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Virtual Job Club Day 9: YOUR Resume!

How many times have you written, rewritten and fiddled with that darn document? Just when you think it’s perfect, you discover a way to make it stronger. Or, perhaps you rarely look at it because you know it doesn’t do justice to your career, but you’re at a loss for how to fix it.

The irony is that you definitely can’t rely on your resume to get a job, but good luck getting one if your resume’s not in tip top shape.

So what exactly does it take to ensure you’re not dismissed because a piece of paper indicates that you’re overqualified, underqualified or not qualified at all?

Help is here.

Press play to hear resume pro Violet Nikolici Lowrey will deliver Part One of our RESUME REVAMP series with solid specifics on making your resume work for you. This call is about 20 minutes in length and you can listen to it anytime.

In the meantime, tell us what grade you’d give your resume and what worries you the most about this document. In addition, post specific questions that you’d like addressed in both Part One and Part Two of the RESUME REVAMP series.



  1. Patti

    My resume is chronological. I have over 20 years of HR experience, but it is listed third, after a few years of caring for my mom while running my own tiny business and my current “adventure in under-employment”. I’ve been given conflicting advice about switching it to list HR experience first, taking off the dates, etc. I don’t want to appear that I am dishonest or being deceptive if I leave off dates or bury “the gap” and my current job at the bottom. Any advice appreciated!

  2. JF

    My resume is a B+/A- when I show it to friends in the real world. When I show it to resume writers, it gets about a C – they want almost $500 to make it better. I have been on some linked in chats and the opinions are totally mixed. I am nearing the point of trying it, it is tax deductible but maybe it may get me more noticed!

  3. L. A.

    I have chosen not to include work places and education on my resume, but to focus on my talents. My resume has worked for me, but I would like to know how much emphasis does an employer place on those past work histories and education. I am not hiding employment gaps or age.

  4. Lois

    I have my current job listed as 6/2010 – current but the truth is that there was a 5 month gap. So should I put the dates as 6/2010 – 10/2010, 5/2011 – current? That just adds yet another gap in my background!!

  5. Maureen Reintjes

    Which resume do you want me to grade?

    There is a an online resume on a blog. And then there are numerous resumes that are generated on job boards, etc.
    I also cater the resume to the position I am applying for.

    I have written successful resumes for CEO’s, military conversions, IT, professional athletes, medical doctors, psychiatrists, truck drivers, admin assistants, you name it I’ve written it. But I still have places offering to rewrite my resume for $500 or more!

    I’m not going to get too hung up on the resume. As long as it points out quickly what I want the hiring decision maker to know about me, I’m good.

  6. Kathy

    Mine is a B. The issue is not format but content: specifically, the fact that I haven’t worked in 10 years.

  7. AB

    My resume was formatted by a career management that coached the employees who were laid off by the company I worked for. I had a great coach and she and I sat down to put together my resume. I have a lot of experience in my professional career, both in the US and outside the country. Unfortunately it will take many pages to list everything I have done and worked for during my 30+ years of experience, so the last two jobs take the last 20 years and it was more than enough for the type of jobs I am looking for.

    I will give my resume an A. It is a Combination Resume. I change the summary depending on the type of position I am applying for. I have gotten great comments about it and it is very easy to read.

  8. DS

    I’d give mine a B. It is a bit too wordy and I need to rework the “gap” in which I have done a ton of volunteering and pro bono work while “out of work” – not exactly sure how to address it or where to put in on my resume. Look forward to the call.

  9. N.C.

    My resume changes pretty drastically depending on the work I’m applying for. If my work experience will be getting me the job, that goes first… if it is my education and life experiences, my qualities… those go first. I’ve read resume books, researched resumes online and have a SIL who heads up HR for a nearby county. These have all helped and I think I’ve got that down pretty well. I would say that the cover letter really has to WOW. I recommend Jimmy Sweeney’s Amazing Cover Letter software. Truly it can make you stand out and is adaptable for the type of job opening and applicant pool.

