Resume - job - searchby Steve Burdan, Featured Contributor

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap]N PART I OF THIS SERIES, I drew a quick connection between the search for the Great American Novel in the US literary scene and the desire for jobseekers to have a sure-fire resume that guarantees a job offer. I chose 4 great writers from the 20th century to highlight potential flaws that regularly appear in resume packaging. Understanding and avoiding these bad tendencies will help you get better traction in the job transition.

The first author was F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose lyrical voice, luxurious style and memorable characters made him a best seller. But in Resume World, this temptation shows itself by using what can be described as “flowery” language, while neglecting to keep a tight career narrative and focus on specific career achievements.

Another great writer is Thomas Wolfe. His novels illustrate a second negative tendency in modern resumes – overwriting. In his short life, he gained notoriety for creating piles and piles of manuscripts that his publishing editor, Max Perkins, haResumed to drastically pare down into manageable shape. Without this help, Wolfe’s work would not have seen the light of day.

The same dynamic occurs in Resume World – especially with IT or technical managers and executives. Too often such jobseekers pack too much descriptive content or achievements into their “home-made” document, resulting in a 4-5-page resume. Of course, the assumption is that if more is included, it will increase the odds of being noticed and closing a new job. Well, it certainly get noticed, but not in the way the jobseeker hopes – most potential employers will not want to wade through thick blocks of content.

Unfortunately, jobseekers too often don’t have the kind of editor Wolfe did to save their resume from being morbidly overwritten. “Sales” of your resume will be way down. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help resolve this kind of disaster and keep you competitive in the game. So why hobble yourself with blunt tools that can’t do what they’re made for?

Out-of-shape resumes won’t help your job transition – if you are in for a marathon, you need to be more ready for Mile 26 than for Mile 1. The best job searches occur within a community context, i.e. support and accountability from family, friends, colleagues and even resume writers and recruiters. Successful job searches are a team effort – no one should try and go it alone.


  1. Prioritize your job description – Focus on listing top 3-4 general job functions, such as team/budget size, critical tasks and work scope.
  2. Prioritize your achievements – Organize and list 3-4 top accomplishments per position – no doubt you will have a lot to say about each job, particularly your current one.
  3. Use a compact version of Situation, Action, Result (SAR) –This will help you keep a tight rein on overwriting and adding unnecessary info.
  4. Avoid the “one-page cram” impulse – Don’t underwrite your resume either – unless you are a recent college graduate.