Details can make or break you on a resume. Too many and your resume is likely to land in the recycle bin. Too few and your resume may not say enough to sell you.
How do you balance details to reach the top of an interview list? Talk about "the how"-- as in how you did your job and how you got where you were.
Take Gary Hartley, a Washington-state quality-assurance executive for the aerospace industry, who hadn't had his resume updated in about 10 years. Gary was recently a victim of an industry downsize.
In a profession where quantifiable metrics rule, Gary's dense, five-and-a-half-page resume was full of pertinent info but also a huge visual turnoff.
"Gary is a very successful aerospace professional with over 20 years of experience who leads large quality-assurance teams in aircraft manufacturing [and saves] companies tons of money," said Kim Mohiuddin, a certified professional resume writer who works with TheLadders. "However, Gary's extremely quantifiable achievements were visually muted by the sheer volume of information on the page. ... There was little guidance as to what it all meant."
In a word, Gary's resume was "oversaturated."
"Via the questionnaire and interview process, I learned that this guy had improved quality everywhere he worked, and he made his teams better. ... I got him to explain how he did these things," Mohiuddin said. "Then I took that ‘how' and focused on those improvements to emphasize this combination of management skill and metrics. I then made in to a kind of story that said, ‘This is what Gary can do for you.'"
"I knew things had changed with resumes over 10 years since I had done a lot of hiring building these quality-assurance teams," Hartley said.
Fresh, editorial eyes
"[In] most resumes, you notice these patterns of people depicting what they did, but most of the time what is missing is how they did it or how they arrived at a position," Mohiuddin said. "In Gary's case, during the interview process I learned that he was specifically recruited for one of his last jobs because of his expertise in fixing projects that had gone off course. He was considered the best person in the industry for that kind of job. Finding that small detail is the kind of thing you can't learn unless you go through some sort of evaluation process."
Mohiuddin likens it to the relationships writers and editors have when working on a writing project. Sometimes a resume requires a fresh set of professional eyes -- eyes that can help you find a new perspective. In Gary's case, the process made the resume discover a fresh strength and focus it hadn't had before.
"You want to make it very easy for the resume reader to imagine exactly what you'd be offering their company," Mohiuddin said. "Sometimes it is hard for people to be objective about themselves and what would be valuable to those on the other end reading your resume -- especially for someone in a metrics-driven industry. How do you know which metrics to use and promote?"
That's where the fresh set of eyes comes in.
Upon learning Hartley had an interview in less than a week, Mohiuddin jumped on his resume, got the questionnaire and interview accomplished within a few days, and had the new resume to Hartley the day of his interview.
"It is superb," Hartley said. "Kim did an amazing job. I've had five interviews since the first week in February and a couple offers, but they were further away than I was willing to relocate. So the things are progressing well. ... I know this resume is working."