Your Resume Is Not a Tweet

I read it, and I get it, and I buy-in to the 20-second ‘resume scan’ rule. Yet, I don’t  FULLY buy in. What I mean is, I don’t accept the implication by some that  your resume only gets a 10-, 20-, 30-second sweeping glance by the hiring manager, recruiter, HR. .. AND THAT’S IT (the end of the road for your resume).

I love how GL Hoffman discusses the lean resume concept by playfully experimenting with the idea of a  6-word resume over at his blog. I enjoy these thought-provoking experiments, and I believe Twitter and other social media vehicles are teaching us to write tighter and more thoughtfully. These exercises help us all do a better job of drilling down to our unique value statements for those quick quips and exchanges we ‘initially’ may have with someone in our networking group or during any aspect of job courting.

As well, your resume must be glimpseable and pithy to grab the attention of the reader so he will pluck yours from the stacks of lukewarm, unfocused resumes and call you in for the interview.

However, I fear we may get so caught up into thinking our resumes must be tweet-like and ultra-lean, that we miss out on an expanded opportunity to provide content- and story-rich value, with muscle and meat!

Job seekers, and those who are presently employed but actively engaged in their career management, let’s take a breath, please, and realize the value of your message, and the extended value of your words, moving from conversation to conversation and interview to interview, reinforcing and propelling your unique proposition of value.

Once it has reached the short stack, realize if written strategically and compellingly, the resume can and often WILL support your interview movement, represent your professional/executive presence and boost your momentum leading to the negotiation phases. Recently, one of my actively interviewing resume clients, expressed that value so well, saying this about his resume:  “It is absolutely a great presentation and value statement, and I love how it moves from all the lower level discussions to the higher level ones so quickly.”

If you honor the resume process, you will reap the return-on-time and intellectual investment deep into your interview engagements. The resume is your partner in the process of clarifying not only who you are but what you bring to the job-opportunity table. No longer a brief listing of where you were, when you were there and what you ‘did,’ the eloquent and compelling resume knits you intimately into the company’s story fabric.

Suddenly, they gasp, “Aha, I can no longer live without this person. He is the salve for our pain, the revenue driver for our lagging sales, the inspirer for our lackadaisical team …” (You get the drift).

Beyond that, once you’re contacted for the interview, your resume can guide the interview process (yes, it will not only land the interview, it will provide fuel for the interview conversation). As well, for group interviews, your resume is passed around among interviewers; and for deeper interview processes involving senior managers, executives and board members, their first impression of you is a read-through and sometimes, thorough examination of your resume BEFORE you walk through their doors for a face-to-face interview.

Yes, you heard right, a read-through: they are  actually reading through and scrutinizing your resume, judging you by your resume presence. Is it assumptive? Assuming they know your value? Tactical? Only providing the nuts and bolts of your career, but not really positioning you for their needs strategically? Is it boring? Yawn. Is it elementary in design? Again, like a pressed suit, polished shoes, coiffed hair and the tailored words that spew from your lips, your resume represents YOU at every critical stage of the interview conversation.

Explore posts in the same categories: Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Professional Resume Writer, resume, Resume Story

15 Comments on “Your Resume Is Not a Tweet”

  1. GL Hoffman Says:

    Your post should be required reading for every career counselor and resume helper. For sure, one should have a resume that communicates exactly what the person can do for the company. I almost think it does not matter what the paper, what font or even how many pages. Does the resume accurately give the hiring manager a good picture of what this person can do?
    I have seen resumes that could fit on a 3 by 5 card and resumes that were really white papers. The key, it seems to me, is to be exceptionally well written. This is why most people need professional help.
    just my two cents.

  2. careertrend Says:

    You’re right, the key is “exceptionally well written.” As well, having a “resume that communicates exactly what the person can do for the company.”

    This isn’t easy to do, but imperative. I agree that resumes come in all shapes, sizes and colors <–no REAL, hard and fast rules regarding length, font, etc.

    It's all about the message, and fitting the reader's needs.

    Thanks very much for your comment!

  3. Some resume reviewers do scan the resume in 20 seconds flat. Others dissect each one. But many, do BOTH.
    Many coaches talk about the first third of the resume being the most critical. It is in this “first impression of the first impression” where hiring managers can figure out who you are. Having an expert summary and explanation of your accomplishments is critical.
    But don’t think for a second that if you pass the quick scan, you’re guaranteed an interview. The initial impression can be soured by a resume’s “second half” that doesn’t support the first half.
    Bottom line: You will attract attention (in a good way) with a resume that grabs their eye, but you will get an interview with a resume that keeps them reading.

  4. careertrend Says:

    You got me with this phrase: “first impression of the first impression” <–nicely put! And you're right, an "expert summary/explanation of accomplishments" IS critical!

