In this video, Jeff Altman Identifies the hole in most people’s resume and how easy it is to fix it.

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Today, I want to talk with you about the gap in your resume. That’s a term that someone used recently in an article I picked up. It is a wonderful description for the mistake that people making with their resumes.

Most of the time when I'm looking at resumes, I'm looking at a person their education, their skills, their role, responsibilities, accomplishments, if they are in IT, the technology that they used. That's great it. But, here’s the mistake people make.

What did all of this accomplish? That tends to be missing in the resume. As the article , presented it's kind of like you dig a 3 foot hole; you stand there admiring the hole. What was the point that hole? What to do for you?

I’m not trying to make fun of ditch diggers or people who dig holes in the ground, but, unless I know what the purpose was, all I know is that you dug a hole.

You have to always contextualize what you've done in your resume in terms that that the next firm, that next hiring manager, your next boss is going to be impressed with. So, the easiest way is to think is in terms of money saved, money earned, sales generated… things along those lines.

If what you did was part of a project that generated $1 billion in sales, do you think that's more impressive than talking about your small part of it?

So, contextualize everything you've done in terms of that will be understood by the next organization. Otherwise, all you're doing is talk about how you built a wonderful hole in the ground and not really telling anyone what the purpose of that hole.

ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Connect with me on LinkedIn. Then message me to schedule an initial complimentary session.

If you have questions for me, call me through the Magnifi app for iOS (video) or PrestoExperts.com (phone)

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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0 Response
  1. Timothy Kuring

    How about making the employer explain the gaps in his employment?
    Or holes in his brain?
    I’ve seen a lot of incompetent, lazy, and dishonest people working at all sorts of jobs.
    Back to the drawing board, assholes, your hiring criteria are useless, and your personnel departments are clueless idiots.

    1. Jeff Altman

      I won’t argue with you about your experience AND I don’t know that it is helpful for the job hunter. At the end of the day, they have the power of owning the job and the opportunity. The job hunter has the power of saying, “No.” It’s like dating. You learn something about the other person and then figure out how far you want to go with them. Does that make sense?

