Category Archives: Resumes

A Good Resume Reflects Focus and Growth

By:  Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Associates (by permission)

Q.  My resume has gotten rather lengthy over the past few years.  I would like the help of a resume writing professional.  Any recommendations?  What can I expect to be charged?

A.  Revising resumes can be challenging.  For a professional with 15 years experience, a two-page is appropriate.  A recent college graduate should plan on one page.  Three pages or more can be acceptable for PhD’s, academics, and researchers.

You may decide to use a resume writer. But there are questions to be answered.  First, identify the target audience and target role.  What do you need to highlight?  Your goal is to make areas stand out that compel hiring managers to bring you in.

Next, edit older roles.  Start at the bottom of the experience section.  Review each line with a “So what? Will it matter to the hiring manager?”  Make sure you show growth in each job, a diversity of areas of success, and quantify as much as possible.  Follow this process with each position.  Your most recent job should have the greatest detail.

Your education also needs to be edited.  Unless you were number one in your class, no GPS’s are needed, other than at entry level positions.  Edit civic and voluntary activity for what they reveal about you.

A summary offers more information than an objective.  At the screening stage, employers are interested in how they can use your skills.

After you go through your resume, you may decide to work with a professional. ….. Ask for references. You can expect to pay $80 to $150 per hour, or $500 to $750 for packages that include resume writing and production.

Resume: (Again) The Necessity of an Objective in Your Resume

By:  John Holmgren –

Please include an “Objective” at the top of your resume!

I’ve talked about this before.  I bring it up again to emphasize its importance.

You want a job.  I (the hiring manager) advertise a job.  You apply for the job.

I or a HR rep get your resume, along with many others.  Many, many others!

Please understand this:


Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. My first pass on an avalanch of resumes

is not to look for the all-star.  It is to reduce the pile to a manageable number.

What’s the first thing I look for?  What are you looking for!

If I need a Customer Service Representative and your resume’s Objective doesn’t

say Customer Service Representative, your resume is in the trash.

Sorry, but that’s how it works.  So,

Be absolutely sure to have an Objective at the very top of your paper.


RESUMES: How Is One Resume Selected Over Another?

By:  John Holmgren,

The first aim is to not be eliminated by bad resume presentation.

Suppose your resume is in a stack of resumes for a position you would like to have.

How do you give yourself the best chance that your resume will even be read, much less chosen for further consideration?

One secret is that resume readers, whether the Human Resources rep or the hiring manager, aren’t reading to select an All Star.  They are reading to ELIMINATE all those that don’t qualify for the position.

Read that paragraph again.  It is critically important!

Now, you would think that if you have the qualifications for the job, you would get into the “selected” pile.  Not necessarily.  Not if your qualifications are buried in the text.

Please believe that this is the most important thing I can tell you about your resume.

You MUST state an OBJECTIVE at the very outset of you resume.

Information you provide the reader at the top of page 1 of your resume is critical.

Here’s why:

Suppose I want to hire a Customer Service Representative (I don’t!).  If your resume doesn’t state in the Objective section at the top of page 1 that you want to be a Customer Service Representative, your resume will go in the waste basket.

I will eliminate all whose resume doesn’t state that clearly.  It makes my job easier and, in this economy, I get many, many applications.  I’m too busy to try to study your paper.

It is just as simple as that.  Information “above the fold” as the newspaper people say, is where the business is done.


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