A Tale of Two Resumes

A Tale of Two Resumes

A Tale of Two ResumesA guest post from Harry Urschel of The Wise Job Search

There once was a resume,
very ordinary to the eye

However, it got no results
and here are some reasons why…


Alright… I’m not going to be able to rhyme all this… I’m no poet!

There are a number of articles written about effective resumes, however, few visual examples.

Here is a hypothetical “before and after” shot of a typical resume in order to illustrate some of the concepts often discussed.

Please note that these resumes are completely fabricated and do not represent any specific individual!

These samples are only the top half of the first page. They are far from complete. They should not used as a template for a resume, but rather are only intended to illustrate some key points.

If a recruiter or potential employer is reviewing a resume and making a judgment call in a matter of 15 to 30 seconds… it’s critical that as much key information jumps out as possible.

This first example is a commonly used format and style…

Bad Res


Picking it up, and quickly trying to determine “Bob’s” skills and strengths can be a challenge. It requires reading long sentences and paragraphs; and that’s not likely to happen when the reader is looking for answers quickly. If the fit for the role doesn’t pop out… it’s easy enough to move on to the next resume, because there are plenty of them to review!

The content might be very well written and convey a lot of information. However, if it’s not read, it has no impact.

A well written resume is good… one that conveys the most important information quickly and easily is better!

An “Objective” statement, a required feature of a resume in days gone by, is generally highly discouraged in today’s job market. An “Objective” is all about what the job seeker wants. The employer is primarily concerned with whether the person can do the job and solve the problems the employer needs addressed! Drop the Objective.

Consider the “after”…


Good Res

Picking up “Bob’s” new resume, the reader immediately sees he’s a Project Manager. The right kind of person for the job… OK… keep reading. Key skills and qualifications are easy to pick out of the bulleted list at the top without having to read a paragraph.

White space between bullet points in his Experience section makes each one easier to pick out and understand.

Short, substantive soundbites instead of long sentences will get read, and understood more quickly. Boldfaced skills and accomplishments in the middle of the soundbites emphasize key points targeted at the job requirements.

The two examples have the same key information. The “after” version, however, eliminates the fluff. Self-descriptive words and phrases like “Driven, strategic thinker…” are the writers opinion not based on facts in evidence, and will generally be ignored. Facts that demonstrate a record of responsibility and achievement are far more credible and effective.

The second version initially appears less substantive, however, conveys information far more efficiently than the first. It’s effective!

When hoping to get considered for a job… effective is far better than beautifully written. It’s possible to accomplish both… but don’t lose effectiveness in the process!


Harry Urschel is a Talent Acquisition Leader, Executive Recruiter, Job Search Coach, and Writer in the Minneapolis area with over 25 years of career development experience.  He is also a Crossroad Career ministry leader at Grace Chuch in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  

Harry teaches job search courses, leads networking groups, and authors The Wise Job Search whose articles are used by a number of publications, schools, and organizations.

He speaks regularly on job search and career related topics. He’s been interviewed as a career expert in pieces for CNN, ComputerWorld, Chicago Tribune, JobTalkAmerica, multiple books, and other venues.

Comments 1

  1. My resume is just like Bob’s old resume. I have great experience, but sadly, i think my resume is a yawn to potential employers! I am a registered nurse looking for a non traditional position in a faith based organization. I left my last position because the workplace was so hostile and punitive… I think the “world” would say just suckered it up, but I find it difficult to “look the other way”.

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