Does This Resume Make Me Look Fat?

Most job seekers I meet have some sort of "special circumstance" or blemish on their resume that they feel makes them unattractive to a hiring manager. For some, it's accounting for the dot-com they worked for that went bust after nine months or the year they took off from work to care for an aging parent or newborn. For others it's that "what the heck was I thinking when I took that job" faux pas or the "my boss was a raging lunatic and I had to get out fast" scenario.

Since almost everyone has at least one of these "special circumstances," they really aren't that special -- they are a part of life and part of most people's career journey. When crafting a compelling resume, the trick is to tell the story of your career path in a way that focuses on your best assets and makes you shine.

When we purchase clothing, we make decisions on what to buy based on what we think will best complement our greatest assets. We don't say, "My thighs are huge, so let me find a pair of pants that accentuates that."

But most of the resumes that job seekers write for themselves seem to do just that. They often scream "look at my mistakes" or yell "I know it's hard to figure out why I took this job, but here it is." They give equal blocks of information about each of the positions they have held regardless of the importance each position has to their target audience or the relevance of that position to their overall career strategy. When information is questionable or missing, employers come to their own conclusions about what really happened. And this bias could cost you the interview.

It doesn't have to be that way. I advocate for full disclosure on a resume -- listing all positions and explaining moves and leaves of absence when appropriate. It is perfectly acceptable to explain that you left a position to care for a family member (yes, right on the resume) or to explain that your position was terminated due to a layoff, company closing, etc. And while you wouldn't explain the "my boss was evil" scenario on a resume, there are ways to focus on your contributions in the position and call less attention to the short tenure.

We have one body and we make decisions every day on how to dress it in an effort to put our best foot forward. Doesn't it make sense to take your career story and dress it well to put your best foot forward in your job search?

Next: Three Major Missteps That Could Jeopardize Your Job Search >>


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Joe

This country [USA] like all the countries before us who dominated the world is now on its way down the drain. We have problems with our government, unemployment, immigration, crooked politicians,drugs,gambling in almost all states, sexual prediators of all sorts, including in the religious sector as well as the private sector, a president who is trying to turn this country towards socialism, am economey that is sliping away because of the free trade deals made by the former presidents and upheld by the present leaders of this country. I wonder what country is next to become the world superpower after we screw this country up?

July 05 2010 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nivek48

I am observing a wide variety of hostility and class envy on this board. Those with degrees express their disdain for those without. I earned a great living in civil engineering without attending college, and just having a sheepskin does not make someone better than another. In many cases, it only means they learned how to study and research. We are now all in the same boat, equally unemployed with little or no hope of any change in the forseeable future. Good folks, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in an untenable situation, and don't know where to turn. Finger pointers are ALWAYS quick to blame the previous administration, rather than facing the truth or reality. America has fallen into the hands of progressives, those hell bent on the destruction of our nation and the rapid transformation to the nanny state. Government is totally out of hand, and they are the only ones adding jobs. You know what really would be fair? If congressman and senators took a 50% pay cut to show they want to be part of the solution. You won't see that, and they collect huge salaries for part time jobs!
Admit it or not, everything this administration is doing now is destroying our country. Don't like it? Go to the polls in November and stop the lunacy dead in it's tracks. Hope and change is not! You were sold a bill of goods from Clower and Piven, and the lunacy will continue until the system is flushed. I't not going to fix itself, you must take the initiative to correct the situation, and not blame it on previous administrations. Anything Bush or others did has no bearing on what these people are doing to our country NOW. It's all part of the playbook, and you will pay the price for their seditious actions. Nanacy, Harry, Barak, and the rest of the calluders will keep systematically working to divide us all. It's working too, as the last thing they want is for us to unite and take a stand. We have no hope of returning the US power to THE PEOPLE until we all stand as one, and put this absurd collusion and deception to rest for good! Either take a stand for America, or just sit on your butts and watch us all fail!

