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One Thing About Resumes Every Job Seeker Should Know

A great resume doesn’t just open doors; it builds doorways where none existed before. I’m not just saying this because it sounds quaint, or astute, or like something a resume writer would say. This is a fact that I have witnessed firsthand.

Before I became a resume writer, I worked for a recruiter. Back then, the job market was teeming with job hunters, and I screened hundreds of resumes every hour. Job candidates would email their resumes, I’d click on each attachment, make a snap decision, and move onto the next. It was that fast.

On a good day, three or four resumes (out of a thousand, I imagine) would capture my attention. I forwarded them to my boss, and she’d review them when she found the time.

It was rare, but every once in a while, a truly exceptional resume would arrive in my inbox. The formatting was clean and appealing. The writing was fresh. The candidate’s strengths practically leapt off the page.

These documents made my day. I printed them immediately, examined them more closely, and then I did something every job seeker should know: I stood up, walked over to my boss’ desk, and interrupted whatever she was doing to show her the outstanding candidate and discuss the potential value to our business.

There, in the middle of a busy workday, we gave this person our time. There was no denying it, candidates with excellent resumes sprinted to the front of the line.

By the way, those job hunters—the ones that stopped me in my tracks—weren’t always flawless. Many times, I interrupted my boss to present a less-than-perfect candidate: a young person trying to establish a foothold after graduating from college. A parent returning to the workplace. A manager with experience in an off-target industry.

And yet, they still caught my eye. Instead of trying to impress me with a heap of resume jargon, these resumes showcased real people with goals, plans, and documented achievements. Plus, each one had something else: an authentic human voice.

Don’t get me wrong. They didn’t go overboard. They merely replaced tired clichés with actual information. They substituted bland phrases, like “improved sales” with thought-provoking bullets, like this: “Boosted revenue by marketing a never-before-launched product line.” They replaced “increased productivity” with workplace examples, like: “Blasted through a 25-week backlog in 10 days to make time for a rush of new clients.”

Here’s the bottom line: A great resume grabs recruiters by the shirtsleeves. It makes them stop what they’re doing and consider the value that you can bring to their clients and businesses.

Do that. Build new doorways. See what happens.