Better Advice for a Better Resume

I spend countless hours surfing the Web to see what’s out there in the way of resume-writing advice and today came across several good blog articles. They all say pretty much the same things about what you should do and shouldn’t do to write a good resume and much of it is the same advice I have given, and would give, to job-seekers who want to write their own resumes. So, with all of this good advice out there, complete with step-by-step instruction, do’s and dont’s, and examples, why are folks still writing and sending out bad resumes?

Resume-Writing Advice Isn’t Enough

I know people are writing bad resumes because I see them — people send their resumes to me desperately looking for a re-do. It occurred to me that even with all the good advice, instruction, and direction, there has to be something missing — a universal reason people still struggle to write a good resume. And then I wondered, is it because people just don’t know how to write?

Not write as in ‘read and write’, like literacy, but as in don’t know how to form descriptive sentences that tell a story. I think I might be on to something. I think many people can tell a good story — they just can’t write a good story.

Case in point. I engaged a client in a verbal Q & A during which she launched into a passionate description of what she had done and learned on her various jobs and how she used what she learned on one job to apply to another job and, using descriptive words and explanations, gave me a pretty strong visual representation of her actually doing those things. talking-about-job-experience

Her verbal descriptions were almost eloquent and she became quite animated, physically demonstrating how she carried out her work activities. I prodded her along with my trusty formula, asking: what she did, why she did it, and what the outcomes of her actions were.  Without hesitation, she let loose a verbal barrage that left me with a clear picture depicting her performing those work activities.

Later, I realized, it was not that my client didn’t know what to write on a resume — it was that she didn’t know how to write what was in her head. And I think that is the case for many people.

Better Advice (and maybe a bit of hand-holding) for a Better Resume

Let’s say you are writing your resume for a warehouse worker position. resume-writingYou have some experience so you should be able to tell your story. After all, it happened to you, you experienced it, so let’s see how we can describe your work activities vividly. For example, instead of saying something like, “operated a forklift”, how about something like:

  • Conducted daily safety inspection of forklift prior to operating to verify capacity and mechanical integrity in order to safely and efficiently transport and place pallets and skids within warehouse

I like it! This description tells a little story about what you did, why you did it, and what the outcomes of your actions were, all nicely described in a single sentence.

Check it out:

  • What you did: conducted a safety inspection of the forklift prior to operating it
  • Why you did it: to verify its capacity and mechanical integrity
  • What the outcomes of your actions were: the safe and efficient transport and placement of pallets and skids within the warehouse

It might sound corny, but when you are writing your resume you are writing a story, or lots of little stories. Your writing doesn’t have to be flowery, in fact, it should not be flowery — it should be descriptive.

Check out my article, What Are These “Accomplishments” We’re Supposed to Put on Our Resumes?, to help you get started writing a descriptive resume that tells your story.

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop a fantastic resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting an expert to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I welcome comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

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The #1 Way to Get Your Resume Read in 2018

How to Get Your Resume ReadThe #1 way to get your resume read in 2018 is the same as it was in 2017 and the same as it will be in 2019.  “Write for the employer, not for you.”

That means, even though you may be impressed by all of your great skills, qualifications, attributes, and work experience, do not make the mistake of thinking a potential employer will be as impressed. He won’t.

On your resume, list only what the employer is looking for, not what you think will impress him. Write for the employer, not for you.

If you’ve stopped in at, you might recall reading my blunt commentary on resume-writing: “It’s not rocket science — it’s common sense…”

Perhaps it isn’t fair to suggest it takes only common sense to write a fantastic resume.  Perhaps what I should have said is: “It’s not rocket science — it’s a discovery”.

I mean, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So, I am going to help you discover how to write for the employer so your resume will get read and probably even get you  invited to an interview. Then, I’ll give you a great tip to help you get started writing an amazingly-fantastic resume you won’t believe you wrote yourself!  So, what is…

The #1 Way to Get Your Resume Read in 2018?

Answer: Copy the Job Posting!

Seriously. That is the answer — copy the job posting — the job posting is your golden ticket!

Often, when a company prepares to fill a position, everyone from the company-owner, to the HR manager, to at least one other employee (usually from the department in which the position needs to be filled), puts a lot of collaborative brainstorming into developing the job description. What they eventually come up with is lists of skills, requirements, and qualifications their ideal applicants will meet. Some job postings are a mile long, and that’s a good thing! Thanks to the company’s collaborative efforts in writing a detailed and descriptive job posting, your job is easy!

