Imagine that you are an employer that has recently run a print or online job ad. You are short-handed, behind schedule, and now find yourself inundated with hundreds of resumes in response to a single job opening. Your first priority is to begin eliminating applicants. But, there is no way you can manage to read every single resume. So, what will you do?

Like most employers or recruiters in this trying situation, you will probably hastily scan each resume to see if it merits further consideration. The majority of applicants will quickly be rejected.

However, not every candidate whose resume ends up on the reject pile is a poor fit. Perhaps it is the candidate’s resume that simply doesn’t make the cut. A resume is not just an inventory of past jobs or education. It is an essential marketing document. A poorly written resume is lifeless and uninteresting. It will not move the employer to action.

Think about the compelling brochure or clever television ad that motivated you to make your last purchase. Your resume must have much the same effect on potential employers to be effective. Its sole purpose is to get you to the next step in the hiring process – being invited for an interview.

Start by objectively assessing your resume. How does it rate? If you were a busy employer with hundreds of resumes to review, would it catch your attention? If not, it is time to administer CPR:

• Connection
• Perspective
• Resonance

To get noticed by potential employers, start by creating a clear connection.

Create a Clear Connection

Employers and recruiters are faced with a daunting task. They must assess whether a candidate would be a good fit for the job based on a 30-second or less review of the candidate’s resume. In that initial glance the employer or recruiter is likely looking for the hard (or technical) skills and experience that were outlined in the ad or job description.

A cover letter is essential to making a clear connection between the skills, experience, abilities, and training that the employer has requested and what you have to offer. Use your cover letter to create a seamless bridge between what the employer needs and your skills and experience.

Some employers skip right to the resume. So, be sure to include a profile or summary of qualifications in the top one-third of your resume. The profile is typically a bulleted list that highlights experience, training, and skills that relate directly to the job applied for. This helps the reader to quickly make the connection between your assets and their needs.

The Proper Perspective

Making a clear connection in your cover letter and resume begins with the proper perspective. You are the subject of the cover letter and resume, but it is all about the employer. Create your cover letter and resume with the employer’s perspective in mind.

This means that each cover letter and resume sent should be unique to that employer. Keep your basic cover letter and resume saved on a computer or disk so they can be easily adapted before being sent.

Now that you’ve gotten the employer’s interest by tailoring your resume to their needs, it’s time to keep them reading and motivate them to action.

Create an Emotional Response

Evaluate the impact your resume will have on potential employers. If it is simply a laundry list of past job duties or it is filled with overused resume clichés it will not resonate with the reader. Employers scan dozens of resumes with the same worn-out wordage:

• “Highly professional.”
• “Excellent communications skills.”
• “People person.”
• “Team player.”

It is easy to see how these overused words and phrases quickly become meaningless to employers and recruiters. Instead of resorting to unoriginal phrases, give the employer specifics that will evoke a response, preferably ones that can be quantified. Compare the following phrases:

1. Possess strong customer service skills.
2. Earned company-wide customer service award.

1. Team player.
2. Delegated daily projects for five-person team.

1. Sales oriented.
2. Increased customer accounts by 20% in six months.

The first phrase offers generalities while the second presents specific examples that clearly define your value and resonate with potential employers. Providing concrete benefits tells employers what they can expect and it is more likely to move them to action.

If you are preparing for a career transition or actively engaged in a job search that isn’t getting results, it may be time to breathe new life into your old resume. If your resume isn’t getting you noticed, it’s time to administer CPR.

To learn about other common mistakes that can easily derail your chances of securing your dream job, register for the complimentary e-course, Five Job Search Mistakes Top Candidates NEVER Make and How to Avoid Them at

Author's Bio: 

Roxanne Ravenel is a Job Search Strategist & Coach and the host of The Savvy Jobseeker Podcast. She teaches job seekers to improve their resumes, strengthen interview skills, make a better first impression and implement a customized self-marketing plan. Visit the Job Search Strategy Lab ( to learn more.