professional resume

The Top 10 Secrets Your Professional Resume Reveals

As a job seeker, you might not know about the secrets your professional resume reveals to potential employers, recruiters, and hiring managers.

What? There’s something else you have to think about when creating a resume? Yes, absolutely.

Why? Because after people read hundreds or thousands of resumes, they start to recognize patterns beyond the obvious descriptions of work experience, skills, accomplishments, and education. In fact, they start to discern a lot of important information.

If you want to know more about the secrets resumes expose, look at this infographic and read the explanation of each item in the narrative below.

The Narrative

1. Achievement Orientation

First, ask yourself if you use more space on your resume listing duties or sharing accomplishments.

Recruiters want to see bullet points that highlight your accomplishments. You have to write about your wins. If you don’t, your readers won’t’ know about them and they will doubt your achievement orientation.

2. Writing Skill

Second, your well-written, easy-to-read resume says a lot about your writing skills — either because you wrote it yourself or you know good writing well enough to pick a good writer.

3. Specific & General Mental Abilities

Next, and tied to your writing skill, the quality of your resume reflects your specific and general mental abilities (SMA and GMA). Recent research has confirmed SMA and GMA as the best predictors of future job performance.

When you think about it, writing a professional resume is a lot like crafting a business case. You have to:

a. Gather information — the job description and company research.

b. Then analyze that information and identify what matters.

c. And build a rational argument to influence others to make a decision to interview you.

As you know, it’s not easy, but when you ace it, you look like the smartest, most attractive job applicant the company has.

4. Ability to Create & Sustain Relationships

Also very important, your professional resume shows your relationship ability. Recruiters look at your average tenure per employer and form opinions about how well you work with others.

If they notice too much turnover, they move on. If recruiters don’t see enough movement, they hesitate. They need to know you can fit into a new culture.

Thus, if you’re writing your resume yourself, use a resume builder or resume template that makes it easy for your readers to see your employment dates.

If your average tenure makes you look like a risky hire, a professional resume writer can help you restructure your resume to overcome potential objections.

5. Perceived Secrets

Building on the discussion of dates above, you might also have employment gaps on your resume.

If you have more than one gap or a large gap, then explain it in one short sentence. Don’t let your readers make stuff up (MSU) about what you were doing.

6. Context & Business Literacy

Lack of context is another type of gap that occurs on most resumes.

By providing context, you help your readers understand a few basic facts about your most recent employers, including:

a. Size (annual revenue, assets under management, etc.).

b. Ownership model (NYSE, private equity owned, family owned, etc).

c. Industry.

Beyond that, you get bonus points for business literacy and SMA.

7. Storytelling Ability

As you layer on these perceptions from your resume summary forward, you start to tell a good story.

Good leaders communicate through stories. Thus, you’re sharing information about your leadership skills through your resume, whether you mean to or not.

8. Self & Others Focus

Another leadership “tell” is your focus on your readers’ experience.

a. Have you made your resume easy to read?

b. Can a reader do a six-second scan?

c. Can they find your accomplishments?

d. Do they understand your company well enough to keep reading or do they have to click away to learn more about ABC Co.?

People who read a lot of resumes can spot candidates who care about others’ experience by how thoughtfully a resume has been prepared.

9. Professional Standards

Good leaders also set high standards. A neat, well-organized resume speaks volumes about your focus on excellence.

10. Overall Quality

Finally, your resume gives off a meta impression, a gestalt, of quality or lack of quality. It’s good to know this and check your resume’s meta-message to make sure that it’s positive.

Professional Resume Samples

You can see sample professional resumes here that further illustrate all of the items on the infographic and list above.

Image: Fotolia/gajus
Updated February 2019

© 2015 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 6

  1. Donna, this is great! Thank you for highlighting writing skills and ease of reading. I recently had a hiring manager pass on a candidate, in part, because the resume formatting was atrocious. It was very hard to read, so there was a perception of a lack of care on the candidate’s part. Not good for a position where written communication is important and was highlighted as a requirement.

  2. Thank you for sharing these insights, Donna. Very revealing. I’d like to add to the conversation by expanding on #1. Achievement Orientation. For those of us in the job market, we have heard about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These software systems assist employers by scoring your resume against the job requirements and then rank it against other candidates. When you list your accomplishments, you must use the same language the employer does in order to score well and be ranked in the top 5. Then, your resume is seen by human eyeballs. Luckily, new technology allows us to leverage data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze your resume against the job posting, extract the relevant keywords and merge them appropriately into your resume.

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