Extreme Makeover- Resume Edition

This week’s recruiting blog topic is probably the thing I am asked about most when someone (friend or family) finds out that I’m a recruiter, especially when they are an active job seeker.  Having reviewed, scrutinized, rewritten, torn up and edited ~ 20,000 resumes over the course of my career, I am always happy to lend my advice on how to write a better resume.


The truth is most resumes are perfectly acceptable.  If you keep it simple and don’t over think it, generally you’ll have something that can get you in the door.   I’ll break down things to avoid and must-haves for any resume that will help you land that interview.


Let’s say that again.… “land that interview”.   That should be your mindset when constructing a resume:  this is a vehicle to getting an audience with the company.  You are not going to get an offer based on how fancy your resume is or how progressive the font is (Admittedly, I’m a font snob – Palatino Linotype).


An easy way to think of it is to present your experience in a way that isn’t so bad that it is ignored.   If your experience is good enough and your resume isn’t offensively bad, you should get a call/response.  I can’t tell you how many times a ‘great’ resume was a dud interview and vice versa.  It’s not everything.


With that in mind, here is my take on the standard resume components:


 Name/Contact info:


Seems pretty simple, right?  It really should be.   Sassygirl09@ or blazeoneup@ are both true email addresses we’ve seen.  No need to elaborate here.


I would include a cell phone always.  Home phones are hit or miss and if you have young kids, maybe this is just me, you’re not answering the phone until they are asleep or it’s your parents calling.








I’ve never been “wowed” by one of these.   I have, however, checked out on a few resumes where the candidate felt the need to tell me how great they were, in their opinion of course, over the course of 2 GIANT PARAGRAPHS!!!


Stick with the ‘facts’ here and what you want in less than 4 sentences.   Also, I don’t know one person on earth that would look at someone’s boasts about themselves as credible evidence or proof that it’s true.  Literally a waste of time to write how good you think you are.




School Name, Location, Degree, Year Graduated.   Period.   If your GPA was under 3.2 or more, I would just leave it off.  Every once in a while I will see a 2.5 or a 2.4 on a resume and wonder how that seemed like a good idea?


Also, when I don’t see a year listed I start wondering why it was left off and end up getting that information anyway.  Just save us the trouble and put it on there.


If you have a Bachelor’s Degree and more than 5 years of experience AND you also have an Associate’s Degree, leave off the Associates Degree.  Never put education you haven’t achieved, but it is OK to leave off certificates or education if it’s not relevant.  If you have a Bachelor’s Degree, the AS Degree is 99% not relevant.


Employment History:


Disclaimer:  I am not going to read all 30 bullet points you throw under each job.   If you are a Maintenance Manager, we have a pretty good idea of what you do.  List your number of direct reports, what your plant makes/industry and give me 3 bullet points on what you do and 2 bullet points on what impact you had.  That’s all we need.


On the flip side, with some technician or machinist roles we do not get enough information.  We understand resume writing isn’t going to be your strength, but make sure you give us a few sentences on what you do, on what type of machines and the products you make.


Personal Information:


The same person who leaves off the year they got their degree to hide their age is usually the same person who lists that they are a ‘non-smoker’, ‘proud father of two daughters’, ‘love to brew my own beer’ and ‘avid knife collector’.


I am 98% against putting personal information on a resume.  The only case where it makes sense is when it relevant to the job/company/industry.  If you are applying to a company that makes car engines and you list ‘rebuilding classic car engines’ as a hobby – I love it.  Most of the time this section is full of non-relevant / appropriate information.


Good luck with your resume writing and remember to keep it simple and relevant!  Tailor to each job and less is more.


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