    As importantly, you point out something that is worth underscoring: "The initial impression can be soured by a resume's 'second half' that doesn't support the first half." Many people do fall down on the resume job by inadvertently 'slacking' on the 'rest of the resume.' Every word and nuance is critical.

    Indeed, "Keep them reading!"

    Your comments well worth recapping here in my reply!


  5. Dawn Lennon Says:

    Jacqui, this post is such a wake-up call. I love your description of the hiring manager’s “Ah ha” moment when reading a great resume…”I can no longer live without this person.” You are so right that a resume is the candidate’s voice heard through their written words–the way to make the manager feel the candidate is already his/her colleague. The ability to use the language of business in a way that captures not just what we’ve done but how we work,what we stand for, and how we deliver indispenable value is what seals the deal. Our resumes are our marketing brochures and our service promise–the backbone of every job search.
    This post is a must read for every job seeker!

    • careertrend Says:

      I like the idea of the resume capturing “how we deliver indispensable value.” Indeed, by capturing our value, the influence document has the power to induce a hiring decision maker to act!

      As well, your referring to the resume as our “service promise – the backbone of every job search” is great!

      Thank you, once again, for stopping by and adding value to the conversation!

  6. Steve Says:

    I’m thinking about how I fell in love – it was external at first sight…really. Loved the eyes, the smile, the way her hands looked. Even went to the “second page” and thought, “Nice tush.”

    She was sweating up a storm – this was the gym – and the total picture practically screamed, “I am in such good shape, you’ll never get any better than this!”

    And she was right.

    It was all her, not a facsimile of someone else. Not the same black tights, perfect gym make-up; no flipping of the hair, no sassy laugh. Pure and honest.

    I’d like to see jobseekers reach out to the ad placer, recruiters, hiring managers, etc. ahead of time and say something like this as part of a conversation…

    JS: “On face value, the job description is interesting but something’s missing and this something will prevent me from sending you my resume…”

    HM: “Really? And what might that be?”

    JS: “Well, you’re going to hire me to solve problems, right?”

    HM: “Uh, sure as shit Sherlock.” (ok, maybe they won’t say this)

    JS: “Then would you please let me know the details of the top three specific problems that I’ll be addressing in my first 90-180 days on the job? In return, I’ll give you the details on my specific experiences in solving those types of problems. No dancing around the Maypole, just cutting right to the chase.”

    HM: OMG…

    If they balk, they’re demonstrating that they really won’t be so much fun to work with and you decide to walk away if the little voice inside your heads is screaming for you run, not walk.

    • careertrend Says:

      What an illustrative comment, Steve! Your falling-in-love story is a fun analogy to the initial, palpable impression we make upon one another during the courting stage, whether job interviewing or dating!

      As well, your sample dialogue between a job seeker and hiring manager is lively. What a valuable exchange if job seekers and hiring managers would always cut right to the chase in addressing problem-solving goals during interviews.

      Thank you for stopping by my blog!

  7. Steve Says:

    Too bad most coaches & resume writers recommend the same parachute…

  8. Mike Ramer Says:

    Jacqui, As always from your posts, creative and well-written on a key topic.

    I agree. The length of a resume should not be the overriding factor. Like the candidate himself, more important is substance/quality over look/length.

    However, the resume is a marketing document with the sole purpose of obtaining an interview. So, good formatting (and reasonable length) does invite a hiring manager to read on.

    What “magic” gets a resume in “pile A” so a candidate will be interviewed is the larger question (and may be a good topic for another post.)

    As a search consultant who reads my share of resumes every day, here are a few points of what I look for:
    – The resume is usually a reflection of the person. First impressions count. Look/format/length tell me personality traits of person. Organized, thoughtful, long-winded, etc.
    – The “Professional Summary” or “Career Profile” at top is critical. This is what I read first. It “packages” the candidate for the job. If I think there could be a fit, I read on.
    – Initially, I do scan a resume looking for key “fit” variables including; experience level, education and/or credentials, geographic match, etc.
    – The candidate’s current work experience is key. Position? Company? Accomplishments? Tenure?
    – Overall, I look for track record and performance. Are accomplishments quantified? This shows the value a candidate can bring to a future employer.

    Good post Jacqui! I look forward to future ones from our “resident resume expert” on Best, Mike

    • careertrend Says:

      Very nice that you ‘stopped by’ today! Appreciate your kind words.

      We agree on a key foundational assertion: “substance/quality over look/length.”

