20 seconds

One week ago, my résumé stunk to high heaven. Now, I think I have a winner.

I went to a Résumé Preparation Workshop at JobLeaders yesterday, taught by an instructor named Apollo Kennedy who likes music from the Rocky series of films. I can see why. It’s very motivational music. Something about it makes you want to put your all into a workout at the gym. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Mr. Kennedy is a very candid sort who tells things like it is. He calls the modern process of job hunting a “dirty game” with all sorts of discrimination in it. Age, sex, race. You name it, it is still secretly practiced. You need all the advantages you can possibly shoehorn into your résumé.

Here’s one of the really eye-opening things he told me about résumés. On the average, HR managers spend about 15 to 20 seconds sizing up each résumé. If my résumé doesn’t tell them something useful that I can do for the company by then, into the round file I go. I figure in about 20 seconds, the HR manager is going to be lucky to get halfway down the first page, so the things that tell him the most about me had better be right at the top.

Mr. Kennedy’s advice: lose the Career Objective paragraph that your dad put at the top of his résumé. It is plodding drivel that tells HR what he already knows, and on top of it, it sounds selfish, telling what you want from the job before you even have it.

Instead, put in a short bulleted list called the Summary of Qualifications. That way, you’re telling them in less than 20 seconds, to borrow from the UPS ads, what brown can do for you.

Right up underneath of it, I put in the Relevant Experience, which tells what I did in the call center. I put down what I did as a short bulleted list, kicking off each list item with an “action” verb that HR managers are so fond of reading. Things like analyzed, prioritized, and coached.

The Employment History is located past the halfway point of the first page, so only the HR managers who are genuinely interested in me will get that far. I’ve written short little lines that cover the last seven years of my work history. This concerns me, because I’ve had to include several years of security officer work. Would that work come up in the interview. Would I be asked why I left the security officer profession? Would I shoot myself in the foot trying to explain it?

I’ll have to ask the folks here at JobLeaders whether that would be a liability.

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