When Your Resume is Useless and When It Is Useful
After a speech, I often encounter someone from the audience who approaches me and asks: “What do you think of my resume?” I smile and ask: “What job are you applying for?” More often than not, they respond with: “Nothing in particular. I just want to know what you think of it?”

I give it a cursory look for achievement metrics and style points and usually say, “It’s fine as is; but I could give you a better critique if you were applying for a specific position”.

During my 30+ years as an executive search recruiter and going on 15 years as a full time career coach, I have seen and reviewed literally thousands of resumes –the good, the bad and the ugly.

The resumes that caught my attention were those that helped me evaluate them targeted for a specific need.

Any financial adviser will tell you that your personal assets such as a home, car, jewelry, boats, artwork etc., only have realized value on the day of sale. That is, there is a buyer for that asset and the market sets the price. There is usually one consideration in that transaction – usually money, but up until that point of sale, in reality it is not worth anything, appraisals and your emotional attachment notwithstanding.

Your background of experience and achievements clearly are considered assets (certainly you perceive them as important). However, assets, as described in the previous paragraph, those strengths and accomplishments really aren’t worth anything until they are put to use. They will be worth something when there is a buyer. In terms of job search, that buyer is an organization with a specific need, or needs, and you have the relevant qualifications to fill that need. The transaction usually takes the form of an offer of full time or part time employment. And yes, this applies to contracting as well.

What works today? It is entirely up to the job seeker to bring out in the resume their relevant qualifications that uniquely meet the buyer’s needs. In the hiring process, nothing else in your background matters. The resume must be as pertinent to the position as possible. Therefore, every resume sent out by you will be different, tailored to the specific parameters of the position for which you are applying.

QUICK TIP: never send a resume to a friend. In their desire to help you, they will subsequently send it directly in response to an ad they see. They will call you afterwards telling you about the position and that they sent your resume “un-tailored. “Sigh – the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Since we now live in a very tactical world, most organizations are interested in how you can help them in the next 6 months by increasing their revenue or making them more productive. And many of these companies are primarily interested in your job-relevant achievements since 2008. NOTE to senior execs: go back just 15 years on your resume.

In our legal system, you are innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, hire a good lawyer. During your job search process, you are assumed to be unqualified until proven qualified. It is a good investment to hire a resume writer who can articulate your achievements with the appropriate keywords.