The real goal of the resume in a job hunt and why yours isn’t generating a response

resume goal
Keep your eye on the goal

What is the real goal of the job resume?

After reviewing 1000’s of resumes, we at Career Tracker can confidently conclude that most candidates don’t understand the real purpose of a job resume. Most resumes are created with the intention of landing a job offer. The best thing to realize when hunting for a job is that the resume is not going to land you a job offer. Let us say that again another way. Do not write the resume with the intent of landing a job offer.

If you are wondering if we are crazy than this blog post is for you! The number one mistake most candidates make with their job resume is writing the resume with the hopes of landing a job offer. This is not the goal of the resume.

So what is the goal of the resume? 

Plain and simple, goal 1 of the job resume is to pique enough interest in us as a candidate to generate an initial phone call. Remember, we are not going to receive a job offer after a hiring manager reads our resume. What the right job resume will do is generate an initial phone call where a recruiter will ask us some very high-level questions. These questions will include questions about:

  • salary requirements
  • why we are leaving our last job
  • long-term goals
  • strengths and weaknesses

If you have not received any calls on your job resume than it probably wasn’t written with the right goal in mind.

Most common job resume mistake

The most common resume mistake is that candidates include their entire job history is thinking more is better. We are only going to generate a call if the job resume:

  • is easy to read
  • points to the key bullet points on the job description

The key is quality vs. quantity. Quality bullets answer the job description bullets. 

Everything else will be ignored. Experience more than 5 -7 years old will probably lead us to a job and salary that are equivalent to that junior role we held 7 years ago. We want to list older experience to show how many years of experience we have, but we want to emphasize the most recent experience. Your most recent experience is the probably the experience that is most relevant to the job of interest. The experience we gained 7 years ago is probably not relevant to the current job of interest.

Job Progression on your job resume

There is a very easy way to emphasize current job experience and de-emphasize older job experience. Let’s say you have a 15-year career in banking and are applying for a job as a Bank Manager at a medium-sized bank. Your career trajectory may have looked like this, most recent experience to oldest experience:

  • Bank Manager at a small bank
  • Assistant Bank Manager at a small bank
  • Manager of bank tellers
  • The Assistant Manager of bank tellers
  • Bank Teller

Make use of the list of accomplishments within each position judiciously

  • Bank Manager: List 5-7 bullets from your experience (this experience will be the most relevant to the job description.)
  • Assistant Bank Manager: List 4-5 bullets from your experience
  • Manager of Bank Tellers: List 2-3 bullets from your experience
  • Assistant Manager of Bank Tellers: List 2 bullets from your experience
  • Bank Teller: List a single bullet from your experience

This format puts an emphasis on your most recent experience. This is the experience that is most relevant to the job description of interest. It also provides the reader with the proof point that we have been in the industry for the 10 years required for the senior position.

Job progression

Lastly, this will give the illusion of job progression. With more bullets listed in our most recent experience, it will appear that we have been growing our career by doing more and more with each successive role held.

Remember, the more accomplishments we can list that directly answer the job description the better. There is very little chance that any of the bullets from the Bank Teller, Assistant Manager of Bank Tellers or Manager of Bank Tellers is going to be relevant to the Bank Manager position. The older experience is just diluting the reader’s interest from the most relevant experience, which is usually the most recent experience.

Use the relevant vernacular

Using the exact vernacular that the job description uses will only help. If the job description asks for customer success accomplishments, and we were in a customer service unit, we should list customer success accomplishments.

Does this mean you may have more than one job resume? Absolutely! No two jobs are the same and so no single job resume will fit more than one job description. If you have been submitting a single resume to multiple positions, you are just hoping that your single resume is matching up with that elusive position. The odds of this are very limited. You can increase your odds of matching your job resume with a specific role when you tailor the resume to the job description. You should have a different resume for every job applied for!

Career Tracker will help you not only create multiple resumes with our Resume Builder but help you keep track of the various resumes you have in play via the Job Application Tracker.

Key Takeaway: When you are creating a resume, remember, the goal isn’t to land a job, the goal is to show we are interesting enough for the first high-level call. The goal of the resume is to get us through the first filter and past the gatekeeper. At this point in the job search, we aren’t trying to prove our way to an offer but to pique interest.

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