    2. Timothy Kuring

      That was a fast reply.
      I get sick of job hunting. After college, I couldn’t find anything. I had to take underground work as a handy man, doing just about everything: I cut grass, cut down trees and cleared land, built fences, rebuilt barns, carpentry, electrical, and plumbing. It was plenty of work but it was mostly seasonal, so I would go back to job hunting in the Winters. I found nothing. I couldn’t even get job interviews.
      I even tried to get jobs at libraries and the Post Office, where I was required to take tests. I got the highest scores in the state. (I did very well in college too, where I was called the “golden boy” of the French and English departments.) But I couldn’t get jobs there either. That was all 25 to 30 years ago.
      The only jobs I could ever get were minimum wage, dead end, jobs in miserable places, where managers and employees alike were miserable, lazy, and generally incompetent.
      I’ve heard the advice that you should look for a job while you are employed, and potential employers promise to be discrete, but I consider such a thing sneaky, creepy, and immoral. I never would do it and I never will. I left jobs usually after a number of conflicts became too much to bother with. For instance, I worked in a university bar and grill where most of the employees were stealing. I argued with them and consulted with the head supervisor, who told me to ignore it. I couldn’t do that, so I nearly got in fights with some employees, like one guy as I pulled two pitchers of stolen beer out of his hands. I was up for promotion to supervisor, but they decided I was too hated by fellow employees to be an effective supervisor. It was a dead end and a very unpleasant place to work, so I quit. (Not long after that, there was a mass firing of the thieves, but too late for me.)
      At another job, I had frequent confrontations with the management over safety hazards, and they would brush me off and do nothing to correct the problems. Over the last such confrontation, I quit, and even as I was going to my car, a sand blaster blew up and injured two workers. Within a couple of years, that company was out of business. Almost every company I’ve ever worked for went out of business within a couple of years after I left, and I could well understand why.
      I could go on with countless similar stories. Everywhere I’ve worked was plagued with bad and incompetent management and unhappy employees. After every job, it took me months to find another job, and they were always another kind of bad job. My resume was always full of holes, and employers didn’t want to hear the truth of any story. Most of the time, I couldn’t even get interviews.
      I did finally get a job that was alright, managing a book store. It wasn’t much pay, but I could survive on it. I worked there for 14 years, but business started hurting, and bookstores were closing everywhere. My living expenses kept creeping up, but I knew the owner couldn’t afford to give me a raise: I did everything, including taxes, purchasing, pricing, payroll, etc. – everything but hiring, and that was a problem. There were plenty of job applicants, and some very good ones, but the owner kept hiring the most lazy and incompetent idiots. I had to spend too much of my time correcting their mistakes, and they constantly failed to do anything on the lists I left for them. Instead, they would surf the internet and get viruses on the computer that would force me to reboot from scratch and reload our inventory and such from discs. I wanted to fire them, but the owner wouldn’t fire them. He wouldn’t admit it, but I suspect he was hiring people in government programs so that the government would pay half their wages.
      That was surely the case at my last job, where nearly half the employees and managers needed to be fired. I had to keep finding managers and telling them that the deli department was running out of gloves, dish soap, and half a dozen other supplies. They couldn’t even tell me who was responsible for ordering the supplies. It is very simple and very basic, but the place was a horrible clusterf**k, and they never managed to resolve those problems. Fellow employees hated me for telling them to get to work, and for correcting their repeated stupid mistakes.
      After 14 years of managing a bookstore, I couldn’t get a job in a bookstore. Half Price Books kept advertising that they were hiring, and I kept sending their on line resumes, and even filling out paper applications in the stores. I applied at every other bookstore in Milwaukee too. Nothing. I couldn’t even get an interview. It makes no sense to me. If anyone with such experience had applied to work in my bookstore, I would have been crazy to hire them. The stupidity of these hiring managers is epic.
      But I am sick of the whole round robin of stupid game playing, and sick of working with incompetent management and lazy co-workers. As I see it, the whole damned system isn’t working. None of them are hiring good managers or good employees. They all have bigger problems than holes in resumes.
      I was fired from the deli job for refusing to join the union. I told them this is a right to work state and I see no reason to give their worthless union a cut of my minimum wage. The union was a fraud. If they could negotiate 30 or 40 dollars an hour like other unions, it might be worth it. While the manager was brow-beating me about joining the union, she said that ninety percent of the employees didn’t want to join the union, but they all had to. Some union!
      They wouldn’t take no for an answer. I hate employers who don’t respect my word. They kept sending one creep after another from corporate headquarters to ask me why I didn’t want to join the union. They last claimed, probably after consulting their legal department, that the right to work didn’t apply because of a grandfather clause, but they didn’t even have the guts to honestly fire me. They said they were reducing my work hours to zero.
      I hate the creepy dishonesty of these employers too.
      So now, every time I look at the God damned job applications, and all their invasive questions and demands that I explain holes in me resume, I want to spit.
      I want to rewrite my resume with the unvarnished truth: I worked for a lot of shitty employers with a lot of shitty employees, and I don’t want to do that any more. I don’t want to work for any more creeps who don’t take me at my word. And I can’t work for minimum wage any more. I also refuse to explain myself. It’s none of their business, and they don’t listen anyway. They don’t listen to anything.
      As far as I’m concerned, I don’t do interviews, I interview, and if I don’t like their answers, or if I don’t like anything I see in their benighted companies, I will walk out. They can go on hiring idiots, and chewing their nails over holes in resumes.