    I guess I’d have to give my resume an A; then again, I’m not a hiring manager!! I have been job hunting for less than 2 months…. I’ve been offered one job and made it to the second interview on 2, (2nd interview next week on one and waiting for an offer on the other). Must be doing okay on the resume.

  10. Susan Kaye

    People tell me I should use a one page resume, some say 2 page. Use a functional because I have worked in may different jobs over the past several years.

    I did put some thing on LinkedIn about this and still getting answers on that. The last job I have goes back to 2000 that is it.

    Some people I should go back and put every job I have every had down that would go back to 1977 that is too old.

    AB had a comment before me and is using a Combination Resume I have never heard of that kind of resume. Can some explain that type of resume to me.

  11. ME

    I cant really say, because I haven’t gotten any job interviews from my resume. I put together a CV/Resume and it is chronological. I have been told to place my education first and then my experience. I would give it a B. I get very good feedback on the CV/Resume, from people other than HR, and I have been told that it is outstanding. I need someone to actually critique it and provide feedback. I have 30+ yeears of experience and 3 years of volunteer experience in the field that I would like to work in.
    Question 1: Should the CV/Resume be written chronologically?
    Question 2: When should I use a CV format or Resume?
    Question 3: How long should the CV/Resume be?
    Question 4: How many bullets should be shown under each job ttitle?

  12. DNY

    I can’t even recall the number of times I have done my resume. I have asked many friends to review it and I have made many updates based on their input. I am very happy with the last version I created. I made the last changes based on the input from a recruiter. She started asking questions that should have been obvious from my resume; then I realized I needed to add some detail. I give mine an A+. 🙂

  13. Jennifer

    I would give my resume an A- as there is always room for improvement. It was written in 2000 after my first layoff with professional assistance. I was fortunate as it was paid for by the company along with severance as part of the layoff package. Not even sure if companies provide that kind of assistance anymore.

    It is in a template format that allows for changes depending on the job I am applying for. It includes both technical skills along with functional skills that can apply to all positions. It is 2 pages max to allow for more technical information and continued technical education.

    It has served me well over the years even getting two jobs site unseen from just reviewing my resume. Both positions were contract to perm. One I was hired on and the other stayed contract. Both lasted at least 2-3 years each. Currently it has also served well in getting consistent contacts from recruiters and HR departments weekly regarding new opportunities.

    In fact, I have a telephone interview today at 1pm after submitting my resume last week. Looking forward to using what I have learned so far as part of this Virtual Job Club to show a positive attitude in telling my story, telling my brand in a sentence and showing my relevance to get that 2nd in-person interview.

    I look forward to hearing all the suggestions made over the next two days as part of the Resume Revamp series.

  14. JW

    My resume is chronological and begins in 2000 when I started in the industry. It was reviewed by the experts at the Women For Hire Career Expo in September last year at the Hilton. I was told the format and style were good and only a few changes were made to the heading. My concern is now I have been out of work for 14 months. I have done some freelancing work here and there, but I’m unsure of how to add this to my resume.

  15. EW

    I would grade my resume a C for effort!! I have, as you said, revamped it many times. I have a big problem with the last date of my employment because I have been out of a job for a year and a half. Does a Resume require that you give the name, address and phone number of previous employers? I notice on all applications I need that information, but my Resume does not have that. What format is most effective?

  16. Maria

    My resume is an A-. I had a career management firm write mine years ago and I continuously update it, keeping the same format. Cannot say I get many interviews from it though it is clear what I have done, and it is easy to read. If anything it is a little generic as my job search is not focused on a specific industry so I tweak it slightly when applying to a specific job

  17. KC

    I would give my resume a B to B+. I’ve worked extremely hard in the past 1.5 yrs to highlight my most recent skills, accomplishments and experience. It’s a combination resume which has helped put me in the best possible way on paper. It was also critiqued professionally and at a Women For Hire expo last fall. I took the suggestions and made some tweaks. Through my update my resume I’ve gotten phone interviews over the months this year and even an interview next week.

