Running the high hurdles

Published on Jan 16, 2022 by Matt Bud, The FENG
Resume Writing

Between reviewing new member applications and going over candidates for assignments with The FECG, I spend a lot of time reviewing resumes.

What continues to amaze and astound me is how difficult most folks make determining the key elements of their background. Basic stuff, like where they have worked and for how long, where they got their degrees, what industries they have worked in, and from time to time, even where they live – all require reading between the lines.

Unlike most resume reviewers, I wasn’t born yesterday. (I also am not as old as the hills, but I have been around the block a few times.) Having “wasted” my life reading The Wall Street Journal and earlier in my career, Fortune magazine, the names of most firms have a familiar ring and I can retrieve from memory if the industry is a fit to what we are working on at the moment.

But, what about the low paid screeners engaged by corporations and search firms? Do they fare as well? My guess is no.

When it comes to the obligation to communicate, to borrow a legal term, YOU are the burdened party. Whether or not your resume “sings” pharmaceutical or M&A or whatever the person doing the screening is looking for at the moment is pretty much up to your writing skills.

The “pain” of writing a resume is evident in most of the work I see. And, writing a good resume requires you writing and rewriting and rewriting again, even when it hurts. A sharp electronic pencil crossing out unnecessary words and strengthening ideas beats a smaller type font and wider margins any day of the week.

In our “quarter inch” society, we do a lot of “channel surfing.” The sheer volume of information coming our way requires it. I particularly admire those who write 3 to 5 word summaries of TV shows. Talk about powerful writers. Now if only that stuff could be bottled and sold.

Don’t ever confuse the “full story” with the story you have time to tell based on your audience’s attention span. During my nearly 10 year career in advertising I learned that lesson many times as my boss would walk out of my office without saying goodbye because he had heard the first 3 words of my sentence. (Even chasing him down the hall didn’t do any good.) I trained myself to be brief and wait to see if more was needed. My goal was to ensure that the full idea I wanted communicated got across, and then if a further explanation was desired by my “audience” I had more I could tell.

In much the same way, one must understand that the resume used for submitting when answering job postings NEEDS to be brief (no more than 2 pages) and highly structured for easy reading. The resume you bring in person can be longer, and in some cases, MUCH longer. However, it still needs to be well written and include a basic structure, but you can “blather on” a bit more.

Your job in responding to postings is to run the high hurdles without knocking them down so you will be CALLED for an interview. If you don’t make that first cut, there won’t be a second chance.

Get into the pile that is going to give you a chance to compete in a face to face interview by polishing that most important piece of communication – your resume. You should never consider it finished, nor in this electronic world do you need to. Write, rewrite and rewrite again.

After all, none of us is in shape to be running the “high hurdles” forever. Having a job is a lot less exhausting. (Well, at least it is more financially rewarding.)

Regards, Matt