    3. Timothy Kuring

      Hi Jeff,
      It’s not going well. I’ve been thinking along the lines of the old quote: “Repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.” I’ve tried every kind of resume, and most of the advice given for job hunting with the same results, no results, for years. When I got the job in the bookstore, I was already frustrated with getting no results Winter after Winter, so I did something unorthodox. I walked into the shop, without a resume, and told the owner I was looking for a job, and I could give him a resume, but he wouldn’t like it.” I was hired on the spot, without a resume or application. But the owner was unorthodox himself. He had gone to prison for burning his draft card. There aren’t many such employers, but he was typical of the best employers I have had – small business owners. I have always had the most problems with bureaucracies, where office politics, back biting, favoritism, and gaming the system seem to be main activities of almost everyone. Dealing directly with the owner of a business is best, because they are usually rational and they appreciate results, with minimal trouble.
      However, the trend over my lifetime seems to be the failure and closure of small businesses, and their absorption by mega-corporations. Conflicts quickly multiply when I have to deal with bureaucrats and whole cadres of confused and confusing managers, to say nothing of unhappy and lazy co-workers. When I look at employment agencies, they seem to focus on those sorts of jobs.
      I’m trying to find a different approach that bypasses all that nonsense to get a different sort of job, working with people who are passionate about their work. I know such things must exist because I can see the results – like good products. But there are problems. I’m getting old, nearing traditional retirement age. Borrowing money for technical training is out of the question, as I decided a few years ago. It already seems like people are reluctant to hire 55 year old’s, although they won’t admit it. That touches on another issue that has long bothered me. Employers won’t give any feedback on why they won’t hire applicants – another sign of the annoying general paranoia of the job market, which isn’t helpful at all. Every personnel manager I’ve ever met was wet behind the ears. Most of them are women too, and most women have always hated me on sight. I’m big and strong and rough looking. Most people find me intimidating, physically and intellectually. I try not to be, but that’s just the way it is. I would prefer work outdoors, as a ranger or lumberjack, but I’ve looked into those sorts of jobs, and found that they have upper age limits for hiring. I drove a long haul truck for awhile, but I didn’t like it – too much sitting and not enough sleep. It’s a very unhealthy lifestyle, and most truckers get fat, and critically exhausted.
      I don’t know what to do or where to find anyone who can help me get a suitable job.
      I’m planning to go homeless and take a very long hike.
      I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there are a lot of men in my position, and there is no job service that knows what to do with them.
      There is no reason why I should have had so much trouble finding a job. I’m an honest man, with no criminal record, no criminal tendencies, no drug or drinking habits, no medical problems, no sexual problems, etc. If anything, it seems that a lot people hated me for having no problems, sometimes bitterly complaining that everything was easy for me. It’s not, but so it seemed to them. On any job, I could always do the work of two people, fix any broken machine, handle any customer, etc., and almost always with good humor. When people checked my blood pressure, they were amazed. One nurse said people would kill for my blood pressure. I think it is the result of a clear conscience, and dealing with problems as they arise rather than avoiding them or putting them off, or being dishonest about them.
      But how do you put that on a resume?

    4. Jeff Altman

      I am not surprised that you are not getting results. People can smell unconventional all over you and they want people who conform. Instead of big companies with personnel departments, try small businesses who are members of the local chamber of commerce. A lot won’t be interested but a few may. Some will fit your profile. BTW, the reason personnel departments don’t give feedback is that they are afraid their firm will be sued.Better to give none than have someone sue them.

  2. Timothy Kuring

    How about making the employer explain the gaps in his employment?
    Or holes in his brain?
    I’ve seen a lot of incompetent, lazy, and dishonest people working at all sorts of jobs.
    Back to the drawing board, assholes, your hiring criteria are useless, and your personnel departments are clueless idiots.

    1. Jeff Altman

      I won’t argue with you about your experience AND I don’t know that it is helpful for the job hunter. At the end of the day, they have the power of owning the job and the opportunity. The job hunter has the power of saying, “No.” It’s like dating. You learn something about the other person and then figure out how far you want to go with them. Does that make sense?