  18. DKCG

    I would rate my best resume with a B. My resumes are in chronological order.
    I have several resumes: First, I have a resume geared for corporations that I list only 10 yrs of jobs, experience, etc. This is no more than 1.5 pages. Secondly, I have a resume that is used only for government jobs–this document is about 3 pages. Being that I have 15+ years of experience in the government sector, it is lengthly and depending on the type of job you are applying for in the government, it is critical that you clearly provide all of your relevant experiences, education, accomplishments, etc. Third, I also have one geared in higher education–depending on the position, this is normally 1.5 pages.

    I have spent many hours revamping these documents and still rework for each position I apply for. I do include gaps in employment.

  19. Janice E

    My resume is rated at C. I have been working on it over the past month. From feedback I have received and what I am reading here posted by participants there are things I need to do to move from “generic’ classification to one that stands out. I can handle the content, but the formatting and visual impact is more of a challenge. I look forward to the call and further discussion.

    The questions raised above are similar to those that I have.

  20. JKP

    I’d give my resume a B. The content is good and concise, but the format is ordinary. I’d like my resume to be visually appealing, so that it will hold HR’s attention.

    I’ve tried tailoring my resume for different jobs, moving terms to the top of my resume to match the word in the add. But is there more to tailoring?

    Is it true that HR electronically scans resumes and only look at the ones with the most hits that match the search criteria they’ve put in? So, if I only mention a skill once, my resume won’t get looked at?

    Also, do cover letters count for anything anymore?

  21. Carmen

    I give my resume a B. It is chronological and succint, not too wordy, and 1 1/2 pages. My most recent job lasted for 16 years, but I have included my previous positions, as they are relevant for most of the jobs I am applying for. I worked in academia for the last 16 years, so I revamped my resume geared more towards executive administrative assistant positions. I have been told that my resume is good and easy to read and understand.

  22. REK

    Like many posting here today, I have revamped my resume numerous times, and do some amount of modification to the base model based on the job being targeted. I would rate the current one a B+. It is in a combination format – experience listed chronologically with bullets highlighting major accomplishments and skills rather than just job responsibilities. Based on career counseling advice, I include only the past 10 – 15 years with dates, and summarize the rest without dates. I think it is clear and easily understood, but I must admit I have not been swamped with responses. (Hence the B+ grade. I am guessing there is SOMETHING I should re-tweak.)

    My questions: (1) Should I include an executive summary? I had one, but took it out based on advice from a recruiter who reviewed my resume earlier in my search. The resume feels naked without one. Should I put it back? Ideally, what should it include? (2) How long should the resume be? I have over 20 years experience in my field as well as education information to cover. I have worked really hard to keep it all on one page. If I put the executive summary back in, it will definitely have to go to two pages.

  23. PL

    I am so over this drill but I still wouldn’t give my resume more than a B-. I started messing it with when you first recommended that dates come off (if you have literally a 40 year work history like I do). I think I list maybe the last 15 years now – actually I have TWO resumes. One is for my background in the health field as a massage therapist when I apply for physical therapy aide type positions and one is strictly an administrative resume which I use to show my background in office work, management, real estate experience, etc. Depending on what I’m applying for is what resume they get but I think they both could use an overhaul. I had a friend who has experience in HR (and knows what she’s looking for in new hires) go over both of my resumes and she helped me re-do them AGAIN. Not sure what else to do at this point to improve them. So – I definitely keep dates off of both resumes but I offer a separate list of references for each resume and also attach written references.

  24. SJ

    The overall grade I would give my resume is:

    NIP=Needs Improvement PRONTO!!!!
    CSADOA=Current Status – A Dud On Arrival!!!!!

  25. SM

    I’ve done a lot of revising of my CV. But if I may say, I’ve had quite a number of folks tell me it is pretty good. But it is living breathing document and needs to be updated regularly. My objective is for my CV to convey that I am relevant, my skills are sharp and that I am working on projects – school or freelance or spec – to keep challenged and skill sharp.

