The Effective (Yet Ethical) Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Primped resumes are suspect and certainly don't establish the needed chemistry.

Posted Mar 22, 2015

Mazzeo, Open ClipArt
Source: Mazzeo, Open ClipArt

Imagine that you were an employer and a job applicant's resume or LinkedIn profile began, "Seasoned professional seeks..."

In just three words, that job seeker has made a poor first impression. An even moderately savvy employer, the type you'd want to work for, is likely to think at least some of the following:

"His resume certainly is primped up:  'Seasoned' is a way to avoid saying "old." "Professional" says nothing. And no one 'seeks' except job seekers. He has the job-seeker lingo down pat so I'm guessing he's well-practiced at it, having been unemployed a long time. Or maybe he hired one of those resume writers who are notorious for using that jargon. If so,I won't be able to use his resume to screen his thinking, organizational, nor writing ability, all of which are key to most jobs. Delete. Next candidate."

Of course, you need the intelligence, skills, and drive to do the job but you also probably need to create chemistry: a sense of trust and fondness. Alas, unless you're a star with a highly in-demand skill set, you'll be competing with many other applicants who appear similar. The person who gets hired is often the person whom the employer most likes and trusts.

This article, the sixth in a 12-part series on your career, offers an approach to creating a resume and LinkedIn profile that's more likely to make you trustworthy, likeable, and hireable for a well-suited job than is the typical resume and LinkedIn profile filled with jargon like, "I'm a team player who's also a self-starter who drove profit-enhancing initiatives, seeking a dynamic organization. I spearhead initiatives that maximize profitability and delight in exceeding customer expectations." Delete.

Creating your resume and LinkedIn profile should be your job search's first step. That's not just because you'll soon need it but because writing it will remind you of your accomplishments and so give you the confidence to press forward.

The most important parts of your resume and LinkedIn profile are the summary and  accomplishments within each job and--if you're a recent graduate--at school.

Your LinkedIn photo is also important: a well-lighted (no shadows) head-and-shoulders shot looking natural and wearing what you'd wear to work.

The summary. You may get only a few seconds before the employer decides to read on or reject you. So put yourself in your target employer's shoes and ask yourself, "What could I honestly say that would make the employer read on?"

A couple of examples: "Newly licensed psychologist with special interest in men's issues..." or, "HR generalist, 62, yes 62, but still vital indeed a bit wiser, would make a good member of a South Bay nonprofit's leadership team." Those suggest candor and a candidate that the right employer would more likely want to meet than Mr "Seasoned professional seeks...." 

You might wonder why I'm suggesting that older applicants mention their age up-front. If the employer is looking for a young employee, s/he's not going to hire an old one. Better to let it be known up-front. Not only does that save you both time, you've demonstrated candor. If your resume hides your age, for example, by only including your most recent decade's work, the employer, when seeing you, will feel deceived and likely not hire you.

The accomplishments. For each of your jobs and perhaps at school, list two or three things you've done that would most impress your target employer. Don't overstate your quantitative accomplishments--They're often viewed skeptically, if only because if you claim to have saved the employer hundreds of thousands of dollars, others are probably partially responsible. Qualitative accomplishments are fine, for example, "Became the most requested of the interns" or ""Developed a new recordkeeping process two years ago that's still the office standard today." 

It shouldn't take long. Don't spend too long creating your resume. A few hours is enough. Many job seekers spend weeks primping it to, if only unconsciously, avoid having to put themselves out there. Usually, what matters far more than additional resume polish after the first few hours is the quantity and quality of outreaches you make: to advertised jobs, to your network, and to target employers not advertising a job.

Here are the links to this series' other installments:

A Holistic Approach to Choosing Your Career

An Analytical Approach to Finding Your Career

Getting Well-Trained for Your Career

Networking for People Who Dislike It

The One-Week Job Search

The Effective (Yet Ethical) Resume and LinkedIn Profile (this article)

Ethical (and Effective) Job-Seeker Letters

Using Recruiters (Headhunters) Wisely

The Effective, Ethical, and Less Stressful Job Interview

A Contrarian Approach to Negotiation

Getting Off to a Good Start on Your New Job

A Contrarian Approach to Succeeding in Your Career

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.