Not Getting Interviews? It’s Your Resume, Stupid!

Every few months, I get an email or see a resume which makes it clear that you all need to be reminded of what exactly you should be doing on your resume in order to make sure you get the interviews that you think you deserve. Most recently, I got an email asking for input on a candidate's “Executive Summary”. Let me say this once and for all (before we get into a more detailed discussion of resumes): Get rid of your “Executive Summary!”

I am always very clear with candidates that including any sort of “Executive Summary” on a resume is the death knell of your job search. Employers, without exception, want to see a simple “Objective” communicated at the top of your resume. That objective, of course, should change depending on the job you are applying for. This is why I always tell candidates whom I coach to tweak their resumes to specifically reflect the official written description provided by the employer.

You should think of a resume as a template for how you see yourself in the new position for which you are applying. Your resume should reflect what you have done, what you have learned, and how these lessons will be applied towards your future goals, both in this new position and beyond. You want to show prospective employers exactly what they want to see. Luckily for you, employers will almost always tell you exactly what they want to see through their posted job description. Sometimes you will need to dumb your resume down, sometimes you will need to smarten it up. The key to writing resumes that lead to interviews is knowing how to present yourself as the exact ideal of what the employer wants in a candidate. Employers in most large businesses--and small ones too, for that matter--want to know that you have not lost sight of what matters most: revenue and customers. Be specific. What were your revenue goals and how did you accomplish them? How many direct reports are you in charge of?

Of course, one must always be honest during every step of the interview process, including the time before the actual interview. It is one thing to show an employer how your past experience directly relates to a new job, it is another to lie or exaggerate your experience. If you lie, chances are you’ll get caught; if you get caught, you will certainly not get the job. My point is that beyond the ethical implications of lying to get a job, it is simply not a strategy that pays off. I have seen enough candidates get caught in lies like this to know how rarely it works out. Even the small details like your home address cannot be overlooked. I can’t even begin to count how many candidates have simply listed a general region in which they reside instead of their actual street address. It should be common sense that an employer would want to know exactly where you live! If you are hiding your home address, what else is there to discover about you?

Here are some other things to consider: First, resumes written in the third person are odd to read and are always frowned upon. Second, there should be no discrepancy between your resume and your LinkedIn profile; employers will look at both for comparison, so don’t think you can pull one over on them by submitting totally different resumes in different spots. And third, make your name as simple as possible; unless you’re “Sarah Jessica Parker”, nobody cares about your middle name.

The bottom line here is that you want to honestly state how having you on the team will specifically benefit your prospective employer. You need to know exactly what they want and tell them exactly how you will make it happen. They want to know that you are somebody with whom they can get along and rely on for the long haul.

In order for you to get these coveted interviews, you need to understand what your prospective employers want. You need to read the job descriptions, research the companies, and understand the objectives of each position in order to craft a resume that specifically fits each job. Often times it is as simple as using the company’s own job description in order to entice them into an interview. I have no doubt you will find tremendous success, you just need to follow my precise directions on how to improve your resume, and you will land the interview. I guarantee it!

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