Remember These Pointers When Writing Your New Resume |

Follow Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter on Facebook

When people write resumes, they often go to such extremes that are unnecessary. On this video, I walk through several things you need to pay attention to when putting it together.

Read Full Transcript

I thought I would do a show about resumes because, frankly, I haven't done one long time and I'm not going to put up stuff on my screen that shows you what a good resume looks like. I just want to point out some things to you that I think you need to be aware of when constructing a resume in these times under these circumstances, different than back in The Stone Ages when I got into recruiting.

So, point number one is you were always taught name, address and phone number at the top of your resume . . . At least old-timers were. Even a lot of younger people like older millennials got that feedback. It’s not about your address now. It is about the city, state and ZIP Code. I know that there our people who tell you that you don't have to include a ZIP Code. That's a mistake. The mistake is, frankly, if you want someone to get back in touch with you, whether it's a corporation or a recruiter, they are going to go back into their database to look for people within a specific geographic area.

Imagine, for example, you live in the San Francisco and someone enters in San Francisco, California. You miss all the surrounding areas, right? That’s because it doesn’t match San Francisco, CA. They need a ZIP Code and a lot of the stuff like there's an article I read recently on one site where they didn't even mention ZIP Code as a variable. Yet, this is how firms key in the location. You’ve got to get your ZIP Code at the top of the resume.

Also, without getting excessive on the design elements, you want a lot of white space around it. Now, if you are in artistic fields, you may have a temptation to use a lot of graphic design formats and, if you are submitting it through an applicant tracking system, the system may choke on some of the things that you do because it's hard to parse it into the right fields. So, be aware that there's a choice that you make when you go for extensive design elements to create visually appealing document versus one that’s going to be useful to the system.

Why do I say “useful to the system?” Although I prefer you not to be submitting resumes through an applicant tracking system, I prefer that you to send them directly the hiring managers, the fact is that most of you are going to do it anyway. The issue comes down to if the keywords don't match up well and with sufficient frequency once parsed into the resume and parse them to the right fields, you are not going to get an interview . . . And that is going to be on you because you chose to make them a nice pretty resume with all sorts of colors and interesting fonts and visually appealing so you thought it just doesn't work with the system. Instead, a lot of these systems like pretty conventional fonts and a lot of white space. So, be aware of that as you construct your resume.

Also, I want to mention that frequency of use of a lot of terms becomes important. So, think in terms of the fact that there's a language that is specifically used in the job description and, unless your resume matches up with it, the system may not recognize other variables. So, understand, it may be looking for someone with a particular academic background and particular skills who has done a specific type of work previously. It's software. It is not a human being. As much as we hear about AI, they're not really all that good yet. Eventually, they’ll get there and data dictionaries will get built up. But, in the meantime, they are pretty stupid.

Since a lot of resumes are being scanned and decided on by the ever popular black hole, think about it from the system’ standpoint. What gets through the system? The answer comes down to the wording in the resume and the wording in the job description have to match, have to be used repeatedly, and has to be pretty high in sequence with how it’s presented in the resume.

If the role, if the language is used on the bottom of page 3, it suggests to the system that, frankly, you haven’t used them recently. So, one little trick you can do is to add the equivalent of a cover letter at the beginning of the resume that kind of says, “I want you to see how my background matches up with the job.” So, you have the keyword in the left-hand column and how long how recently you did the work in the right-hand column. That, in effect, becomes page 1 of the resume. So, what you're doing is starting off with how your background matches and then the resume follows right behind. That's one option. There are many variables about that.

You can use it is the cover email for your resume so it's in there. But, if you are submitting it through an applicant tracking system, this is a nice little trick that, shall we say, fools the systems quite a bit because it immediately gives the matches to your background and, then, page 2, goes further or the second half of page 1 goes further to illustrate how your background matches.

So, there's a couple of ideas. In days of old, we used to talk about customizing resumes for the job; now, we talk about “personalization.” It has to be personalized for the listener. Same crap. New language.

Remember, if you flip the resume like a burger at a fast food restaurant to someone and expect to get a different result, it is like the broken watch that's right twice a day. Most the time it doesn't work. You don't get the interview and twice a day (in the example of the broken watch) the time is right twice a day. All the rest of the time it's wrong.

So, personalize your resume. Make it fit. Make it obvious that it fits.


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

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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 (phone) offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

Connect with me on LinkedIn. Like me on Facebook.

Join and attend my classes on Skillshare. Become a premium member and get 2 months free.

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle on Amazon and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.” If you are starting your search, order, “Get Ready for the Job Jungle.”

Don’t forget to give the show 5 stars and a good review in iTunes

If you want to know how to win more interviews, order “Winning Interviews.” You’ll learn how to win phone interviews, in-person interviews, the best question to ask on any interview and more.

Would you like to talk through a salary negotiation or potential negotiation you’re involved with? Order and schedule time with me.

Do you have questions or would like advice about networking or any aspect of your search. Order and schedule time with me.

Would you like me to critique your resume. Order a critique from me

For more about LinkedIn, order “Stacked: Double Your Job Interviews, Leverage Recruiters and Unlock LinkedIn.”

Jeff’s Kindle book, “You Can Fix Stupid: No BS Hiring Advice,” is available on Amazon.


About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: