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Your Resume Is Not About You (It’s About The Employer)

28 Nov, 2016

Your Resume Is Not About You (It’s About The Employer)

True, your resume is about the employer.

Resumes have become known to many people as simply a list of your jobs and the duties you performed. If you think of resumes this way, it’s okay. It’s not your fault. There’s a lot of free advice out there that will tell you that. This perspective, unfortunately, is setting your resume up to be overlooked.

Yes, you need to list your job history and duties, of course. The overall goal of your resume though should not be to just list your qualifications and promote yourself. The goal of your resume should be to demonstrate what you have achieved and how you can solve your prospective employer’s problems. If you can solve a problem for an employer, you’ll have a job.

Before you apply to another job, ask yourself what potential challenges this employer might have. Then look at your resume again and ask yourself if your resume (and cover letter) show how you can address those challenges. If you change nothing else on your resume, change this. Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager reading the resume. What they are thinking about when they read your resume is this: “How can this person contribute to our bottom line and solve our problems?” Remember, it’s not really about you, it’s about them.

Let’s look at an example. In my career, I’ve applied for human resources and recruiting positions. What are some of the challenges someone would face in those positions? Managing a high volume of job postings at once is an example. Or, competing with other companies for talent. I would want to make sure that my resume and cover letter convey my understanding of those challenges and how I can solve them. The best opportunity to do this is when you are crafting the descriptions of each of your positions. As you do this, it’s paramount that you focus on what you achieved, not what you did. There’s a big difference between these two.

Here’s an example:

  • What you did is this: “Attend career fairs to recruit new summer interns.”
  • What you achieved is this: “Recruited and hired 10 new interns within three months by developing successful partnerships with neighboring universities and attending industry-specific career fairs and events.”

The second bullet is far more descriptive and tells me not just what you did, but how successful you were at it. This is why I advise my clients so strongly to tailor their resume to each job they apply to. Not every employer’s challenges are the same. Taking 20 minutes to refocus your resume to each job will pay dividends in terms of your response rate.

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3 Comments on "Your Resume Is Not About You (It’s About The Employer)"

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Jamie Goekler

Great article, Lorraine. I takes me as much as an hour to target my resumes to the employer’s job description. I have yet not to get a call-back. It’s not about your skills; it’s about what the employer is seeking in an employee that counts.


Jamie, are you using a cover letter with your resume? If not, I recommend do so. Unlike a resume, a cover letter gives you an opportunity to build rapport with the person reviewing your resume.

Also, it’s important to follow up. Stating that you’ll touch base in about a week to ensure they received your resume at the end of your cover letter works is a plus because it shows the employer you’re taking an active role in your job search. Hope this helps. 🙂