    Secondly, I want my CV to be a lead in to me telling my professional story and how I am at this current place in my life. I am able to to connect the dots regardless of a disruption in workflow on the CV. I want my activities since my downsizing to show that the downsized span of time is irrelevant.

    I am always looking to improve it, spiff it up, tighten it up and am always ready to hear critique and suggestions for improvement.

  26. AF

    My resume is about a B-. I hate it. I’ve tweaked and tweaked and even paid a well-recommended recruiter $450 to rewrite it. The result? Typos (seriously?) and sentences like this:

    “A strategic thinker with strong tactical aptitude; excel at designing long-term communication strategy and the building the tactics and strategy to support these overall goals and objectives.”

    Was she drunk or merely redundant?

    My questions echo those who posted before me: how to portray gaps, how to write a resume that gets seen through the application software swamp, and whether a resume should be chronological or functional.

  27. Nancy E.

    I would give my resume a grade of B. I have confidence in my experience, but not certain that I showcase it well. I need to include more achievement — what was accomplished, and critical measures. Questions I have:

    1) Grad year or no grad year? Everyone seems to have a different opinion.
    2) How do you best represent long-term contracts of 3-4yrs.
    3) Should you minimize your experience if you want to be happily underemployed at this stage?
    4) how many resumes should you have?

  28. JM

    My resume is a C. Just average. I feel like I have had an evolved and varied career but worry that during this process of finding what I like, two things happened; I job hopped and I never had the opportunity to manage or supervise. Now I am someone with 15 years experience and none managerial and my resume is glaring with that jumpiness and that experience gap.

  29. EE

    I would give my resume a C. It is chronological. I have highlighted my successes but I don’t think it translates well to the administrative work I am applying for. Need to focus. Working on a functional resume.

  30. KE

    I will give mine a grade B maybe…I’ve shown it to a so-called resume expert and she said it was good. She didn’t make any changes except the recommendation to make the font size bigger. But I still think it’s not that great because it’s filled with mostly part-time positions that I had in college, one internship and my fellowship abroad. That’s all the experience that I have since I’m still new to the job market. But sometimes I do change it because of the type of job (I apply to jobs in about three different industries) so I change my objective a lot. But I read somewhere that you don’t need an objective. Overall, I feel like my resume needs work but I really don’t know how to change it.

  31. je

    I also have two resumes. One is strictly chronological and includes positions over the past 15 years. It basically relates what I’ve done where. I would give that one a B- because it highlights the number of temporary and contract assignments I’ve had over the past 3 years. I use this when replying to ads at temporary agencies. I also have one that is accomplishment based that I have had critiqued by several HR people. This one breaks my significant accomplishments down into three categories – financial control, accounting, and people/process management. Then it briefly lists the places I’ve worked. My education is right below my summary on both versions. Since I am not a young person, the fact that I earned my MBA in 2007 with a 3.81 gpa lets the employer know that I’m still capable of intelligent thought & action. I don’t think it’s my resume that is holding me back; I think it’s my cover letter. I really hope to obtain some concrete help in that area from this group.

  32. KE

    Questions I have after listening to the call:

    1) What do you recommend for new grads/recent grads to put on their resume to make it more noticable?
    2) How should you list your volunteer activities on you resume? The same way you would list your jobs(with duties/achievements, etc.) or just a normal list under “volunteer experience” or something like that?
    3) Do you really need an objective on your resume? I heard from some people that you don’t need it.

  33. Mary

    I have two resumes,a short one and a longer one as I am focusing on government agencies. I’d rate both as a ‘B’, as I’ve gotten compliments on it but I feel it’s not really unique.

  34. Barbara Cann

    I didn’t have a chance to do this assignment before the call with Violet. At that time, I would have rated my resume with a solid A-. After the call however, I can see that there’s room for a “reboot” to not only refresh, but improve it.

    Currently it’s 2 pages — on the first I have one sentence of overall qualifications, then bullets for my key strengths in different areas (admin, operational, management, technical) and then my chronological job history going back about 20 years. I know, I know — the norm today is 10 years, but there are things from the earlier jobs I feel are critical to show, mainly because the last few have been too full of basic admin temp/contract jobs and I have much more advanced skills that that. Even going back as far as I do, that’s not the full extent of my professional history.

    The last section I use to list “related professional accomplishments” and this is where I show I’ve been an instructor/trainer, guest speaker, co-founder of two writers’ groups, co-editor of a couple newsletters, and co-coordinator of a writers conference.

    Violet’s comments got me thinking. I’ve been fighting doing more than one resume for different job fields, probably because I’m just so sick of making the little updates to make sure I’ve got the right buzzwords in place. AND the fact that I’ve been so desperate to get SOME kind of decent money-making job (losing my home is not far out of the picture) that I’ve been spreading out my search much like a breaking water balloon spills its water. Perhaps all along I’ve been aiming too low in my scattershot search approach and not giving myself the credit I deserve for the successes I’ve had. After all, if I don’t give enough value to my experience, why would a hiring manager?

    So, now I see that while I LIKE the basic structure of my resume, I can improve on its content. I think I can leave the last section of other accomplishments alone, though perhaps it should be moved?

    Second, in the history section I do have a gap, one in which I cared for my mother for the last two years of her life while she battled Alzheimer’s. Maybe I’m just being stubborn, but I do stand by that as something I did that is of VALUE, and not sitting around on my butt eating bonbons. I’ve even had gaps between contract assignments, and these last few months as I’ve again been job searching, BUT — I have never stopped writing, so I use that as one of my “job listings” and simply use a date range from when I started in the 80s to present.

    To the first section however, I think I see the room for greatest improvement. I use lots of words, words, words — and perhaps straight narrative is not the way to go. After all, in layout an editor always looks for white space so that the thrust of the message stands out to the reader’s eye. I’m now intrigued to study and incorporate some aspect of Violet’s suggestion for using charts and/or graphs — this would definitely give me an edge in the “blam!” of a visual impression to the hiring manager’s eye.

    Got to get to work!

  35. I.S.

    I paid a professional resume writer well over $1,ooo for an executive resume/cover letter. I’ve not had one interview…so I guess that means I wasted money (that I needed) and need to start over.

    How do I include education on my resume if I’m using it to help me get into a new field? I hope this can be answered on tomorrow’s call.

    Thanks for holding this job club Tory!!

  36. mj

    If I have to grade my resume, it would have to be a B- since there are few things I must change and/or add.
    My problem was using the same resume for all job applycations. I think, I have a more clear understanding of what I need to do. I would like to hear what the 2nd part of this workshop has to offer in order to complete my gaps.
    Questions will be asked after that.

  37. je

    After listening to Violet, I have decided that my accomplishment-based resume is worth an A-. I think I need to change my Professional Profile, which is the first bullet point on the resume, to include some of Gretchen’s input. I need to make it more interesting and unique, rather than a catalog of the accounting packages I’ve worked with and a rather boring summary of my qualifications. I still think the actual resume is fairly good, it just needs to be tweaked a little. I’m anxious to hear tomorrow’s discussion.

  38. DWS

    I will give my resume a B+, I have re-done it several times recently.

    Is it important that the resume be only (1) page in length?

  39. Alison

    I’d give my resume a B. I have had several HR people look over my resume and make suggestions. They even said my resume looks good, I would only change X and Y. I’ve heard it’s easy to read and follow, lists great points and shows a solid work history. However, the calls I get are far and few in between. I seem to stand out exceptionally well for hourly retail…I do get called when I have applied to these places. However, this is not what I am truly wanting to do (I needed to find something quick because I was working an internship, then all temps got let go, and I couldn’t collect unemployment.)

