When I Read Your Résumé…
When I Read Your Résumé, This is What I See
As President of The Barrett Group, my business day starts each morning with the onerous task of reviewing each and every résumé submitted to our website, www.careerchange.com . The number is a reasonably consistent range of 40-60 submissions daily. I do this personally for two reasons: (1) I believe that every professional who has taken the time to review our service as outlined on our website and decides to send us a résumé deserves my immediate and personal review; and (2) I believe I am the most appropriate person on our team to decide which of our Client Intake Specialists will work with a particular career changer.
So how many résumés have I read? I’ve been President of the company since 2005, but I’ve been working with all the clients since 1993, so it’s been quite a few. How long does it take me to reach a decision about who and how best to deal with a particular job seeker? Rarely longer than a minute.
My criteria for reviewing submissions is not so different from HR professionals, executive recruiters or hiring managers. My first question is always: what professional level are we looking at, here? If this can’t be answered in a five second glance of company names, titles held and quantified responsibilities/accomplishments (dollars and percentages that align and instantly give me a picture of this person’s influence and reach across the organization), we’re looking at a defective résumé. Unless the person is presenting him/herself as a résumé expert, I would not be dissuaded from looking further.
Conversely, a beautifully formatted document presented with aplomb and dripping with hip buzzwords tells me this person had the wherewithal to have their documentation redone by a professional. Beyond this one fact, we have learned nothing about the person. For all we know, a job hopper who has managed to get fired from five positions in five years is now being marketed as an ambitious industry ladder climber. This is probably a good career strategy for this individual, but craftily engineered documentation does not necessarily indicate ambition, or even competence.
A college degree suggests the person can finish something. Honors could mean they test well, which can be a good thing. A military background, at a minimum, prompts me to believe the person can take orders and follow a program. If a person has been in charge of large organizations, with multiple locations, one can assume a level of organization and leadership. However, people rarely describe their professional failures in detail on their résumés, and rightfully so. This is why, after I have reviewed the documentation as sent and determined there are compelling reasons to consider their candidacy as a new client, the selected Client Intake Specialist will contact them directly to arrange a series of personal interviews. These meetings tend to bring out the full story of why our potential client is having problems with the search process, and how we can best be of assistance.
Spelling errors, hilarious mistakes, ill-advised photos, and curious omissions? Rampant, I see them every morning, occasionally spilling the second cup of coffee when taken, yet again, by complete surprise. What I can’t see are the exaggerations and bold-faced lies rampant on these data streams of human consciousness: the statistics and publicized anecdotes tell us they’re there, but I haven’t found a filter for them yet.
My advice for you? Take a 30 second look at your current résumé and ask yourself, after you’ve turned it over: do I know what this person does, what they’ve accomplished to date in their professional career, what they’re qualified to do moving forward, and what they want to do from here? My offer to you? Send it to me. I’ll let you know what I see, and what I think; you can take it from there.
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