Ten Secrets of a Successful Résumé

resumesGuest Blog by Pam Condie


The most important thing to keep in mind when building a résumé is its purpose:  answering the employer’s need for you to solve a problem he/she has that can’t be solved with his/her current staff.  That is the employer’s only interest in you.  Focus your résumé to answer his/her question.  That is what will get your foot in the door for a job interview.

  1.  Make your résumé long enough to tell your story but tell it succinctly.  There is a myth out in the ether that a résumé will not be read if it is longer than one page.  Wrong!  I have seen many résumés that had the life edited out of them because they were squeezed into a single page of small print – not appealing to the hiring manager.
  2.  When I worked in human resources I often found that hiring was a messy, frequently changing process.  Cover letters and résumés could get separated, particularly if we had received many responses to a job opening.  Be certain that all pages of your résumé as well as your cover letter have your name and contact information in the footer of each page.  At the bottom of your first page write “continued on next page” if you have a second page.   Otherwise the reader will not know if you have finished writing or if he/she should look around for a missing second page.
  3.  As they teach in accounting classes, “Check your work, check it and check it again.” Check for spelling and English errors.  A careless error can turn a reader off and damage your credibility as someone who pays attention to details.  Don’t depend on a software spelling feature to catch all mistakes.  The engineer who wrote the program was most likely not an English major.
  4.  Most human beings are lazy readers.  Be kind to them.  Make your font 11 or 12 point.  Smaller fonts are harder on the eyes.  Larger looks amateurish.
  5.  Times Roman is the most popular font in the US and allows more information per square inch than most others.  Pick it or one that is neither unusual nor fussy looking.  Keep things simple.
  6.  Since most people resist reading, especially reading long sentences and paragraphs, divide your résumé into smaller batches of information to invite the reader in.
  7.  The objective is the first piece of information at the top of the first page. A clear objective helps the human resources department track your document more easily.  It answers the employer’s question, “What do you want from me?”  Keep the objective brief, to the point and possibly slightly broad, i.e., “Director of Sales.” Keep in mind that you have an electronic copy of your résumé and can tweak the objective if you need to for other job openings.   (Connie disagrees with the use of objectives and feels you should have 3-5 bullet points that show the things that you can do, and like to do, that the employer needs for this job. Louise Goeckel, Let’s Go Forward.biz, suggests a headline like “Director of Sales known for _________ with talent in ________.”)
  8.  The first third of your first page is the most valuable real estate on your résumé.  The latest study shows that recruiters spend a maximum of six seconds screening your résumé for further review. State your case there in a career summary, the snapshot of your career.
  9.  Unless you are in the field of education, medicine or diplomacy or you are a new graduate, your education goes near the end of your résumé. If you had a college minor subject or a scholarship or an academic honor, do include it.
  10.  Community activities are nice to include at the end of the résumé. They demonstrate industry and the physical and mental energy for a balanced life. Be careful of mentioning activities with controversial groups here.  You never know where people’s prejudices lie in spite of what they say. (Connie disagrees.  Only include if you KNOW that the hiring manager does the same thing.)


Pam Condie is a former HR person and a Certified Professional Resume Writer who works with people from all industries to clarify and write their next resume.  She can be reached at www.pamcondieresumes.com

What is a Keyword?


Job and key concept

Job and key concept

From  Dictionary.com



  1. A word that serves as a key, as to the meaning of another word, a sentence, passage, or the like.
  2. A word used to encipher or decipher a cryptogram, as a pattern for a transposition procedure or the basis for a complex substitution.
  3. Also called catchwordLibrary Science. A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of a document or other item being indexed, used as the index entry.
  4. Digital Technology. a word used to classify or organize digital content, or to facilitate an online search for information: Search the database for the keyword “Ireland.”.


The internet, search engines and Applicant Tracking Systems (where the resumes and applications go when you apply for a job online) all use keywords to sort all that data. 


Your keywords are the words in your online profiles, your resume, your background and future that serve as a key to the meaning of the work you have done and will do.  They are also the words that will help a hiring manager, or recruiter, decipher what you can actually do and how you would fit into the company.  AND, if they are the correct ones, they are the words that the computer will use to allow you to pass through the “Black Hole” of the ATS.


Remember that lingo in one company may not match the lingo in another so remember to look for synonyms.  If you have a cross-industry job (accounting, HR, etc.) remember that different industries may also have different lingo.


You will use “your” keywords whenever you look for a new job or enroll in a new online networking group.  The people in your “tribe” (as Seth Grodin says) will use the same keywords.  People who don’t will not understand you as well. 


Your keywords will describe your skills, expertise, and tasks.  You will use them to describe the software and equipment you use.  If you are an expert in one kind of equipment, you will be a better fit at companies that use that equipment than you would be at companies that use the competitor’s equipment but a better fit than someone who doesn’t know how to use either. 