    2. Timothy Kuring

      That was a fast reply.
      I get sick of job hunting. After college, I couldn’t find anything. I had to take underground work as a handy man, doing just about everything: I cut grass, cut down trees and cleared land, built fences, rebuilt barns, carpentry, electrical, and plumbing. It was plenty of work but it was mostly seasonal, so I would go back to job hunting in the Winters. I found nothing. I couldn’t even get job interviews.
      I even tried to get jobs at libraries and the Post Office, where I was required to take tests. I got the highest scores in the state. (I did very well in college too, where I was called the “golden boy” of the French and English departments.) But I couldn’t get jobs there either. That was all 25 to 30 years ago.
      The only jobs I could ever get were minimum wage, dead end, jobs in miserable places, where managers and employees alike were miserable, lazy, and generally incompetent.
      I’ve heard the advice that you should look for a job while you are employed, and potential employers promise to be discrete, but I consider such a thing sneaky, creepy, and immoral. I never would do it and I never will. I left jobs usually after a number of conflicts became too much to bother with. For instance, I worked in a university bar and grill where most of the employees were stealing. I argued with them and consulted with the head supervisor, who told me to ignore it. I couldn’t do that, so I nearly got in fights with some employees, like one guy as I pulled two pitchers of stolen beer out of his hands. I was up for promotion to supervisor, but they decided I was too hated by fellow employees to be an effective supervisor. It was a dead end and a very unpleasant place to work, so I quit. (Not long after that, there was a mass firing of the thieves, but too late for me.)
      At another job, I had frequent confrontations with the management over safety hazards, and they would brush me off and do nothing to correct the problems. Over the last such confrontation, I quit, and even as I was going to my car, a sand blaster blew up and injured two workers. Within a couple of years, that company was out of business. Almost every company I’ve ever worked for went out of business within a couple of years after I left, and I could well understand why.
      I could go on with countless similar stories. Everywhere I’ve worked was plagued with bad and incompetent management and unhappy employees. After every job, it took me months to find another job, and they were always another kind of bad job. My resume was always full of holes, and employers didn’t want to hear the truth of any story. Most of the time, I couldn’t even get interviews.
      I did finally get a job that was alright, managing a book store. It wasn’t much pay, but I could survive on it. I worked there for 14 years, but business started hurting, and bookstores were closing everywhere. My living expenses kept creeping up, but I knew the owner couldn’t afford to give me a raise: I did everything, including taxes, purchasing, pricing, payroll, etc. – everything but hiring, and that was a problem. There were plenty of job applicants, and some very good ones, but the owner kept hiring the most lazy and incompetent idiots. I had to spend too much of my time correcting their mistakes, and they constantly failed to do anything on the lists I left for them. Instead, they would surf the internet and get viruses on the computer that would force me to reboot from scratch and reload our inventory and such from discs. I wanted to fire them, but the owner wouldn’t fire them. He wouldn’t admit it, but I suspect he was hiring people in government programs so that the government would pay half their wages.
      That was surely the case at my last job, where nearly half the employees and managers needed to be fired. I had to keep finding managers and telling them that the deli department was running out of gloves, dish soap, and half a dozen other supplies. They couldn’t even tell me who was responsible for ordering the supplies. It is very simple and very basic, but the place was a horrible clusterf**k, and they never managed to resolve those problems. Fellow employees hated me for telling them to get to work, and for correcting their repeated stupid mistakes.
      After 14 years of managing a bookstore, I couldn’t get a job in a bookstore. Half Price Books kept advertising that they were hiring, and I kept sending their on line resumes, and even filling out paper applications in the stores. I applied at every other bookstore in Milwaukee too. Nothing. I couldn’t even get an interview. It makes no sense to me. If anyone with such experience had applied to work in my bookstore, I would have been crazy to hire them. The stupidity of these hiring managers is epic.
      But I am sick of the whole round robin of stupid game playing, and sick of working with incompetent management and lazy co-workers. As I see it, the whole damned system isn’t working. None of them are hiring good managers or good employees. They all have bigger problems than holes in resumes.
      I was fired from the deli job for refusing to join the union. I told them this is a right to work state and I see no reason to give their worthless union a cut of my minimum wage. The union was a fraud. If they could negotiate 30 or 40 dollars an hour like other unions, it might be worth it. While the manager was brow-beating me about joining the union, she said that ninety percent of the employees didn’t want to join the union, but they all had to. Some union!
      They wouldn’t take no for an answer. I hate employers who don’t respect my word. They kept sending one creep after another from corporate headquarters to ask me why I didn’t want to join the union. They last claimed, probably after consulting their legal department, that the right to work didn’t apply because of a grandfather clause, but they didn’t even have the guts to honestly fire me. They said they were reducing my work hours to zero.
      I hate the creepy dishonesty of these employers too.
      So now, every time I look at the God damned job applications, and all their invasive questions and demands that I explain holes in me resume, I want to spit.
      I want to rewrite my resume with the unvarnished truth: I worked for a lot of shitty employers with a lot of shitty employees, and I don’t want to do that any more. I don’t want to work for any more creeps who don’t take me at my word. And I can’t work for minimum wage any more. I also refuse to explain myself. It’s none of their business, and they don’t listen anyway. They don’t listen to anything.
      As far as I’m concerned, I don’t do interviews, I interview, and if I don’t like their answers, or if I don’t like anything I see in their benighted companies, I will walk out. They can go on hiring idiots, and chewing their nails over holes in resumes.

