


And then there was me.  I came from a different perspective.  I’m the coach working with the people trying to get to these professionals and impress them.  Basically, I’m in the trenches with you so I could take a little different approach in answering the questions.  I could be more blunt.  Big surprise, I know, for anyone that knows me.


This came to light when I offered one of the most important reminders about interviewing.


I stated that when answering an interviewer’s question be direct, specific and when done stop talking.  I said that a pause after the answer was not necessarily a bad thing so let the interviewer think about your answer.  They will then decide where to go from there, but during that dead time – shut up.  Yes, I actually used the phrase “shut up”.  I apologize to my mother and grandmother, of course my dad was probably shaking his head at me too.


Sometimes bluntness is an effective tool.  This is taught to me by my father do he probably wasn’t that upset, or surprised.


Anyway, what struck me as funny is when I said “shut up”  I could see the rest of the panel shake their heads in agreement and almost see a visible sigh of relief like a wave go down the line.


There were a couple that followed up in full agreement.


You see, they really do think about your answers.  They really do need that pause to think.


And they really don’t like it when you freak out and think you answered wrong and then try to fill in the dead space with verbal diarrhea.


Be prepared in your answers and potential questions.  Many are behavioral based so I highly recommend you do research on the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action and Result.  Use this as a format in showing your strengths, opportunities, lessons learned and value added.


Be confident in your answers.  Once you respond allow the interviewer to think about what you said.


They could be thinking “Hey, I never thought of that” or “This person might be good at even more” or they could be contemplating asking more about that situation or taking the next question in a new direction based on your answer.


Just because they pause does not mean you answered wrong.  Settle down cupcake, relax.


If they want clarification, they will ask.  In the meantime, while they are thinking just take a slow breath in for a three count and let it out for a three count – silently – and wait.


Oh, and one final tidbit – be nice.  They all stated that they wanted to talk to people who really wanted that job, not just any job, and were engaging with them.


Before you leave, be sure to tell them that after speaking to them you are more interested in the job now than ever.  They need to know you still want the job – it is up to you to tell them, don’t assume they know.


They have enough on their plates and do not need to take on assumptions, too.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW