Does Your Resume #Fail

Posted by Patra Frame

The crowd was great at the most recent Cleared Job Fair Resume Reviews. Patient, positive, networking while waiting. And most even followed the written instructions. So I saw a lot of resumes full of editing done while waiting. All good.

But the most common problems remain just that.

#1: A resume full of job descriptions but few or no achievements.

Hiring managers do not care what you were supposed to do. What they want to see is a record of achievements that are relevant to the work they need done.

So think of your successes and create bullet points that show the Situation or Task, your Actions, and the Results (STAR.) Use your past achievements that specifically relate to the job you want, the future you dream of. Even in jobs that were not obviously relevant, you have achievements that are related to the needs of the positions you seek.

#2: Over 20 years experience…

Mentioning total years of experience is worthless. It can make you seem too expensive or play into aging stereotypes. But it really doesn’t add anything valuable. Hiring managers are interested in your actual track record – what you have achieved, what growth in responsibilities and knowledge you have. Demonstrate those. Some smaller government contractors like years of experience with a specific technology or role since that makes it easier for them to screen resumes. But total years, you lose.

#3: Lack of focus

Companies are flooded with resumes. The government contracting and security cleared worlds are no exception. If you want your resume to be the one that makes it to a hiring manager’s screen, you need to understand that your resume is an advertisement designed to sell you. It is not a biography!

6 steps to a better resume

  1. Pick the job you want and the target employer.
  2. Choose the best matching information from your big master resume file for that specific job.
  3. Use the keywords for your field, the job, and the company.
  4. Show your most recent job’s achievements in more detail than older ones and dump everything more than 10-15 years ago.
  5. Omit everything that is not directly relevant to the job you want. Be ruthless!
  6. Make it easy to read: limit formatting, lots of white space, 10-12 point type.

Give the hiring manager and recruiter your BEST!

Next job fair you can give me a chance to say “This is terrific, I can only suggest a minor change at most.” I love those candidates!


This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 7:00 am

2 thoughts on “Does Your Resume #Fail”

  1. When I consider potential candidates, I want to know what they have actually done. I want to see what projects they have worked on and how they contributed, even if the project that they were working on failed disastrously.

    What I’m trying to say is that that while what you are saying is very true from a “sales” perspective, it is completely wrong from what is actually needed.

    Ultimately, I find your approach to be one that would not produce people that I want to hire. I don’t want to “sold” candidates or have candidates “marketed” to me, I want candidates that can do what I need them to do, and from years of experience, HR and recruiters simply do not understand this.

  2. Techie, I think we are saying much the same thing despite your fears. The technical managers I have worked with over decades all want to see the projects, the actual work, and the results. But they do not want to see the ones 20-30 years ago, the world has changed. They want to know, by demonstrated experience on the resume, what the person can do for them now.

    And every applicant is selling themself to each potential employer. So it is the applicant’s responsibility to learn about the company and job and demonstrate how their past achievements are of value to the current opportunity.

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