    3. Timothy Kuring

      Hi Jeff,
      It’s not going well. I’ve been thinking along the lines of the old quote: “Repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.” I’ve tried every kind of resume, and most of the advice given for job hunting with the same results, no results, for years. When I got the job in the bookstore, I was already frustrated with getting no results Winter after Winter, so I did something unorthodox. I walked into the shop, without a resume, and told the owner I was looking for a job, and I could give him a resume, but he wouldn’t like it.” I was hired on the spot, without a resume or application. But the owner was unorthodox himself. He had gone to prison for burning his draft card. There aren’t many such employers, but he was typical of the best employers I have had – small business owners. I have always had the most problems with bureaucracies, where office politics, back biting, favoritism, and gaming the system seem to be main activities of almost everyone. Dealing directly with the owner of a business is best, because they are usually rational and they appreciate results, with minimal trouble.
      However, the trend over my lifetime seems to be the failure and closure of small businesses, and their absorption by mega-corporations. Conflicts quickly multiply when I have to deal with bureaucrats and whole cadres of confused and confusing managers, to say nothing of unhappy and lazy co-workers. When I look at employment agencies, they seem to focus on those sorts of jobs.
      I’m trying to find a different approach that bypasses all that nonsense to get a different sort of job, working with people who are passionate about their work. I know such things must exist because I can see the results – like good products. But there are problems. I’m getting old, nearing traditional retirement age. Borrowing money for technical training is out of the question, as I decided a few years ago. It already seems like people are reluctant to hire 55 year old’s, although they won’t admit it. That touches on another issue that has long bothered me. Employers won’t give any feedback on why they won’t hire applicants – another sign of the annoying general paranoia of the job market, which isn’t helpful at all. Every personnel manager I’ve ever met was wet behind the ears. Most of them are women too, and most women have always hated me on sight. I’m big and strong and rough looking. Most people find me intimidating, physically and intellectually. I try not to be, but that’s just the way it is. I would prefer work outdoors, as a ranger or lumberjack, but I’ve looked into those sorts of jobs, and found that they have upper age limits for hiring. I drove a long haul truck for awhile, but I didn’t like it – too much sitting and not enough sleep. It’s a very unhealthy lifestyle, and most truckers get fat, and critically exhausted.
      I don’t know what to do or where to find anyone who can help me get a suitable job.
      I’m planning to go homeless and take a very long hike.
      I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there are a lot of men in my position, and there is no job service that knows what to do with them.
      There is no reason why I should have had so much trouble finding a job. I’m an honest man, with no criminal record, no criminal tendencies, no drug or drinking habits, no medical problems, no sexual problems, etc. If anything, it seems that a lot people hated me for having no problems, sometimes bitterly complaining that everything was easy for me. It’s not, but so it seemed to them. On any job, I could always do the work of two people, fix any broken machine, handle any customer, etc., and almost always with good humor. When people checked my blood pressure, they were amazed. One nurse said people would kill for my blood pressure. I think it is the result of a clear conscience, and dealing with problems as they arise rather than avoiding them or putting them off, or being dishonest about them.
      But how do you put that on a resume?

