Yesterday, I received a call from a well-known recruiter that works in the Human Resources field. He and I go a long way back simply because we both worked for the same company years ago. If you know Frank, he has been around the block and has seen it all. Is he old school? Yes, and we can learn some lessons from those gray whiskers.

I sent him the link to a recent article about your resume needing to be a teaser. The first words over the phone were “That was right on target”.

His advice is to get rid of the summary at the top of the page. Riddling your summary with buzzwords like HR partner, empowered, optimized, contributed, leveraged or utilized – only leads to no calls.

Why? There is a good chance the rest of your resume does not support those buzzwords you were using to spruce up your resume. You have not told the reader anything about your accomplishments. Perceptive recruiters see through resumes that convey more than what you really have to offer.

Be realistic on your capabilities. State the obvious.

The second thing I learn from Frank is that HR Departments or internal recruiters continue to use antiquated internal processes. It surprises me that companies are still using check off lists to review your resume (if you have one, send it to me and I will gladly post it without identifying information) vs. critical thinking skills to make a selection. Overlooking a great hire is a missed opportunity for companies.

The argument is there are too many resumes to review. We all understand, but here is the reality.

Recently, a company went public with a high-level position. Within two days, they received over 2200 resumes. They shut down the ad immediately because of the intense response. After weeding through all those resumes, only four people made the final cut and none of them landed the job. I fail to see a winner on either side.

Avoid peppering the market with your resume if you are not qualified. You clog up the system for those who are true contenders.

Finally, it seems your pedigree determines which positions you can even hope to compete for in today’s market. A recruiter will look for three things on your resume:

  1. Major Company Identification. If you have not worked for one of the big ones, do not expect to land a position later in your career with one.
  2. Review Titles. Your career should show progression in titles and increasing responsibilities that demonstrates you can deliver in the position.
  3. Critical Skills. Call these skills out in your resume with examples of accomplishments, not just buzzwords.

Finally, your resume must stand out to get someone’s attention. Executive presence on paper, I call it. Consider websites you go to that are visually appealing; they usually have more white space than printed material. Companies spend a tremendous amount of money on packaging. Maybe it is time to think about yours.