    I do need to be more specific to the job description. I have been looking in the marketing field. I’ve used the same resume for marketing and sales; I really didn’t see a problem with this before. It’s difficult for me to be specific. My primary experience is in a retail setting aside from my 2 internships. I have used numbers wherever I could. I need to add some numbers to my current job’s description.

    How do I stand out when I’ve been out of college for over 4 years and have only worked retail and held one internship since graduation? To me, my resume looks like I excelled in school and am un-hirable in a career because I let everything go since (THIS IS NOT THE CASE, JUST HOW FEEL IT LOOKS).

  40. YG

    I would give my resume a solid B. I have worked very hard on it over the last few months. It has been critiqued by just about anyone in a hiring position that I can get to look at it and give me feedback. It includes all the necessary information to give a detailed picture of my work experience and education. I’m not sure what else I can do to it. Im sure there is always room for improvement, I just don’t know where it would be.

  41. Linda

    Wow. Until I saw violet Lowrey’s video on how to write -update your resume at her website I was happy with my resume. She helped me to realize that all the information is there but not in any format that will pin point my objective.
    Now I know it is critically wrong but I’m overwhelmed on how to correct it. Wow – I didn’t know I could get depressed so quickly and feel worse about my chances of getting a job.I’m suddenly feeling frozen in place and without a clear path to follow.

    My biggest problem is that my career spans vastly different jobs, making me a jack of many trades but not an expert in one. Lots of experience but not a single career and currently feeling unsure of how to proceed.

  42. Victoria

    I would give it an A. I had it professionally revised by the (website for jobseekers looking for sales/executive positions starting at $100K/annual) and they did a great job emphasizing my last two B2B sales positions and weaving in my Journalism and writing talents by focusing on my accomplishments. It’s 1.5 pages long. It’s clear, concise and I’ve had many recruiters calling me because of it.

  43. JD

    Resume’s are like opinons everyone has one and the important thing is effectively communicating your experience and knowledge to the RIGHT hiring person. I have tailored my resume’ for each job I apply for which at this point seems like a waste of time. I would grade my an A. After seeking advice from several sources it was recommended I should utilize a trifold brochure as a resume’ which I have done and am waiting to see the results with it.

  44. sad

    i give my resume a c+. i think my resume need some work. i agree with violet about my resume being all over the place. i’m great at many things but right now i’ll work for anything and anyone. so my resume is not geared towards one job in particular.

  45. Gwen

    I have so many resumes that I decided to delete them all and start over. I looked at several books on resume writing and went from a 7 page CV to a 2 page resume. I’d get the new resume a C-. My problem is that I have had to change careers, because of the lack of jobs in the museum field,, and also because I can only find temp work, I have to deal with, so far ineffectively, explaining both a change in career and temp work on my resume. I do gear it toward a specific job, but haven’t gotten any interviews since I changed the career focus. Although when I was applying for museum jobs, I did get called at least!

  46. ST

    Although I update my resume every month to make sure it is relevant I still feel as though there is something missing. In saying that I give my resume a B-. I have my resume on one page and I do feel as though it has all the pertinent information needed but maybe I can rephrase use more effective wording. i don’t know…help!

  47. shw

    My resume is very simple, lists only my experience, clients and education. No descriptions beyond my specialty/what I do, since I send samples of my design work when I send it to a prospective employer. I think it’s a B.

  48. PAL

    I have a resume and a CV. I went to my career center to help me with my CV. I have gotten interviews from my CV. I would give my resume a C+. There are too may duties and not enough accomplishments.

    My question, which I’m sure someone else asked. Do you put your undergraduate college graduation date when it was in the 1970’s?

  49. MJD

    I believe that my resume would receive a C+ because it does need to be updated. This talk by Violet was a big help.

  50. BJ

    My resume is of quality, “A” material. I used bullet point, chronological order by company/position held. Your branding excersice, brought the thought to mind that I should use my brand under my name and contact information. Years ago, it was called “Objective:”

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