Resume Makeovers

Tech Resume Makeover: How to add flavor to a bland resume

Don't count on your 'plain vanilla' resume to get you noticed - your resume needs a personal flavor to catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers. Here, expert Donald Burns adds his secret sauce to one CIO's resume to help him land his next role.

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Orienting the reader

"Because RUSH is not a well-known name like Microsoft, it's a good idea to identify the company and orient the reader with a one-line blurb. Don't exceed one line -- your resume is not an advertisement for past and former employers. Scott's original description for RUSH Enterprises ran three lines, which wasted space," says Burns. Once that was done, Burns moved on to the meat of Kressner's extensive experience, his 17 years at RUSH.

Because Scott had worked as RUSH's CIO for 17 years, readers would expect his resume to outline a big success story. Instead, his resume simply showed a dozen bullet points that didn't come together as a coherent story of accomplishment, says Burns.

A blessing and a curse

"If you've worked for the same employer for 17 years, it can be a blessing and a curse. The positive interpretation is that those 17 years prove the candidate has stability and is willing and able to make a long-term contribution of value to an employer -- they're not a job-hopper. The 'curse' is that 17 years might be interpreted to mean you've had one year of experience repeated 17 times," Burns says. To avoid the latter and focus attention on the former, Burns had to highlight Kressner's progression, movement and growth throughout his tenure.

After a second, hour-long interview, Burns and Kressner uncovered more information and detail that was used to show Kressner's dramatic and compelling story of long-term accomplishment, mastery of severe challenges and perseverance through tough times, Burns says.

"After our first interview, I thought we were finished. Wrong. During a second call to review the initial draft, Scott added information about overcoming demands to shut the project down due to the financial crash of 2008 and other problems. Scott pushed back and persevered in a very difficult environment. 'I had to drag the company across the finish line,' he told me, and that led to more detail, achievements and accomplishments," Burns says.

From bad to good, good to great

While the first interview transformed Kressner's resume from bad to good, the second interview took it from good to great. While reworking a resume in layers like this takes longer and requires much more time and energy, it produces a much stronger resume, says Burns.

The lengthy interview served another purpose -- preparing Kressner for eventual interviews, says Burns. Kressner is extremely personable and high-energy, but sometimes his enthusiasm causes his speech patterns to speed up, according to Burns.

"Sometimes I had difficulty understanding him during our calls; I record them all, and played them back for Scott. Once he heard them, he was able to slow down so he could be more easily understood. It's a great tool for interview preparation," says Burns.

At the beginning of the makeover process, Kressner told Burns he had drafted a few versions of his resume and none seemed to be working. Now, however, his resume is dramatically better, and both Burns and Kressner believe it will help Kressner land that next big role.

Download New Resume

"I really like the new resume. It's a good representation of my career and body of work. It's very different; everything from font use and color to the actual story and how it is told. This was especially important for me since I was at one employer so long. I am hopeful this resume will give me a great chance at getting a new position," Kressner says.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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