      Certainly, reasonable length is a consideration (keyword: “reasonable” – as I’m sure you know, varying opinions arise when length is discussed); and good formatting DOES invite a hiring manager to read on (I LIKE the word ‘invite,’ which evokes a visceral reaction; in fact, the idea of the resume as an invitation to meet is one that ‘invites’ further conversation at a later time 🙂

      Moreover, I often find that good formatting and, of course, content strategy, often impact a hiring manager’s page-length preference. A well-written/formatted 3-pager versus a poorly written/formatted 3-pager are miles apart in how they are perceived!

      Yes, the resume is a marketing document, I agree! Though its purpose is to land an interview, I also believe its purpose can extend by perpetuating the conversation and further building the crescendo of opportunity and conversation, deep into the layers of the interview process.

      Mike, your insights on what you look for when reviewing resumes are spot on, in my book! Thank you for so concisely and powerfully articulating those.

      I love: “The resume is usually a reflection of the person. First impressions count. Look/format/length tell me the personality traits … organized, thoughtful, long-winded, etc.” < so true!

      Moreover, your other points resonate, and indeed, the track record/performance (quantified) are integral in creating a high-performance, value-showcasing resume.

      Thank you, Mike! (and for the Talent Culture shout-out – honored to be on the same 'team' with you there over at Meghan Biro's forward-moving blog).

  9. Great piece Jacqui.

    I’ve been one that tells people to keep it short, and write in substantive ‘sound bites’, because most people can’t / don’t write well written resumes. The tendency is that when they write longer, the attention grabbing pieces that are necessary to get noticed get lost in the middle of a muddled paragraph. So better to at least have the attention grabbers stick out boldly and drop the rest than to have the message lost altogether.

    And unfortunately, there are a number of poor professional resume writers out there. Unlike you, who can actually write, many try to squeeze their clients into a pre-canned format or, because they don’t understand their client’s field, they fill the resume with irrelevant or unimportant information. They are often beautiful to look at, and have great well constructed sentences, but lack appropriate substance.

    A good professional resume writer can create a highly effective document for their client. However, my experience has been that it’s VERY hard to find a good writer.

    I believe for most recruiters, if they can scan down a resume in 20 seconds and catch key things that tell them this candidate is above average in some way, and/or have the specific experience they’re seeking, they will then spend more time and read more detail. Unfortunately, too often the key things they are looking for are buried too deep in the other verbiage so it gets missed. They move on to someone else’s resume where they see it clearly.

    A good resume will make it easy to catch the important attention grabbers, and then have substantive details to back them up.

    Great post and discussion here Jacqui. I appreciate your insight as always.

    • careertrend Says:

      Thanks, Harry, for your thoughtful comments.

      You make very good points, and I agree that most people don’t write well written resumes (in fact, I’d extend that to say, many people don’t write all that well, in general).

      I think we also agree that writing longer is not (just) about adding more detail, per se, it’s about nourishing the muscle of the message, adding substance that ties directly into the hiring manager’s story.

      Though sound bites can grab attention, I believe if solely relied upon, they often leave too much on the cutting room floor, creating a staccato, often, less than compelling result. A well constructed personal marketing document will offer the right, glimpseable sound bites, drawing the recruiter, hiring manager, HR leader in for a more detailed read.

      You and I are on the same page in regard to the unfortunate number of resume writers who don’t produce excellent resumes. With a wide net of resume writers who write for pay, it’s sometimes frustrating to sort the wheat from the chaff. Pre-canned formats, irrelevant/unimportant information filling the page and a message unrelated to the target audience’s industry and needs are definitely NOT representative of a truly professionally customized resume project.

      I’ve learned in my 12 years’ growth in the careers industry, to serve a resume client well requires a deep process of unearthing their goals and connecting their value proposition to those goals (not a 1-2-punch approach; much more deliberate and extended process that may take weeks versus days).

      My concern about tweet-like resumes is this: they may work to a degree; yet, at what cost in opportunities missed, side-tracked or not fully fleshed out only because they didn’t offer up a more fully developed story, with the nuances and textures that truly breathe life into one’s career value?

      My findings are that the introspective resume development produces a more meaningful deliverable and also fortifies the job seeker’s own words and conversations … extending well beyond the resume document.

      Excellent insights, Harry, particularly from your recruiter perspective and the frustrations you encounter in receiving unfocused and/or ‘fluff’ resumes that deep-six a potential candidate’s opportunity.

      I’m so glad you entered into this not-so-easy conversation and added such great value. Thank you.

  10. […] Find out the answers over at Career Trend’s Blog. […]

  11. Fantastic post Jacqui! I wish I had known you in a former life when I was applying for HR positions. As a non-recruiter or resume writer I have always believed that shorter was better and that the 10 second scan was standard practice. It’s good to know there is another perspective. Thanks so much for putting this out there!

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