Monthly Archives: December 2010

Resumes: Use Lot’s of White Space

By:  John Holmgren

You are applying for a position that is perfect for your career and your dreams.

You want to tell the company (HR) resume reader everything you’ve ever done!


Back to basics:  The purpose of your resume is to get an interview (not the job).

Your first objective is to get your resume read at all!  You have to make me (the reader) want to take the time to read it.

If you put too much ink on the page, you make my job too hard.  I’ll throw it out!  You are making me work to understand what you do.  I don’t have time for that!  GONE!

The resume is a tease.  The response you want is, “Here’s someone who can help.  Let’s learn more”.  Make that briefly but abundantly clear.

Especially now, hiring organizations will receive many resumes for any desirable job.

Don’t do yourself in by providing too much detail.  This is especially true of people who have technical backgrounds.  Focus on accomplishment.  Leave detail for the interview.

In his 2000 book, “Don’t Make Me Think”, Steve Krug makes several very useful points on page 31.  Among them, “Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page”, “Break pages up into clearly defined areas”, “Minimize noise”.

My view is that his last point, “Minimize noise” is critical.  Tell the story of your capabilities briefly.  If it is readable, brief and to the point, you give yourself the best chance for further consideration.

An analogy is that of driving on a highway at 70 miles per hour and seeing a billboard at the side of the road.  That is the amount of time you have to create an impression before your resume is discarded.  Remember the acronym KISS?  Keep It Simple Stupid.

Too much ink (detail) will do you in!

BTW, I recommend Krug’s book highly.  Its focus is web sites, but the parallel use for resumes is clear.  And, you may want to develop your own employment web site.


Resume: customize to emphasize your appropriate job skills

By:  John Holmgren

Using a “one-size-fits-all” resume is nearly always a mistake.  Job specifications are very precise.  The more closely your resume “Objective” and “Summary” sections match the stated spec, the better your chance of getting an interview.

Do I recommend that you “stretch” your qualifications?  Absolutely not!

However, most job candidates have several skills.  As an example, you may be interested in working for a wholesale industrial distributor.  In reviewing your experience, you decide you are qualified to be an inside sales representative, a customer service rep or a sales administrator.

It is not effective to submit an all-purpose resume that says you can do anything.  Remember, the position is open because the organization is trying to solve a staffing problem.  If, in this case, they are looking for a customer service rep and your resume emphasizes your skills as an inside sales rep, you lessen your likelihood of getting the interview.

In modifying your resume for this position, the “Objective” is obvious.  Your goal is to be a customer service representative.

The “Summary” recaps the evidence that you are qualified for the position.

I recommend that you immediately build a file of 15 – 25 bullet items of your many and varied skills.  Having done this, it is an easy matter to select the 5 – 6 most appropriate skills for this specific opportunity and to cut and paste them into your resume “Summary” section.

Recall that it is the information “above the fold” on page 1 that is the most powerful.

This will give your resume the greatest possible initial impact because you have stressed your most appropriate skills for the position.  It will improve your interview chances and it will take just a few minutes to complete.


Resume Basics

By: John Holmgren

I’m a professional resume writer. The vast majority of my work is rewriting and upgrading client’s unsatisfactory and ineffective resumes. Let’s go over some resume basics to help you critique and improve your own resume. Various resume issues will be discussed in detail in subsequent posts. You will likely know most of this but may pick up an idea or two.

The importance of your resume is that it, and it alone, creates your first impression with an organization. It is “you” when you are not there. Make it the best possible.

The purpose of your resume is to sell an interview, not the job! If it gets you in-person consideration, it’s done its job. In my years of selling computers, no one ever bought because of the proposal. It merely got my product included on the short list.

You have mere seconds to get the reader’s attention. The information at the top of page 1 of your resume (“Objective” & “Summary”) is what counts. Make your career goal (“Objective”) and the reasons you are qualified (“Summary”) crystal clear and brief.

Resume readers quickly eliminate resumes whose “Objective” doesn’t match their job spec. It’s in your interest to learn as much as possible about the open position.

You improve your interview chances by customizing your resume to emphasize your skills that most closely match the job specification.

Keep your language simple and short; use bullets and telegraphic style; avoid mysterious industry jargon and acronyms.

Sending 50 – 100+ identical resumes to a list of companies is largely a waste of time.

Stay tuned for further discussion. John

How To Find A Job In A Jobless Recovery

By John Challenger, CEO
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Advertise your job loss.
If knowing the right people helps to get your foot in the door, then it is essential that the right people know you are seeking a job. An unfortunate obstacle to job search success is pride. Too often people are embarrassed to tell anyone about their job loss, but this secrecy will not provide any job leads.