    4. Jeff Altman

      I am not surprised that you are not getting results. People can smell unconventional all over you and they want people who conform. Instead of big companies with personnel departments, try small businesses who are members of the local chamber of commerce. A lot won’t be interested but a few may. Some will fit your profile. BTW, the reason personnel departments don’t give feedback is that they are afraid their firm will be sued.Better to give none than have someone sue them.

    5. Timothy Kuring

      Thanks for your help. I hadn’t considered the chamber of commerce. It sounds like an excellent idea. I figured the fear of lawsuits was a problem. I had a lot of arguments with teachers, professors, and whole classes in school and college over issues like that back in the day. I opposed affirmative action, as well as most government regulation, and one of my arguments was that it would make lawyers rich ans screw everybody else. I wanted a system in which employers could hire and fire at will, for any reason, or no reason. I figured no rational employer would fire a good employee, and they would more readily hire any employee if they could fire them just as easily. It would be better for good employees, and generally only hard on bad employees. I couldn’t convince anybody, though I could counter all their arguments until the usual thing happened: the professor shut down the argument and changed the subject.
      I was also disappointed in college, where there was no real debate and everyone was closed-minded. I could never finish arguments by thoroughly destroying all counter arguments, although from time to time, I trapped my opponents and exposed them to ridicule. A woman once screamed that I was making them sound like fools. Another woman, a very smart Japanese woman, once expressed surprise that I was a nice guy. She said she had always been afraid to speak in my presence because I was so intelligent that she was afraid I would think she was stupid.
      Anyway, I’ll try the chamber of commerce. Maybe you should make a video addressing the needs of unconventional job seekers, if you haven’t already done so.

    6. Jeff Altman

      I am not sure what “unconventional” means and wouldn’t have the 1st idea of how to define it and thus how to speak to it. How would you explain it to a 6-year-old like me?

    7. Timothy Kuring

      I’ve talked to men my own age. I find them working for minimum wage at places like Walmart – not very happy after a life of hard work and various kinds of experience. They too suspect that employers won’t even consider them because of their age.
      I have read that there are hosts of people who can’t afford to retire, even at 60 and 70 years of age. It seems like a great market, or pool of potential employees, for an enterprising employment agency to exploit, or specialize in. Unconventional workers.
      I’m not asking you to do my leg work for me, but you could survey chambers of commerce or unconventional employers to find a way to serve that niche market, which is bound to be a growing one. Or at least do a video that addresses the possibilities.
      I also think a lot of aging small business owners will be looking to go into semi-retirement. My own employer in the bookstore was such a person. He did a lot of travelling, for a month or more at a time. I could have run my own bookstore, but I had no capital. There must be other old workers like me. People who have the knowledge and talent to virtually take over running a shop of some sort, but don’t know where to look. It’s not in the want ads.

    8. Timothy Kuring

      There was one more thing I was looking into, but I’m not sure how the technical details would work out. I passed the idea on to a man in the ghetto. In 2008 Obama set up the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a program which would fund people to restore parks, houses, lots, etc. in ghettos and run down, abandoned, industrial sites. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. You could apply for funds to turn an abandoned shopping mall or factory into a greenhouse. You could do a small project like turning a blighted lot into a playground. The problem is that the poor people in the ghetto don’t know about the program, and probably don’t know how to fill out the application, with all the correct estimates, and so on.
      Someone who knows contractors and knows how to expedite government paperwork could franchise a business to put unemployed people to work all over the country on little projects like that by brokering the whole process. There is a limitation that prevents a large business from exploiting the program. A person can only apply for up to three such projects with, as I recall, a $200,000 upper limit for any project.
      It is a potential employment Bonanza, with the employees acting as independent contractors. But the paperwork is intimidating and the unemployed people in the run down neighborhoods across the land don’t know about the program. An employment service, set up as a nation-wide franchise, could specialize in setting up independent contractors of all sorts to get the contracts.
      That would be an unconventional job service.

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