Great Tip: Use Words from the Job Posting

Back in the day it was referred to as “skills matching”. Nowadays, with so many companies using ATSs, it’s more about peppering your resume with the key words and phrases used in the job posting. Although I implied earlier you should ‘copy the job posting’, I don’t mean “copy”  word-for-word — I mean grab key words and phrases from the job posting to use in your descriptions, not as your descriptions. Here’s an example:

Job Posting for an Administrative Assistant

  • operate multi-line telephone system with high call retention
  • use MS Office Suite to compile documents, publications, and spreadsheets
  • manage executives calendars, meetings, and appointments in Outlook

Resume for an Administrative Assistant

  • competently operated a 12-line telephone system successfully retaining and redirecting up to 100 calls per day in-house and remotely
  • used extensive knowledge of MS Office Suite to compose and compile a high volume of error-free executive-level documents and company publications
  • maintained complex company-designed spreadsheets to closely track the movement of inventories of six separate departments
  • scheduled and amended meetings and appointments for four executives using Outlook Calendars and the full compliment of its features

In the above examples, see how the highlighted words in the job posting are “copied” on the resume? They are incorporated, naturally, as a part of the applicant’s real work experience and that is precisely what the employer is looking for. Whether it is an ATS scanning your resume or human eye balls, it is those key words and phrases that get noticed.

Give Them What They Want

They’ve gone to the trouble to show you what they are looking for, so you must go to the trouble to show them you have what they are looking for!  Use their words to fill out descriptions of your skills, abilities, and work experience. And by the way, work experience is now called “accomplishments”.  Check out my article, What are These Accomplishments We’re Supposed to Put on Our Resumes?

I have always said, and will continue to say — never, ever send out generic resumes. If you seriously want a certain job then you seriously must customize your resume to get that job. Write for the employer, not for you. The way to do that is to use the words in the job posting. You know you have the skills and experience to be considered for the job, so use the words the hiring people used to show them you have what they want!

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop a fantastic resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting an expert to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I welcome comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

Did I help you to see the difference between writing for the employer and writing for you? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Thanks for your time today!

Website  FaceBook  Email  Ph: 403.563.0408

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Skip the DIY Resume, Get a Pro


I spend no less than an hour a day surfing the web looking at what’s out there for folks who want to learn how to write a good resume. There is a lot of good resume-writing advise out there, and that pleases me.

Some days I spend considerably more than an hour surfing, and it’s seldom planned.  It just happens when I either keep running across good articles and advice that are engaging and informative, or, just as often, bad articles and advice that are so mind-blowing I have to keep reading to see how far they go with their nonsense.  The latter feeds my morbid fascination with some of the garbage that is on the Internet.

So, if someone like me, an expert resume-writer who is insanely interested in the subject matter of writing resumes, can get caught up for two or three hours filtering through resume-writing websites and blogs, what must it be like for folks who are just trying to get a little guidance?

There is a common characteristic among people who search the web for resume-writing guidance. It is the desire (commendable may I say) to learn how to write a decent, proper, acceptable, and competitive resume that will earn a chance to be read. In a word, that characteristic is “wisdom”.  These folks know, or at least suspect, that resumes have evolved since they last wrote one and are wise enough to get online to find out what will make their resume new and improved. I trust, not blindly I hope, that these wise folks have enough common sense to distinguish between the good and true advice, and the bad and harmful advice, they will absolutely encounter online.

Contrarily, far too many job-seekers and career-changers don’t recognize their resumes are out of date, irrelevant, boring, poorly-written, and just plain useless in their current state. These folks dig up their ten-year-old resume, dust if off, add their most recent work experience, and happily send it off to compete with dozens if not hundreds of much worthier resumes. Blissful ignorance? Maybe, unless serious job-hunters are going months or years unemployed for no other reason than they keep sending in terrible resumes. Most job-seekers are qualified for the jobs they apply for — they just don’t present those qualifications front-and-centre where no question of their suitability for the position could be raised.

Whether you know your resume needs updating or you are just finding out now, you have a decision to make. Try your hand at it, or hire an expert? If you have gobs of time, are a good writer, know how to do Internet research (and are discerning enough not to get bedazzled by B.S.), are resourceful, embrace challenge, are patient, persistent, and confident, and, can write your resume objectively, then go for it. You possess all of the attributes necessary to write your own resume.

If, however, you don’t have all the time in the world to learn how to write a resume that can compete in 2018, hire an expert resume-writer.

There is some good resume-writing advice out there, but reading a good piece of advice does not magically give you the ability to apply your new-found knowledge to a new resume. It’s one thing to become enlightened — it’s another to have an “a ha” moment.  Knowing how to apply guidance and advice to your resume specifically, your work history, experience, qualifications, skill sets, education, and personality, takes practice. If you have written five or less resumes in your life, you need more practice. One effective way to work toward writing really great resumes is to write your resume for several different job opportunities, i.e.: job ads. If you are currently in a serious job-search you will have to tailor your resume specifically for each position you apply for, so that’s good practice. And don’t forget the cover letter!

