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Monday, March 27, 2017

That Neon Yellow … No

A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that he was updating his resume. While he sensed no immediate concern about his job, several items about his work life had changed. And he felt it would be good to be prepared.

Actually it makes sense. If it’s been five years or so since you had a resume tuneup, you might be surprised at the changes. Hopefully, your work skills have increased and improved. You may have had promotions. Responsibilities may have expanded and you have some specific results to champion. Moreover, the “referrals” you listed—both personal and professional—might need updating. Some may no longer be the right fit. Their contact information may have changed. You get the picture.

Most of us who have screened a fair amount of resumes in our lives can usually find the home runs fairly quickly. Certain things stand out. And it isn’t bright neon yellow paper.

Many resumes lead with “Objective.” Often, a generic description is given such as, “I’m looking for a creative, progressive company where I can utilize my skills in a team setting to help achieve maximum performance for the organization.” That, of course, means nothing. You’re really looking for a job. And if you are tops in a given field, you’ll be recruited or you’ll connect with a headhunter who’ll help you land your next great job!

The vast majority of job applicants are best served by dishing up reality. And nothing says it better than prior results. So, very close to the top of your resume, those should show up.

For fun, let’s imagine I get a resume that starts with the objective, “I like to win. I like results. I prefer a company that wants to win and hires results-driven people. Your company, (named XYZ), seems like a good fit. Let’s talk about why.”

First off, all organizations like winning. And prefer to hire winners. They also want people who are results focused. That is the point of giving you a job. And thirdly, they want someone who senses that they would do well in their culture. So you offer up front to explain why you are that person.

Next, “A sampling of success from my previous assignments.” Listed bullet points are most effective. Just make sure they are truthful. And impressive.

Finally, I’d recommend going over a good list of resume no-no’s. You’ll find these in the article “Scrub These Words and Phrases from Your Resume Right Now” that appeared in Glassdoor and Fast Company.

That list includes basics such as not mentioning times you were “unemployed” (which should be obvious), checking for misspelled words, and using words such as “hardworking.” Generally, companies are not interested in lazy hires. One employment professional claims words like “synergy” and “wheelhouse” are completely overused. Add to that list “ninja” and “rockstar.”

The last no-no on this list was to avoid the term “results-oriented.” And I admit that is weak descriptor. BUT…results really are important and, as mentioned earlier, results-driven sends a stronger message.

But the best advice comes when you pursue another job—and get it! If that happens, focus on the real work that must be done. True champions stay on point and avoid drifting, lest they succumb to diversions. Jesus of Nazareth told His followers, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, TLB) Most business leaders feel the same way.

So happy resume updating. And save the screaming neon yellow paper to promote your garage sale.

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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