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For Job Seekers Guilty of Having a 3+ Page Resume

Posted by Nancy Gober

Scanning resumes at a Cleared Job FairIf you’re guilty as charged, think of your resume as a sales brochure.

Way too often we still see candidates for jobs submitting resumes that go on and on. Six or seven pages is not uncommon. These lengthy resumes often also contain big blocks of paragraphs, filled with technical jargon and acronyms, in 8 or 9 point type, that are daunting to read.

There can be some justification for submitting a resume that is longer than the commonly suggested 2-page format. For instance a somewhat longer resume may be warranted for a senior level position or one for which you need to demonstrate 20+ years of experience, especially if a recruiter is looking to see if you tick the boxes for a particular contract that requires a lengthy work history description. But even here be cautious of a too-long, irrelevant 5- or 6- page resume.

For the vast majority of cleared job seekers, however, the above example is not the case. Submitting a multi-page, irrelevant, and too-small-type resume will drive the recruiter to the next candidate’s resume.  Here’s why:

1.  The problem for recruiters is lengthy resumes are hard to read and even harder to figure out if the candidate is a possible fit for a position.

2.  The problem for cleared job seekers and transitioning military is that these rambling, hard-to-read, unfocused, and irrelevant resumes rarely get read. The candidate is out of the running before they even begin to compete.

The Cause of the Problem

Why do job seekers still produce these lengthy resumes that don’t get read?

Based on discussions with thousands of cleared job seekers the answer to this question seems attributable to two factors:  Misunderstanding on the job seeker’s part of how hiring happens, and a lack of knowledge about what makes a resume effective.

1.  Misunderstanding Hiring: They’re looking for you. Well maybe.

When a recruiter searches skill sets on a job board such as ClearedJobs.Net, they typically get back many results. Recruiters just don’t have the time to plow through pages and pages of dense paragraphs on a resume. These overly-long resumes may be seen as unresponsive to needs and requirements cited by the employer. After a few seconds, the recruiter or manager moves on to the next job seeker.

2.  What makes a resume effective?

A resume is effective if it is relevant to the job applied for, focused on the job’s requirements, and shows examples of the job seeker utilizing the required skills and knowledge with results, i.e., Accomplishment Statements.

A resume should tell the reader if you are a possible fit without too much work on the reader’s part. If it gains enough attention from the recruiter or hiring manager to get them to want to learn more about you, and results in an e-mail or call, your resume has done its job.

The Solution

There’s a better way.  Learn to think differently about you and your resume.  Here’s how to produce a resume that sells you:

Step 1: Realize that when you are on the job market, you are in sales.  You are selling your abilities as possible solutions to employers’ problems and needs.

How do you sell you?

●  Identify what makes you desirable, and therefore employable, as a potential candidate, and

●  Enlist the aid of your sales tools.  For the job seeker, a core sales tool (although not your only sales tool) is your resume.

Step 2: Think of your resume as your Sales Brochure.  Just as salespeople use their product sales brochures to promote their sales by highlighting the benefits their products provide, use your resume to accomplish the same thing. Think of it as your sales brochure. It won’t get you the job, but it can open the door to opportunity.

To illustrate, think about a salesperson of a familiar product such as a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner salesperson is going to talk to the customer about (1) the customer’s needs, (2) the tasks the vacuum cleaner can perform (features) that satisfies these needs, and (3) how it can make the customer’s life easier (benefits).

Similarly, a job seeker should focus on the same things.  Learn to think, talk, and write about your work experience in a way that focuses on:

(1)  The needs and requirements of your customer – the prospective employer,

(2)  Tasks or duties you perform that satisfy the employers needs and requirements, and

(3)  How your performance of these duties made the life of previous employers easier, i.e, better and/or less problematic.

Step 3: Now, capture this information on your resume.

●  Put down on paper the skills, strengths, abilities, knowledge, education, and expertise you possess that relate to and satisfy the needs/requirements of your potential customer – the employer.

•  List tasks or duties you have performed that illustrate your experience in satisfying these requirements. These become bullet points under each job title.

●  Show results. Also in your bullet points.

Voilà! You have a resume that sells you.  Your resume has become your sales brochure. Your sales-oriented resume shows that you meet the needs and requirements that are stated by a potential employer, provides evidence of you doing so in previous jobs, and sells them on the possibility that you may be a candidate worth talking to.

Is your resume too long? Does it need other work?  Log in to your ClearedJobs.Net account now and start editing!

Nancy GoberNancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected]. Follow Nancy on Twitter @AfterJobClub.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 7:00 am

One thought on “For Job Seekers Guilty of Having a 3+ Page Resume”

  1. Interesting article. My experience is that the infamous one-page resume is for (a) inexperienced HR recruiters, and (b) hiring managers with short attention spans. True, many of the admins in HR who usually do the first resume sort are merely word-matchers – they don’t know the company’s business, and they are only matching words in the job description to words (duties, credentials, technologies) on the resume. I keep a one-pager as a first approach, but also maintain a more detailed (4-page) resume that actually cites the experience, customers, technologies, and challenges that might a hiring manager might be looking for. If I lead with the one-pager (job posting sites, job fairs) and get called in for an interview with the hiring manager, my first question is, “Would you like to see my real resume?” Each one has said yes, and has read it with interest.

    Bottom line: Both as a candidate and as a hiring manager, I have found that the one-page resume may be sufficient to get past the first or second cut. But without substance and relevant experience, the candidate won’t get past the third cut. The experienced candidate who is satisfied with only a short resume has to decide if he or she wants to work for a manager who has a short attention span.

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