Category Archives: Resume Writing Tips

Ask me questions

by:  John Holmgren

If you follow this site you must know that my prime purpose is to assist people in finding work.  I have been putting out “information” that has seemed relevant to me.  However, that is only from my prospective.

So, I ask you for questions on topics / issues that are important to you.

I promise to give as straight an answer as I can, within the scope of my knowledge, or do my best to research the topic to get you a competent opinion.

Respond with any questions on your mind.  You will not be identified.  Issues that are difficult for you are not unique.  Let’s share them.  Perhaps we will all benefit.

I’m willing to help with the research to locate  information that will help in the job search.

Your turn to participate!

Let’s share.  We can all learn of effective methods of finding new or more satisfying employment.

How to Measure Your Achievements

By: Joyce Lain Kennedy, Tribune Media Services

Dear Joyce: You advise readers to “quantity” on their resume what they do.  I’m a call center employee working from home. I can’t quantify.  I answer customers’ questions and resolve their issues. Now what? — M.T.

Actually, you may be able to state impressive measurable performance indicators. Don’t say your job is to answer customer calls, take information, type into a computer and send e-files to a distribution center.  Your reason for being is to answer customer questions and resolve issues. How many customers are satisfied each day because you answered their questions?  How many issues do you resolve daily?

Almost everyone can quantify their work using direct output measurement. Examples are: sales per month; number of people protected with flue shots; number of invoices processed for company revenue; percentage of expenses cut this year over last; number of accounting statements issued on time.

If you simply cannot find a direct measure, use indirect measures: as a plant worker, mention your rate of attendance and punctuality (97 percent attendance, 99 percent on time); as an administrative assistant, you completed clerical projects 100 percent on deadline.

A manager has more leeway to discuss cost-benefit ratios as performance indicators. A recruiter, for example, could calculate performance by dividing recruiting costs by the number of employees hired.

If getting a raise, rather than a resume, is your aim and you can’t come up with quantifiers, create your own measurement graphic. Show a spectrum of skills, starting with those you had when you started and skills you have now. An upward line shows how far you’ve progressed.

Measurements are persuasive in both job search and seeking reward for your good work.

People Are Modest – Don’t You Be on Your Resume

By:  John Holmgren

Organizations hire people for only one reason: to help achieve its objectives.

The important word in that sentence is “achieve”.

Your resume is read and evaluated for your achievements.  If you have been effective in doing your part to assist an organization in meeting its goals, it’s reasonable to assume you can do the same for this group.

That puts a high priority burden on you to make your accomplishments and achievements very clear, explicit and visible.  This is no time for shy modesty and subtlety.

The old line is “if you can do it, it ain’t bragging”!

That is not to suggest that you should brag.  That is never attractive.  However, you can bring out your promotions, awards, advancements and achievements in a way that is not bragging.  Be objective and report these events on your resume as bullets under your job title.  Use telegraphic style.  It depersonalizes the information.

Let the reader know that you have been promoted; saved the organization money; implemented a new and effective procedure; exceeded sales goals; earned a patent; whatever.

That is the information that earns you a second look.  It’s the meat on the bones.

Don’t make the mistake of making your resume a series of job descriptions.  What you have achieved and what you can achieve for this organization is their sole interest.

Cheers, John

Including a Resume Job “Objective”: A Must?

By: John Holmgren

( I wrote this entry originally last December.  I’m republishing it now not because I’m out of things to say,  but because it got lots of comments.  More recent readers may have missed it)

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!

Biggest resume mistakes

By:  John Holmgren

Keep in mind that I ran a recruiting firm for 10 years and worked daily with hiring

managers.  So, this is a consensus of the most common errors.

List Job Descriptions Rather than Accomplishments

It should be obvious that an employer will hire a person who can assist in reaching

that organization’s goals.  To assist means accomplishing!  If anything is critical

in your resume it is that you include all accomplishments, promotions, increased

responsibilities, awards, ways you made a difference, and so forth.

Give me a reason to want to see you.  That reason is that you can help me!

No Objective

I’m either in HR or the hiring manager and you don’t specify why you are

asking to be considered for a specific position.  I don’t have time for you.

Too Much Information

You are intent on telling me EVERYTHING about you!  The resume is a tease.

Provide your accomplishments relevant to that position, and only that.

If I see a resume that is dense with black ink, I won’t read it!  True.

Lack of Customization

The issue here is that you are either clue-less or lazy.  An employer wants

specific capabilities.  If you don’t find what is wanted and extract from your

experience those skills that most closely match the job, you’re gone!

Posting to a Bulletin Board and Waiting for the Jobs to Come

Passive.  Oh, well, I’ll just let the world know how wonderful I am and job

offers will come flowing in.  That may be the case if all you want is a

“job”.  However, if you want a “career”, it doesn’t work like that.

If your career marketing plan is passive and depends on things coming to

you, Good Luck!  Otherwise, get out, network and hustle.

Unrealistic Expectations Given Job Experience

I know,  it’s the Now Generation.  We all expect instant gratification.  However

in every profession I know of, you have to earn your stripes.  Be prepared to

take a position that may be less than you anticipated, especially now in this


I’m being preachy. I realize.  Sorry, but just trying to be honest.

Cheers,   John

RESUMES: Do Not Include References in Your Resume

By:  John Holmgren

There is good reason for not including references in your resume


Surely you want the organization with whom you are applying for employment to know that important people think highly of you?  Don’t you?

NO!  At least not initially.

Your references are precious.  They have agreed to say positive things about you (assuming they are not your relatives!).

Be careful how you use them.

Bring them into play only when it is important –  when their word could be the difference between you getting the job or not.

You would think that your resume would go directly to the person that has authority to hire you: The Hiring Manager!  That is a false assumption.

In many organizations, your resume will be first screened by a Human Resource person.

In the interest of thoroughness, that person may check your references (because you are a likely candidate) before forwarding your paper for further consideration.

In this tough economy, you will be sending out many resumes.  There is much competition for good positions.

Since you are a good candidate, your references will be getting regular calls about your capabilities.  Answering reference questions takes time, and there is never enough of that.

About the third time your reference gets a call he / she well lose patience.  You will lose, unknown to you, a good reference.

Offering references are appropriate in the second or third contact with a potential employer.  You will get the sense that the time is right, or the employer will request them.

Hold off until then.