The point of this blog article is to let you know that while you might very well be capable of writing your own resume, the process is time-consuming, the advice is sometimes confusing (good/bad Internet articles), the journey is tiring, and the results can be frustrating.

I have pulled a few excerpts from a LinkedIn article by Stacie Renna ➦ Talent Acquisition Specialist.  She reads hundreds of resumes written for almost every conceivable industry. I don’t know Stacie personally and in fact am not familiar with her work, so I can’t vouch for her in any way, other than to support her professional opinion as it relates to resume-writing.

“…it’s still interesting to me, the volume of resumes submitted that are so outdated and lack a focus of “personal branding.” And guess what? Those people never got called.

“The biggest complaint I have? BORING. Boring, boring, boring content with little to no “added value.”

“Your resume presentation is a direct reflection of your professionalism! When you send a resume that reads more like a job description – it tells me that you didn’t put that much work into it. And often people don’t take the time, because it is time consuming and maybe they truly don’t “have the time.” Then hire a resume writer! That’s why they exist.”

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Applicant Tracking System. What it is and How to Make it Love Your Resume

highly-targeted-automotive-marketingAn applicant tracking system is essentially an electronic resume-screening program that businesses use to filter out unsuitable resumes, thereby reducing the number of resumes the humans must eventually read.  ATS’s are used by all large corporations (like Tim Horton’s and Walmart), most big companies (like Stuart Olsen), all Government agencies, all School Boards, City Departments, some Towns and Municipalities, City Police, RCMP, Banks, and on and on.  Even smaller companies with large employee turnaround, like many small construction companies, use an ATS, and you might be surprised by which companies in your community use them.

Applicant Tracking Systems save companies tens of thousands of dollars a year in recruitment/acquisition costs and even smaller companies recognize the long-term value of these systems. ATSs do far more than just weed out undesirables — they manage the entire recruitment process from resume-screening to managing the paperwork on a new hire. So, it is not surprising to learn that perhaps your neighborhood mechanic shop uses an applicant tracking system.

Even when you walk into a store, restaurant, or whatever type of business it may be, and physically hand your resume to someone, often times they take your resume to the HR department or manager’s office where it is then fed into a scanner that uploads it to that business’s ATS.  So while you may have been told, “Thank you, I’ll make sure the manager gets it…”,  there’s every chance what they meant by “manager” was actually “ATS”.

Some companies, particularly those who do get a lot of walk-ins, use an ATS to ensure their hiring practices are fair. While applicant tracking systems are highly customized to suit the specific requirements of each business, they also are neutral.  An ATS doesn’t know you may be the receptionist’s cousin or the foreman’s nephew so if you do get selected for an interview, no one could claim it was because you got preferential consideration and cause all kinds of nightmares for the business.

So how do you get an ATS to love your resume?

The best way is to ensure you are qualified for the position you are applying for.  No sense applying for a job you have no, or few, qualifications for.  People argue with me all the time saying there is nothing wrong with dropping off a generic resume because you never know when you might be in the right place at the right time. I don’t argue back because that’s true.  There are no hard and fast rules about how to apply for a job and there are as many ways to do it as there are jobs to be had.  But if you are committed to a serious job search with the intent of getting a job fast, do yourself a favour and find some job postings that can help you customize and target your resume.

Applicant Tracking Systems score your resume based on how well the information in it matches the job requirements. Those free government-funded employment centres call that “skills matching”, but there is much more to an ATS-friendly resume than simply listing a bunch of bulleted lines mirroring the skills and qualifications described in the job posting.

While ATSs scan your resume for the keywords and keyphrases used in the job posting, they also recognize when those keywords and phrases have merely been regurgitated into a resume.  A resume that matches too closely (that is, a 95 percent or higher match) may actually be flagged by the ATS and ultimately disqualified. You’ll have to put some work into incorporating the job posting information into your resume organically, using as many of the keywords and phrases as you truthfully can but being sure not to overuse them.

At the top of this post I mentioned that an ATS is used to filter out unsuitable resumes. But what if you are well-suited to the job you’ve applied for and still didn’t get a call for an interview?  In that case, it may be you had enough keywords and phrases in your resume to get past the ATS, but not enough, or not the right information to impress a human. Ultimately, it is a human being who decides who to call for an interview, so while you are tasked with making sure your resume is ATS-friendly, you must also ensure it will appeal to a human being. If you have the skills, qualifications, and (in most cases) experience, but you aren’t getting interviews, I urge you to try to realize that resume-writing these days is almost an art. A lot of people think they can do it themselves but, unless they have done a lot of research and a lot of practicing, they really don’t know what makes a great resume that will get past an ATS, and, impress a human reader.

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop your resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting a professional to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I want your feedback and comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

Thanks for your time today!


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