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Résumé Writing Ground Rules

By Ken Moore, International Certified IT Résumé Specialist

Myth:  The résumé gets you a job interview.
Truth:  The résumé introduces you to someone you don’t know.

Being unsure about the strength and presentation of your résumé is like not feeling good about the clothes you are wearing—that affects self-confidence. 

Being completely certain that your résumé presents you well is like someone telling you how nice you look—that creates confidence and energy.

You, and your résumé, are judged within seconds of meeting someone. You won’t get job interviews unless you do a good job of dressing up your résumé and communicating your achievements on paper.

The Basics of the Résumé

  1. Your résumé needs to stand up tall, make eye contact, smile, give a good hand shake, and summarize key things about you because you are not there in-person to do it yourself.
  2. We all know the professional etiquette and communication expected when we meet someone in person for the first time. Don’t forget, neglect, or ignore these expectations when dressing up your résumé for a first impression with employers.
  3. Logically and realistically, you can’t let your guard down in your written communication and ability to express yourself clearly because employers are watching—they’re “watching” your résumé—so make it look good, sound good, engage the reader, and communicate well in an organized way. Otherwise, your phone won’t ring for interviews.
The Nuts and Bolts – Résumés versus In-Person

How can a résumé send a bad first impression? The following are examples of how a poor résumé translates and compares to a bad in-person first encounter.
  1. A badly formatted résumé is like wearing wrinkled clothes on the first date. If it’s not easy on the eyes to read then employers will not read any of it.
  2. A résumé that doesn’t quickly engage the employer is like not making eye contact with someone. If employers don’t feel a quick connection then they won’t want to talk with you.
  3. If your résumé doesn’t pull the employer into your career story, it’s like not offering a solid handshake to someone. Employers want a strong story and they won’t try to figure it out on their own.
The Bottom Line – The Profitability

Everything considered, when you use your résumé to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, make sure it is organized, presents information well, communicates your achievements clearly and concisely, and doesn’t send the wrong perception about you as a professional. 

Your résumé is a direct reflection on your communication, organization, and presentation skills for someone who does not know you. Would you want to talk with someone who does not look, sound, or act appealing?

Truth: The résumé introduces you to someone you don’t know. How it carries and presents your message is what will get you interviews, AND a better starting salary.


Ken Moore is an International Certified IT Résumé Specialist (CRS-IT), International Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), former recruiter, and national contributor of career articles. Visit his website, TheRésuméBridge.com.