How to Make Everyone – Including You – Stop Hating Your Resume


Let’s have a shout out – who likes to read resumes?




That’s what I thought. Now imagine if you had to read resumes a lot of resumes – to find the right person for your organization. How much would you enjoy your day?

Why do resumes have such a bad rap? Let’s take a look at some resume language that is very common:

“Experienced XYZ looking to use my leadership and MNO skills to improve blah, blah, blah…

“Responsible for we have already lost interest in whatever this might be….”

Or how about bullet points that are a recap of the job description:

  • Organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity
  • Supervise employees and provide feedback and counsel to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maintain relationships with partners/vendors/suppliers
  • Gather, analyze and interpret external and internal data and write reports
  • Assess overall company performance against objectives

Ugh! It’s all a big snooze fest. Not only is it boring, it is painful to read. Why? Because, in essence, the person hasn’t told you anything and it doesn’t even sound like a person!

There are two critical elements that every resume needs to get – and hold – the attention of the reader. Your value and your voice.


Please, please, please stop using your job description as your bullet points. That is telling the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Instead, use these as a starting point.

For example: organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity.

There is no ROI in that statement. It is missing your value. Expand on that by answering who you worked with, how, what you did and how productivity was maximized. Give metrics if possible, if not, describe the before and after.

I want to meet the organization who’s operations are simple enough for one bullet point. Really? Operations covers quite a bit of ground so break it out – show your value across the whole stream. There will be more value and beneficiaries. These could be the company, clients, processes, team, or an individual.

That is a lot of ground to cover – start writing it out. The more the merrier. It gives you more to play with when you are ready to start ruthlessly editing.

Which leads right into the second critical component: your voice


Please, please, please stop trying to write in ‘resume language’. It sounds unnatural and fluffy full of filler words. Your resume should speak to the reader and it should sound like you. Most of us do not litter our conversations with hundred dollar words when a ten cent-er will do.

Start with the dime conversation. Write out what you do as though you were talking to a real person. Go into detail, be natural, and use words that feel right to you. Don’t even think about putting it in a resume yet, just talk/write like a real person.

Once you get a mound of information, now the fun begins! Time to slice and dice. Look for commonalities that you can group. Is there a shorter way of expressing those two sentences? Ask yourself, what is the real point of these sentences, what do I most want them to know? Start there, then fill in the how’s.

Don’t take anything you do for granted. You may think everyone does what you and the way you do. They don’t. How you approach, solve, or plow through processes or projects is what makes you different.

Differentials are golden. Polish that gold by using your voice. Enhance your voice by using a thesaurus. “Manage” and “responsible for” get old quick. The thesaurus is your friend!

Keep editing, trimming and making sure your words are in there. That is how your voice will come through.

Oh, let’s not forget the keywords. These are critical for a little thing called ATS. Applicant Tracking Software. That is the wonderful tool that most companies use to screen your resume. They are looking for those keywords to qualify or disqualify you for the position.

The best place to find keywords is the job description. Where do you think the ATS gets them?

Just to make it more fun, ATS is getting smarter. It used to be that it only counted the number of key words in the resume. Now some software has evolved to be able to understand concepts. For example, if it is a project manager job, one camp of ATS is looking – and counting – ‘project management’.  The second camp of ATS understands context. It knows that “Managed this project” means project management and it counts.

Incorporate the keywords – and your words – into value rich bullet points. The result will be a resume that the reader will understand and want to find out more.



 I help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★

Why It Is Critical To Write To Your Audience


I was fortunate to present a seminar on LinkedIn last week to an amazing group of people.  One of the greatest aspects of this experience was the understanding by the leadership of the opportunities and value with LinkedIn as a marketing tool for each individual while supporting the organization as a whole.


When discussing the composition of a profile I was speaking to the point of writing directly to your target market.  That is when a bit of fear came across a few faces.  The sentiment that was expressed was, in a nutshell, I don’t want to exclude anyone – I want to make sure I am open to anyone wanting to do business.


No you don’t.


One of the attendees joked in his introduction that he was a jack of all trades, master of none.  Writing in any form of business communication portrays you in this manner.  “I can help anyone at any time with any thing.”


In business that does not always come across in the appropriate way, unfortunately it can come across more often than not as one word: desperate.  I will take any business, just please give me business.


It is important to not only identify your target market but to speak directly to them for three critical reasons:



  1. 1.   It demonstrates your expertise
  2. 2.   It establishes your voice
  3. 3.   It engages your target audience



Demonstrating Your Expertise


Speaking in specifics demonstrates how you have set yourself apart from others in your field – and you are leading the pack.  In the insurance and human resource fields there is a title that is commonly used: Generalist. Within the industries these terms are understood in their role.


For insurance it is an agent that can represent several types of insurance rather than focusing only on one or more.  In HR it is an individual that performs several roles including recruitment, hiring, screening, assisting with policies/procedures and maintaining corporate/compliance filing.


They are defined roles.


The dictionary defines a generalist as: “A person competent in several different fields or activities.”


Now let’s take that definition from the perception of those outside the industries.  Competent.  If I am spending money I certainly want someone who is much more than competent.  I want an expert.


A generalist can be translated by a prospect as just that: general.  Not a specialist, not an expert, not fully competent, not experienced enough to handle the complexities of high net worth individuals or situations.


Even though using the term generalist in your profile will resonate with those in your industry, it may be eliminating your prospects because they do not understand what it is you do.  Internally you can be a great resource because of your broad based knowledge and that is communicated with the term Generalist; externally your message is not the same.


Establishing Your Voice


When you read a novel you form pictures in your mind of the characters based on the words presented.  It is the same when someone reads your LinkedIn profile, business biography or resume.  It is important to write your profile in manner that utilizes words that represent you while speaking from the client perspective.  When the profile sounds like you there is alignment when that prospect speaks to you either in person or over the phone.


Without this alignment the prospect is left wondering, “which one are they?”  Are you the profile or the person in front of them or on the other end of the phone?  If there is confusion it opens the door to doubt, which makes it much more difficult to establish a connection.


Writing to your market in your voice establishes the tone for all future communications.  They know what to expect.  When that is confirmed in person or by phone establishing trust and a relationship can begin.


Engaging Your Target Market


Speaking to your audience, expressing their concerns and how you provide solutions and insight is critical.  They need to see themselves in your message, they need to understand that you get them.  Address their needs, their expectations, their challenges.  Take it a step further demonstrating that you provide the appropriate, cost-effective, benefit driven solution.


This will engage them for two reasons: they can see themselves in your message, they feel understood.  Secondly, they can then be more open to understanding the benefits, value and costs meaning they are more willing to move forward confidently.


My personal LinkedIn profile is written for my resume/LinkedIn clients.  I included the two most popular phrases I hear the most from my clients.  This immediately resonates with prospects.  I speak in a clear, straightforward manner, which is consistent with my in-person communication.


I then go on to explain, in a simple formula, my philosophy and approach followed by a clear definition of the elements and why they are important.  I provide my voice, address their challenge and explain how I provide the solution in an easy to understand, engaging manner.


To view my profile click here:


When writing your LinkedIn profile, resume or business communication get out of your own head and get into the head of your market.  Talk to them in a manner they understand, identify with them, present yourself as the expert that you are and come from a voice that is true to you. That is how you create engagement.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.