HR Managers: Don’t Operate on Your Own Resume

Ask job seeker Amy Hall: Even for HR pros, writing your own resume is like someone trying to be their own doctor, dentist or lawyer.


A dentist wouldn’t perform his own root canal, and a human-resources executive shouldn’t try to write her own resume.

Going into her job search, Amy Hall, a Baltimore HR executive, had seen enough homemade resumes to know success is elusive – but she still gave it a try. “My first resume was so terrible, now that I look back on it,” Hall said.

It is not uncommon for HR professionals to feel a little overconfident when it comes to their own resumes. After all, they read and review resumes for much of their work day.

But Hall, who worked for retail companies, want to change industries, and realized she might need some help translating her experience for different verticals. She sought a professional resume writer and found Tina Brasher, a certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders.

Brasher put Hall’s original resume to rest and started fresh.

“When readers see a resume that is evidently self-written, they say this person doesn’t know enough to not be their own doctor, dentist or lawyer,” Brasher said. “Today’s job market is so tough that everybody professional needs help in marketing themselves. To do it yourself is an antique way of working.”

Don’t hide the promotions

What does a professional resume writer see that even an HR pro like Hall might miss?

Hall’s original resume listed her employment history so that a significant promotion at a major retail chain was lost in the mix. Hall had written the job titles and the corresponding dates in a way that made it seem as though she had simply transferred to a different team.

Brasher reworked the presentation of dates and job titles to show Hall’s rise during her four years with the organization:

Advanced through positions of increased responsibility for Human Resources functions based on consistently exceeding goals and expectations for this retailer with 1600 stores and 366K employees.

Hall’s original resume also included language and company jargon that were specific to her employer and wouldn’t be recognizable by those reading her resume, especially outside retail, Brasher said. She translated much the job descriptions using more general terms.

“I put in keywords that any HR officials would be looking for that were not necessarily what her company would use, but that also showed her qualifications,” Brasher said.

Distinguish accomplishments from duties

Brasher also discovered Hall’s job descriptions read like a list of job responsibilities and not the accomplishments she had achieved in those positions that are likely to impress a hiring manager.

Job seekers ought to “think of their work history in terms of results and accomplishments and not job titles,” Brasher said.

Using a detailed assessment of her career provided by HRLadder, Hall and Brasher were able to distinguish accomplishments associated with every positions she held.

For instance, the original description for one position read:

Responsible for formulating a strategy for and leading the development of Store Team Leaders (STL) and Executive Team Leaders (ETL) for 2 districts comprised of 15 stores with sales totaling over $708 Million.

Brasher crafted a new version of the same job description to highlight Hall’s achievements in the position:

Drive HR mission and best practices, and mitigate legal risks in partnership with 2 District Team Leaders who manage 15 Store Team Leaders in 15 stores. Launch hiring strategies ensuring districts meet goals of 70% campus, 20% external, and 10% internal hiring, staff promotion and in-tern conversion goals. Assure District Team Leads effectively develop Store Team Leads in all aspects of Talent Management, as well as meet compliance regulations while avoiding unionization. Approve all corrective actions for Store Team Leaders and Executive Team Leaders. Train and develop talent for promote to the next level in collaboration with District Team Leaders.

“Readers spend maybe 30 seconds before they make a go, no-go decision to even read the whole resume. Your resume needs to be attention-grabbing, so that the reader within 20 seconds can get a picture of the candidate’s ability,” Brasher said. “They want people who can make them money or save them money.”