Want to know how to get your resume to the TOP of the pile? Read and learn-

The average hiring manager is totally overworked, overwhelmed and looking for ways to get home to his family. Most likely he doesn’t want to spend the time to do the proper due diligence needed to find the perfect candidate for the job. He doesn’t have time for the standard three rounds of interviews. He wants to fill the job, now-one person, one interview, one time and Bam! it’s a done deal!

That’s the hiring manager’s dream. Here’s his reality…

He goes through his stack of fifty resumes and spends approximately thirty seconds on each. He separates them into three piles: “No” and “Maybe but I Hope Not” and finally “Yes.” Only then does he go back and actually read the “Yes” pile. That’s right, after he separate the resumes, he reads them. So if you want the job, you need to end up in the “Yes” pile. How do you do it?


Be Specific – Give the hiring manager all of the information he needs. Don’t think that if my job title is A, then he must know that I do XYZ. Don’t Assume Anything – hit him between the eyes with a two by four!

The reality is, that most hiring managers won’t spend the time with someone if they have questions about their qualifications. They won’t even call up to ask the questions. If you want to get the interview, be specific: outline your experience, responsibilities and qualifications. Don’t leave any room for error or misinterpretation. Any attempt to “broaden” your background to land more interviews could misfire. Instead of more interviews, you could end up with none.


Avoid the “Objectives” Trap – Objectives can be dangerous if they are not worded absolutely perfectly for the job you are interested in. You are much better off using a brief two or three sentence Career Summary that succinctly details the highlights of your experience. Only about 20% of resume readers look at the “Objectives” section. And those that do are usually sticklers for details. If your Objective reads “engineering management” and you apply for a “senior staff engineer” position, you could be out of the race before it starts because of a slight difference in terminology. Stick with the Career Summary and make sure you get considered for all the right positions.


Format DOES matter -It is important for the people who are reading your resume to be able to quickly get a mental picture of your experience and put it in context. That way they have the information they need to make a decision.

The most effective resume format is the Chronological format. This makes it much easier for the Hiring Manager to visualize who you are and what you’ve done. Following in the “be specific” vein, give a brief one-sentence description of each company that you have worked for as shown in the following example:


Hodge Podge Toy Company
A $50 million specialty toy company, Memphis TN

Follow this with a four or five sentence Job Description in paragraph form, then use three or four bullet points highlighting specific accomplishments.

There is no reason to put months into the date chronology. It is perfectly acceptable to put only years. And as an added bonus, most of the little holes in your work history will magically disappear with this style.

The Job Description section is your chance to paint a picture of your responsibilities so that the Hiring Manager can visualize what you have done and can do. The best way to help this visualization is to take him through your job process-from start to finish. Make sure you specifically describe key points in the process.

For instance, if you are a Product Development Manager, at what point do you first get your hands on a product? Is it in brainstorming? If so, start there. Are you driving the product development process, meeting timelines or keeping and eye on certain cost parameters? Do you supervise designers? Are they in-house or outside contractors? Do you coordinate with outside model shops? Are you responsible for engineering or is that a separate department that you must coordinate with? Do you work with licensors on design approvals? Do you coordinate with Asian factories by fax or email? Do you travel there?

If you are in sales, be sure to state what distribution channels you are selling to. Also list the top five accounts you were personally responsible for in each job you had and put those account names in bold type. Those accounts are the most important piece of information a hiring manager will look for when filling a sales position. If you don’t list them, you go directly to the “Maybe” pile-you do NOT pass “Go”-and you WILL find yourself at the same old job the next morning.

3-4 Bullet Points -These should succinctly summarize specific accomplishments that you made while at each position. Where possible, cite figures, percentages and results. As you move chronologically back through your career, you can be less detailed. The further back you go the more concise you can be. Give lots of information on the most recent ten years; prior you to that you can shorten it up.

Functional resumes are almost always a bad idea. After asking themselves “What is this guy trying to hide?”, most Hiring Managers flip right to the back to where your work history is and may not even read the rest. They make it difficult for the reader to visualize what you did, when and on what scale. It’s very hard to put all of the information in context without knowing: what was company he worked for? What was his position? And when did he work there? Leaving the Hiring Manager with too many questions means that you won’t make it into the “Yes” pile, even if you may be the perfect person for the job.

Yes, it is going to be difficult to fit this all on one page, so don’t even try! A resume of one and a half to two pages is perfectly acceptable. But don’t make it any longer than two pages – they will never get read.


No Room For Error – Hiring Managers want employees who are detail oriented. If you don’t do it for yourself, why should they expect that you will do it for them? Therefore, spelling counts. Every word on your resume and in your cover letter better be letter-perfect. This means do more than spell check. Spell check doesn’t catch every spelling error. For instance,” manger” is a word in the dictionary, but it is doubtful that you really are the Marketing Manger. I’ve seen manager misspelled as “manger” at least 100 times. Don’t make the same mistake! If you are repeating the same word often, get a thesaurus. And try to stay away from contractions in your resume. It is still one of the few written documents around where grammar, spelling and propriety COUNT!


Two Heads Are Better Than One – Once you’ve think you are done with your resume, give it to about five friends or colleagues that you trust and respect. Ask them to review it with a fine-toothed comb. Encourage them to mark it up, check spelling, punctuation and most importantly make suggestions. Ask them the hard questions: Is your writing clear? Are you getting your points across? Are you droning on too long about a relatively minor point? Did you leave anything out? Is there a better way to say something?


Make It Professional – Once you have a final copy of your resume ready to go, get it professionally printed on white or ivory paper. Your resume will be clean, sharp and easier to read. Gray paper will give your resume less definition and make it harder to read. Also, take the time to e-mail an electronic copy of your resume to a friend to insure that the margins and pages set up correctly-about 30% of all electronic resumes do not, so adjust accordingly.

Now, you are ready! Remember that your goal is to get into as many “YES” piles as possible. It’s better to be certain that when a select few Hiring Managers are looking for someone with your unique mix of skills and experiences that they can say, without hesitation, “This is the person I need.”

Written by Tom Keoughan
©2001 CPR Group, Inc.