You should have your keywords somewhere on your computer or in a notebook so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time.  You will need to add to it, reorder the list (by what you want to do next or never again), take some things off that you haven’t done for so long that they are outdated.  But you won’t have to try to think it up fresh every time. 


You will use these words over and over in Summaries of what you do, in “dragon-slaying stories” of your accomplishments, in conversations with networking partners, in interviews.  These are “your” words.  The people who share them with you are “your tribe”.  And many will become your friends – the people who “get” you. 



Do You Believe in Magic?


By Duff Watkins, Cornerstone International – Australia

Guest Blogger

As an executive search consultant (a “head hunter”), I’m regularly asked what’s the best way for a person to find new employment and as a former psychotherapist, I’m always wondering why  the truth doesn’t sink in.

A surprising number of adults believe in magic when it comes to searching for employment.  Too many people are “mired in myth” when it comes to job-hunting.

Beware of these 6 myths that produce misery!

1) Recruiters find jobs for people.

No. Recruiters find people for jobs not jobs for people.  In the world of executive search the cold reality is, if you’re good at your work, and if your skills are currently being sought, you’ll be found whether you’re employed or not.

2) Recruiters are always looking for candidates.

False. Executive search is an exercise in research not chance.  Getting a job by simply sending your unsolicited resume to an executive search firm is about as likely as getting hit by a piece of Halley’s Comet.  Recruiters do not spend much time with people who cannot purchase their services because recruiters are busy either completing their assignments or selling their services to potential clients.  Failure to do either is commercial suicidal.

3) “Head hunters” can help.

Maybe, but it largely depends on whether you have a good personal relationship with the consultant.  A recruiter’s task is to sell his services to potential clients and then complete assignments on behalf of those clients.  Your task is to find a job that suits you.  Unless there is a genuine benefit to the consultant to speak or meet with you, why should they?

4) Consultants know where all the job vacancies are.

They don’t.  Nobody does.  Consultants –when they’re fortunate enough to get the work– handle few assignments at any time.  For every 1 job vacancy being handled by a consultant, there are probably 80 being filled through other means.  Fact: 80% of all job vacancies are unadvertised.  You’re just as likely as a recruiter to discover job vacancies if you look.

5) Recruitment companies have many jobs “on their books”.

There are no “books”; there are no “jobs”; there are only job vacancies, some of which a consultant may know about, and a few of which they may handle.  Consultants do not have a stockpile of job vacancies which they dole out parsimoniously to unemployed people.

6) Somebody else can tell you the work for which you’re best suited.

Your life, your career, your interests and your job search is your responsibility and no one else’s.  No recruiter, “head hunter” or consultant is competent to direct your life.

Here are 5 non-magical ways of seeking employment successfully:

1) 40 Hours a Week.

Most people simply have no idea how much work is required to obtain a job.  Getting a good job requires effort: 40 hours (minimum) per week.  If you’re not investing that amount of time, you’re wasting it.  There is no substitute for “hard yakka.”

2) 20 seconds / 50 words

Before calling a consultant, make sure you have something to say.  If you can’t say in 20 seconds (or less) and 50 words (or less) exactly what work you want to do and where you want to do it, then you haven’t thought deeply enough about your career.

3) Construct A Network

“Networking” (ie, establishing and using personal contacts) is essential when seeking new employment.  The network of people who can help you in your job search is constructed not inherited.  You’re not born with it; you have to go out and meet the people you need to know.  Is this easy?  No, if it was easy everyone would already have the job they want.

4) Give The Takeaway

In marketing terms a “takeaway” is what you want the other person to take away from meeting you. Your “takeaway” is your distinguishing characteristic; it’s why others will remember you; it identifies what you can do for them.  In commercial terms, it is the reason why employers may want to meet with you, interview you or hire you.  If you can’t identify your “takeaway,” you haven’t done your homework.

5) Magic = Tragic

If you believe that worthwhile employment will magically come your way through the efforts of any person other than yourself, you’re tragically mistaken.  Belief in such magic is really a reluctance to think for one’s self.  Job seekers who believe in magic think that it’s easier for everybody but them.  They think that getting a good job is a matter of luck, fate, karma, planetary alignments, being young enough, being old enough, having the right connections etc. The truth is, it’s mostly a matter of working hard and smart.

Do you believe in magic?

The Psychological Bottom Line is this:  some people refuse to think deeply about what they want from work (or life) because it’s too difficult.  And it is difficult!  It can be extremely difficult to figure out what you really want from work or life.  It would be great if someone else could figure it out for you and then tell you what to do.  Truth is, no one can help you until you decide what you really want to do.  That’s the “bad news.”

The “good news” is that deep down in your heart you already know exactly what you want.  

It’s just buried, hidden, concealed from consciousness, therefore you can’t articulate it– yet.  The trick is to drag your deepest desires up to the surface of your awareness.  There are several ways of doing this but here’s the simplest: sit down, think hard, and write down what you enjoy doing.  Until you’re clear on that, there’s little point in asking consultants for advice.

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