Monthly Archives: January 2010

Resumes: Your story is still not understood?

Resumes should tell a story.   Stories help create a mental image of you doing the job.  Rather than push a menu, you need to show people what you can cook.  It is easy to add actions and results, but many forget to show how we got there.  

What is the easy fix?  Add the people to your story.  Who were the others on your project?  Who benefited from your actions? What were the job titles of these people?  If you start telling the story, we will better understand what you do.


Weak:  Developed training content for sales and partner audiences.

Better:   Developed training content for internal sales and external sales partners.  Collaborated with subject matter experts, sales pilot teams, product marketing, and sales leadership to align designs to business needs.

Why?  If you don’t paint the picture, they may get the wrong image.  Within the first 10 seconds, they need to visualize you doing the job.  Otherwise you are just a stack of key words and tasks.

Getting No to Yes: Age Discrimination

The first step for “getting No to Yes” is to define what they really mean.   People will rarely say “you are too old (or young)”.  They may say, “you are too experienced.”   Ask them for more details before you defend.  Be sure to phrase questions in a way to make them comfortable being honest with you.

What are they really saying?   Really?  Too Experienced?  Why would this be a concern?  Hold your breath and give them a chance to clarify.

Help them provide details if they do not.  Ask one more question:  Do you mean I am too expensive?  Is it because the manager is junior and I might be more senior?  Are they afraid I will leave for a better job later?    How did I compare with the other candidate on paper?

Reconfirm the actual problem to solve.  Ask another question or two:  Umm.. too expensive?  Is this a budget issue?  Do you mean the job listing requires you to pay me more based on my years?  What if I was a contractor without benefits, would this change things?

Offer a credible solution. Someone at my last speaking event (send me your name) told a story on how someone handled the “you will leave later” response.  You could say something like:  “I do not plan to leave.  I want to spend more time with my kids/family and no longer chase those high level corporate jobs.”

Another idea..Tackle it earlier.   If you know they are thinking it, you should address it early before it gets too late to defend.  Use humor and say, “Do you think this balding gray-haired guy is a good fit?”

 Send your comments:   Have a success story about the age issue? What were they really saying?  How did you win them over?

Networking: What Really Needs to Happen

Why make time for networking?  It is important to understand business challenges, check out the competition, and reconfirmed your value.  Networking allows you to practice your pitch and get feedback on resumes.

People say you will find your job through other people.  However I found two of my past jobs through public job boards.  If you are expecting to web surf for jobs, you still need to network to win over the competition.  For one job, the recruiter told me she received 400 resumes.  After throwing out the unqualified people, her team had me in a stack of 100.  Next, I moved to the top 5.  Without a doubt, I won the job because I did my homework and could communicate my value better than the competition. I learned valuable info by networking with others.

Resumes: The First Pass

Flipping through 50 resumes, I recall the talented people who shared a moment with me to discuss their challenges in this market.  The stack contains the brightest stars, the heavy hitters, and the people behind the curtain helping the “great wizard.”  You would never know it by looking at their resumes.

About 90% of the time, I say what a tough customer would say to their vendors:

1) You are too vanilla … everyone says this.

2) You are “holding back” … why do I care?

3) I still do not know what you do ( or want to do).

I could provide lots of advice on formats, key words, and job boards.  However I will let the other blogs and career networking groups tell you.

You are too vanilla?  I had coffee with a product marketing manager friend.  Within 30 seconds, I told him, “this resume looks like every product marketing guy I have seen.”  I convinced him to realign the resume to emphasize his sales and finance background which other resumes lacked.   He immediately got more responses.

Attempting to appeal to everyone, others create “vanilla” resumes by listing too many skills.  A few years ago, I knew some techies who would mow Bill Gates’ lawn just to work with Microsoft.  However if you look open to anything, you appear to have less expertise.  You can always re-do your resume if Bill’s lawn job gets posted.

Don’t hold back … show more value.  Remember sales professionals have no problem bragging, while others are modest.  Talk to people in your field and find what impresses them.  Select a few of your best skills and show them how this helps their business and its people.

 I still do not know what you do?  You might tell me that the hiring manager will know.  Is this enough? Consider all the hands who touch your resume to get you there.  There are a few things which could get your hired faster.

First, know your audiences.  Spend some time with people outside your expertise area and see what a fresh look can tell you about your resume.  Create separate resumes based on these audiences.  Get in the door with the junior recruiter and others who might know less about your job role and your industry.

Second, less is more.  The human brain can only retain 3-4 things in short term memory. People only take a few seconds to scan a resume.  If they cannot picture the person for the job, they move to the next one.  Reduce the number of messages and have the entire resume build on these. 

Third, tell a story. Rather than provide a long shopping list, tell me what I can cook.   Sales people love stories because it allows multiple facts to be bundled in an easy-to-remember package.  When people tell stories, the reader can also picture better how something fits into their business.

How do you tell a story?  I would practice talking about your resume.  Often the pieces that help people know what you do (or want to do) are left off the resume.  Stories also force us to define the job we really want.

Telling the story on 1-2 pages can be difficult.  I plan to spend more time on this area in future blogs.