How to Get Employers to Read Your Résumé

The secret to making a C.V. stand out in a crowd? Hook the reader early, and trumpet results.

Clearly, something was wrong. Mr. Bill thought it might be his resume, specifically the introductory section. Here’s what he initially included in this section:

Hands-on manufacturing, quality and supply manager with over 15 years of diversified experience in aerospace, entertainment and mining-equipment manufacturing supported by a Scottish engineering apprenticeship, a B.S. in industrial technology and an M.B.A. in management and organizational behavior. Excellent communication and analytical skills and the ability to influence cross-functional teams through coaching and mentoring. Internal and external leadership in formulating manufacturing and quality strategy, policy and procedures. Experience in developing world-class supplier relationships to achieve budget and schedule goals. Demonstrated leadership in implementing strategic and tactical process improvement initiatives that increased shareholder value. Key strengths include:

  • Project management
  • Supply-chain management
  • Estimating and budget development
  • Contract negotiations
  • Lean manufacturing
  • TQM trainer/implementer
  • International business development
  • Employee development

Mr. Bill was correct. After reading this introduction, few employers would likely want to meet with him. Like most résumé, this gives readers a good idea of Mr. Bill’s past duties. However, it doesn’t relate his successes to his work or establish his value.

It doesn’t say how he increased past employers’ output, decreased production costs or improved product quality. These all are key responsibilities of a manufacturing manager.

Second, like most résumé, the introduction contains many buzzwords and phrases, such as “diversified experience,” “excellent communication and analytical skills,” “coaching,” “mentoring,” “leadership” and “strategic and tactical process improvement initiatives.” Still, readers don’t know what contributions Mr. Bill made and how he improved any company’s manufacturing performance. They have no reason to keep reading his résumé.

“Nothing turns off executive recruiters more than an introductory section that has no substance,” says Dave Opton, chief executive officer of ExecuNet Inc., an Internet-based center for career management (ExecuNet is an alliance partner of

Judy Rosemarin, president of Sense-Able Strategies Inc., a New York career management firm, agrees: “Never begin a résumé with statements like, ‘A dynamic, results-oriented executive with a record of achievement at driving companies to the next level of success; also a creative problem solver and team player who thrives on challenge, excels under pressure, and continually exceeds corporate goals.’ This is fluff, and readers know it.”

Mr. Opton speaks frequently with executive recruiters about job openings. “They tell me that introductory sections consisting of generalized statements about responsibilities, accompanied by verbose descriptors regarding a job hunter’s capability, do nothing to interest them in reading a résumé,” he says. “What they want to see are factual statements about successes, not fluff.”


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