Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Adding Some Humanity To Resume Writing – Tips From Dave Teten and Mike Lorelli

Dave Teten’s “Brain Food” Blog is a reliable source of very useful information – often about networking and making useful connections. A recent edition of his newsletter included wisdom from Mike Lorelli, CEO of Latex Foam International.

As an executive recruiter, I receive mountains of resumes – solicited and unsolicited. Anyone in job search mode who wants to have the best chance to partner effectively with a recruiter should learn to see the world through the eyes of the recruiter. The following helpful pointers represent a significant step in that direction.

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Courtesy of Dave Teten and Mike Lorelli, President and CEO of Latex Foam International, the only U.S.-based Talalay latex foam producer, and largest supplier of latex mattress components and pillows in North America. (Full disclosure: I [Dave Teten] edited the first two bullets.)

13 Little Things About Resumes and Emails

1) Cover Letter File Names: recruiters prefer: Lastname-Firstname-2006-cover-letter.doc

2) Your resume file name: recruiters prefer: Lastname-Firstname-2006-resume.doc

3) NEVER send your resume as “resume.doc.” If a recruiter downloads ten emails, and half the people use “resume.doc.” you are dead (and should be!)

4) Your Subject Line must signal that this is not a spam message.

Use CEO-NJ Fragrance Co- Mike Lorelli to concisely signal your purpose.

5) Don’t put a fax # on your resume. Fax is rarely used, and makes you look like a “trailing-edge” person.

6) Don’t use “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE,” unless you plan to list prostitution or other NON-PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE.”

7) Don’t complicate things with the name of the parent corporation, or division name, or whether or not the firm is incorporated. List the parent only if it’s a recognized Fortune company and thereby enhances the Division name.

8) Don’t waste space explaining that PepsiCo is “A leading food and beverage conglomerate with operations in 97 countries.” If the company is recognized, save the space.

9) Omit the STATE, if 99% of the readers will know in what state cities like Boston or Atlanta, Indianapolis, Chicago, etc. are. Ditto for Foreign Cities. Paris, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Montreal.

10) Avoid grid- type fill-in-the-box styles. When viewed electronically, you look like a college senior.

11) Resumes are two pages in length. Anything longer signals that you have poor summarization skills. Alexander Haig’s resume is one page, and he accomplished more than I have.

12) Over 50? Don’t make the mistake of leaving off your year of college graduation. You look pretty silly when (100%) of the people figure it out. In fact, do the opposite! On my cover letters I add a “P.S.” that says:

“ps: I am 52, have an MBA from NYU, 1973, and am an active outside director and trustee”

It’s my way of signaling “52 and proud of it!”

13) Have a PERSONAL section at the end of your resume. Show some personality and some color. People prefer to work with humans, not machines.

Below is my section.


Married. Two precious daughters. Author of children’s best-seller, 'Traveling Again, Dad' with profits donated to children’s charities. Have traveled to 44 countries. Avid runner. Active private pilot. Excel at no sport. Member Business Executives for National Security. WPO.

I get a lot of comments on the “Two precious daughters” and “Excel at no sport” lines.

Other useful websites we recommend:
career acceleration, business acceleration, and paid consulting opportunities for industry experts.
how to sign new clients, raise capital, or even find your dream job with online networks

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Mike Lorelli’s advice is right on the money. I would add a few more:

1) Do not send your resume to a recruiter in .pdf format. It is a pain to deal with in forwarding to prospective employers. Always send as an MS-Word file.

2) If someone has recommended that you contact the recruiter, identify that referral in the subject line to avoid looking like Spam or an unsolicited resume.

3) Do not use inflated and grandiloquent language and meaningless jargon that make you sound like a desperate used car salesman: “Candidate is a highly skilled world-class multi-tasking self-starter who wants to be your next rainmaker!”

4) Be cautious in crafting an “Objective Statement.” In most cases, they are so generic that they say nothing, or so specific that they rule you out of consideration for positions you may otherwise be qualified for. It would be better to have no "Objective" section than to include a poorly written one.

5) Don’t be boring in your resume or cover letter. Show some life, some spark, some imagination, some color.

6) Include e-mail and cell phone contact information.

7) In your cover letter, do not "preach" or pontificate: "In this rapidly-changing business environment, every company needs a forward-thinking leader. I am your man!" It is a complete turn-off and makes you sounds like Al Sharpton on a bad day!

I enthusiastically concur with Lorelli’s contention about adding personal information to your resume. Let me share a couple of real life anecdotes.

I once worked with a candidate who had on his resume, under “Personal,” the following statement: “Unbeatable in Scrabble!” Every recruiter in the world told him to eliminate that phrase from his resume because it was superfluous and fluffy. I, on the other hand, told him to keep it in there. A few weeks later, I was able to present this candidate, along with a few other candidates, to one of my client companies. The hiring manager called and said to me: “I want to meet the candidate who plays Scrabble.” The initial interview went well, and the hiring manager called me back to say: “We want Mike to come back and meet a few more members of the team. Tell him his final interview will involve playing me in Scrabble. If he wins, he is hired!”

Mike did win, and was hired! The Scrabble added some humor, levity and humanity to a process that too often can be humorless, grueling and dehumanizing. I advise candidates to think of their resume as a “truth in advertising” document, as well as seeing it as a tool for screening out employers you would not want to work for. If you are a multi-faceted person whose family and hobbies are an important part of your life, do you really want to work for a company that would be turned off by your including those facts on your resume?

One of my favorite phrases included in a professional resume comes from my friend, John Byington. At the end of his resume, under “Personal,” John has added the following: “Operator of ships, boats, aircraft, parachutes, scuba . . .my sons’ toys.”

With the simple turn of a phrase, John has sent the strong signal to any prospective employer that he is a three-dimensional human being, and that if they choose to hire John, they are not only hiring an Annapolis grad with a Harvard MBA, they are also hiring Nate and Zach’s Dad!


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