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by Sara Pacelle

Asking a dozen people to critique your resume, you will inevitably get a dozen different opinions.  I hear this often from my career planning and job seeking clients.  It’s actually quite frustrating to them because the devil is in the details, especially with a resume.  How much information is too much?   Which words have become trite?  How do I manage search engine optimization of my resume?  Should be it chronological or functional?  How do I describe a gap in my employment?  These are all good specific questions and they need to be addressed properly, but, let’s take a step back and make sure we really understand the mission of the resume.

A good resume is a highly condensed yet intriguing marketing piece that broadcasts your achievements and accomplishments and promotes your skills and strengths sufficiently enough to excite the interest of a hiring manager.  The last part is the most important.  You need to get the attention of the stressed out and overworked hiring manager in the deluge of resumes s/he will be reading.  I like to think of a resume like a movie trailer.  Consider yourself sitting in a movie theater, popcorn and Twizzlers in hand, poised to watch a highly-acclaimed film that you have been waiting months to see.  But first, you’re forced to sit through three or four movie trailers of coming attractions. Think about the components of the successful movie trailer that will make you turn to your date and say, “That looks good!”   The trailer just told you the condensed story of a film giving it maximum appeal.  It did its job… to make the viewer want to see the movie.  In the same way, the resume is meant to give a strong impression of how results-driven and accomplished you are so that the hiring manager will pick up the phone and call you.

The most important thing to know about the resume is that it is not the interview.  The resume is what gets you into the interview.  Don’t get bogged down trying to explain everything you did in your jobs.  You can do that in the interview.  Relay the high level points and play to your relevant strengths.  You know what they are, so let your reader know as well. You want to leave the reader with the feeling that you are relevant to them, someone they really want to meet.  You need to indicate an upbeat tone and a likable personality, your character, confidence and competence.  (Be careful not to show arrogance or self-aggrandizement.)   Build your story and keep it going forward, showing how you progressed from one position to the next and how your skillsets increased with each position.  Show your increasing and quantifiable accomplishments (massive explosions) to create emotion and have the reader begging for more.  In the way a movie trailer escalates its action, then abruptly stops, let the reader see your results and achievements, but leave them wondering how you accomplished these things and how you would replicate them in their workplace. 

Like a good succinct movie trailer, a results-driven resume should not be too long.  Keep the energy high with strong, clear language and you will keep the attention of your resume reader.  Doing so will fulfill the purpose of the resume, that is, to get the interview. Like a powerful trailer, the resume should be condensed and succinct but not too short at the risk of not promoting you enough.  A long-winded resume will lose the interest of the reader.

A results-driven resume tells the reader that you are relevant to them and to their organization, that it will be worth their time to talk to you more, and that will get you in the door.