The minute you lose your job or decide you want to change jobs, start telling everyone you know that you are looking. Begin with friends, family and neighbors.

Talk to former co-workers and even casual business acquaintances you may have dealt with in your position. Share your plight with people at your house of worship. You can also join new social groups, professional associations and volunteer organizations to expand your circle of potential contacts.

Meet with new people every day (or as often as possible).
Whether it is an official interview, an informational interview or just meeting over lunch with a friend who has extensive contacts in a variety of industries, it is critical to meet face to face with people in your network frequently, if not daily.

Electronic mail has made staying in touch with contacts faster and easier, but face-to-face meeting remain the most powerful and effective way to communicate your skills, experience and qualifications as well as obtain the most useful help from your contact, in terms of job search advice, potential contacts and new opportunities.


By John Holmgren,

Overview – The problem

Newspapers and online bulletin boards are fine for locating ordinary jobs. However, an open secret is that the best positions rarely appear there. With thousands of resumes posted online in virtually every discipline, and employer searches done by keywords, your resume suffers long odds of getting you a job interview.

So, how do you find the hidden premier positions? Answer: networking. Networking is contacting everyone you know, and many you don’t, in the search for your next job.

Purpose of Networking

Get to the top of the candidate list with the assist of a personal referral
Broaden your opportunity by letting people know you are looking
Locate the not widely publicized prime level job opportunities in your industry

Networking With Whom?

Build your 100 person network; try to get into each contact’s network. It’s the most efficient way to locate the most desirable jobs
Contact: family, friends, acquaintances, librarians, waiters, neighbors, union members, class mates, professors, athletic club members
Contact: past and present employers / fellow employees
Contact: professional association membership, college employment office
Contact: your state’s congressional delegation’s offices, local business associations, the SBA, Chambers of Commerce, church and community volunteer groups, state employment department

The Networking Process

Contact targeted members of your network by phone or letter
Best of all; ask a mutual friend to introduce you
Introduce yourself; state the reason for the contact
Say that your meeting will be less than 30 minutes
Ask to have your resume critiqued
Request another lead (always!)
Know every organization in your geographic area that could employ you
Contact human resources; if they aren’t hiring they frequently know who is
Keep records: contact dates; follow-up schedule; meetings planned; letters and resumes sent, referrals you’ve received; from whom and to whom
Attend networking breakfasts and meetings that are person-to-person, not business-to-business
Build your web site; include your resume
Be sure to include recruiters. Among others, “Kennedy’s Directory of Executive Recruiters” lists agencies specializing in your career area and geography.

The Networking Conclusion

Having accepted a new position, write your entire network with the good news. Thank each one for the help given. Offer to do the same for another person who is looking.


By: John Holmgren,

There are two schools of thought on the subject.

Pro: A job “OBJECTIVE” not only should, but must be a part of your resume.
Con: The “OBJECTIVE” narrows your applicability.


First and foremost, HR and hiring managers have a problem to solve; an open job
They’re not reading idly
They’re not concerned with you individually
They must fill the position soonest
They must identify capable candidates
Desirable positions attract many resumes

It’s a multi-phase selection process.

First, received resumes are briefly scanned (½ – 2 minutes). Today, job specs are very precise. Those not fitting the job description are eliminated out of hand. Yours must state clearly your job position “OBJECTIVE”.

If the company needs an “auto claims adjuster” and your “OBJECTIVE” doesn’t say “auto claims adjustor”, you’re gone.

I make the point because it’s so important. Be specific. Don’t say you want to contribute to the prosperity (or whatever) of the organization or that you want to advance your career.

Second is close evaluation of selected resumes. This reading still only involves scanning the top half of page one. Therefore, after your “OBJECTIVE”, a “PROFILE”, or “EXECUTIVE SUMMARY” is necessary. It states the skills and capabilities supporting your claim of qualification. That may get you an interview. It should get you on the short candidate list deserving closer examination.



1: “If I don’t get this job, I’ll fit somewhere else in the organization”. Job criteria are very specific. It’s unlikely you’ll get “shopped around” the organization.

2: “If I don’t get this I’m “dead” as a candidate. Nonsense! HR and hiring managers look to satisfy needs. That, or a related job, may resurface. And, if you have strong skills your resume will be retained.

3: “It’s easier for me to have just one resume format to submit”. True, if you’re lazy. Your must customize your resume for maximum impact with each job situation. Each must be one-off.

4: “I’m a generalist. I can do most anything”. Bull! That’s not the way it works.

My conclusion: you MUST have an “OBJECTIVE” in your resume to stand out!