July 05 2010 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dj

Perfect.
Drew, what a great example of what I am talking about.
Just like I say about our Harvard and other Ivy league graduates in Congress, Senate, Executive branch, spokespeople and the media.
First, just like them, you use the term "nikcuf idiot". It's like the words "get fotigated". Who knows what it really means. Very easy to claim you did not know what it meant, if necessary. Good job.
Then you say, "I would say more..but you don't..genius. And finally, when no good arguments exist, no evidense or even an answer provided they say "but that's all your worth". Boy, that comment really stops the conversation.
How can I debate/argue with any of your comments? You're one of the best.
Did you graduate an Ivy league college?

July 05 2010 at 8:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
william pazdon

OK barbara I have a docterate and having had to teach and deal with the college education process I will tell you what my mentors told me one day while discussing how to start a new program for the federal goverment ! They said that all the colleges in the united states are full of of people that are great at homework but cant think outside the box!!! The way you talk I can tell that you are one of those lemmings!!!

July 04 2010 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jack

you are all tupid and have nothing beter to do with your time. I am just as stupid as you all to be spending useless time here too.

July 04 2010 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Maureen

It is not just an employer's market, it is a market for exploitation! I have been in admin type jobs for over 20 years and have a decent work history. I saw a job in the paper the other day for a "Saturday receptionist, MS Office, able to assist in preparing presentations, other office duties as required as well as janitorial duties". In other words, they think because we are so desperate we are willing to work on Saturday's typing in between cleaning the toilets...sad thing is some hungry fool will take that job because that is all they can get! That is exploitation not employment!

July 04 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marie

I learned an interesting hint about applying for jobs online. They use computer programs that look for resumes that mimick words found in the job description. For example, some programs will toss out resumes that use less than 20 such "keywords". Those resumes will never reach a human's desk! The resumes that do get seen by a person are quickly eyeballed. Again, use as many of the keywords as possible and be 100% sure your job obejective matches the title of the job opening. Good luck all.

July 04 2010 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marie's comment
audra

i work at a DOL retraining center and this is exactly what our counselors tell our participants. Using 'key words' in your on-line resume will give you a greater chance of an interview. Agreed. Best of luck, job-seekers.

July 04 2010 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pam

Here's a suggestion - everytime you go to a convenience store (or any other store really), look at the car tags. See if there is a State Representative or Congressional tag on one of them and go hunt that person down. I did. I was in the convenience store last week and I parked next to an SUV with a State Representative tag on it. I found out who it was in the store and I started talking to him about how I was in my 7th month of being unemployed. He offered to help and actually said I could use him as a reference. I don't know what he could say about me - maybe I looked good without makeup (I had been working in the yard), but it was nice of him to offer. And I did e-mail him my resume. Of course, he's up for re-election in November!

July 04 2010 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dj

David,
Wow, a little sensitive..and a poor reader..get a hold of yourself.
Sorry, Clinton's "I did not have sex" always sticks in my mind and President Obama current "nobody making under $250,000 will see any new taxes during my term", are real crowd pleasers.
Did you miss me mentioning "Harvard and OTHER Ivy league college law school graduates ( I think this applies to Bush),members of Congress,Senate,Executive Branch
and government spokespeople. I think this really covers Republicans, Democrates and even especially Journalist.
Need more be said.

July 04 2010 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

The problem is not the resume anymore. The problem is technology makes everyone, including employers, look for an easy was to make everything come out perfect & find perfect employees. Employers are turning more & more to stupid pre-employment computer testing instead of just getting to know candidates. HR reps have become extremely lazy over the years & companies are more likely than ever to hire HR reps that dont know anything about the industry they are in. There is nothing worse than being in an interview and explaining you work experience to someone that really has no idea what you are talking about because they know nothing about the industry or they ask you a speculative question that you have to answer without knowing company policies regarding that particular senario. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, not agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree?

July 04 2010 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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