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Creating a Winning Resume – Drop it Like it’s Hot



This blog is going to discuss the winning characteristics of a resume contest that I recently hosted on LinkedIn. I am also going to talk about things I saw on resumes that did not increase the appeal of the contestant.

First, let me say that the world is moving away from resume and towards LinkedIn. There will be a day when resumes are not even in circulation. But for now, what you have on your resume should more or less match what you show on social media or it raises questions. You may think that prospective employers are not checking you out on Facebook but they absolutely are so think twice about that spring break in Cancun drinking buddy picture.

The most common flaws that I saw were font size was too small and resumes were not confined to one page. Font size is easy to fix; it should be 11 point or larger. Remember that a job search is not about you (the candidate), it’s about them (the employer). It depends more on what they need and how you appear as meeting that need than about the features that you have as a professional. In other words, this is not a beauty contest.

A resume is nothing more than a business proposal that presents a value proposition to a buyer. If you have to take more than one page to explain why your value meets their need, you are not focused enough on what the employer needs. Someone else who might not be as qualified as you, just more focused, is more likely to get the job. Tough love, sorry everyone, but I gotta be on the real like Snoop.

Many people include information about volunteering and hobbies. Unless you won the Olympics or the national math league championship, leave it off. They do not really care that you design porcelain owls and sell them on Ebay. This information is often cluttering and annoys the reader subconsciously. You also want to be careful how much you divulge about your personal life. Writing that you volunteer for your church, for example, might subject you to religious discrimination. You’ll never know because they will think of another reason that you weren’t considered for the job. That’s why HR people exist.

The resume contest winner’s resume was full of results and benefits, not just features. An example of a feature is “MBA in corporate finance from Columbia” or “Oversaw Revenues in Excess of $6M.“ When you talk about your features, the first thing an employer thinks is, “great, how much is this going to cost me.” Imagine that your car broken down and you go to the dealership and the salesperson bombards you with all this mumbo jumbo about how the car has heated seats and voice activated windshield wipers when all you really need is an engine that works and four wheels that spin. See? You’ve talked yourself out of a deal and failed to hit on the hot button of what they are sitting there looking at you for.

It makes you much more attractive if you talk about results and how they benefited the company in concrete terms. Some examples are below:

    • Exceeded Client Retention Target Rates while managing a portfolio of the firm’s largest and most prestigious assets to drive bottom line revenue upwards by 50%
    • Consistently Recognized for Superior Performance in resolving complex service issues and used this skill to build 7 new successful relationships with key vendors.

Some people like to use a “objective” line at the top of their resume and write something like “I want to find a position in finance where I can use my analytical skills in complex valuations.” First of all, I’m not a fan of cluttering a resume with information about your personal dreams and goals, or what you are seeking to get out of a job. They could care less about what you want to be when you grow up. They are not there to be your mom or dad or friend and make sure that you get enough rest and fluids when you have a cold. If you do include some kind of a summary or objective statement, describe what is in it for them. As I said, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Why can’t they live without you? Why are they lost beyond hope without you? In other words, put your value proposition there (why they want you) instead of why you want them.

I have several more comments but this blog is getting too long to be a blog so I’ll finish up my analysis in tomorrow’s blog. Stay tuned everyone and thanks again for reading!

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