Jenny Jenny is Not a Good Email Address

jennyI recently reviewed resumes at the National Career Fair in New York City and I was amazed at  the number of people that use very complex and hard to remember email addresses on their resumes. The addresses reminded me of the Tommy Tutone 80s hit Jenny about a boy who falls for a girl named Jenny and keeps repeating her phone number (probably in an effort to remember it).

Employers may not be as keen to remember your email and an email address that is difficult to key such as one with many characters, random letters that don’t form a recognizable word, or a series of numbers is bound to cause trouble when an employer is trying to contact you. Keep it simple. Create an email that has either your first and last name or first initial and last name. If you have a common name, add your middle name as well rather than numbers. Try to limit the number of extra characters whenever possible. Less is more when it comes to email addresses.

Google is Great for Many Things…But Not for Writing a Resume

I just set up a new stand out private email account through gmail and I’m exploring all my Google account has to offer. They have some great templates for time management, scheduling, and budgeting…for all the things I need to organize and no one else needs to see.

They also have dozens of resume templates and I’ve seen just about every one of them come through my Career Solvers site where I offer free resume critiques. And they always look horrible.

Templates are great for creating processes and minimizing the effort of creating a format from scratch every time you need to track something. They are not great for developing one of the most important marketing tools you will ever write. I looked up the definition of template and here is the explanations I found. “Templates are pre-existing forms that include standard text and spaces to fill-in-the-blanks with standard information.”  Hmm. Doesn’t sound like a great strategy for a job seeker who is trying to differentiate himself during a search.

If you are writing a resume, skip the template approach. Chose a design that emphasizes your strengths and doesn’t force you to put your qualifications into a prefabricated form. Dare to be different and break away from the pack. And if you need some ideas to get the creative juices flowing, check out Happy About My Resume to jump start the process.

Functional Resumes Should Be Renamed Dysfunctional Resumes

wrongToday at the National Career Job Fair in New York City, someone showed me a resume and asked for a critique. The resume had absolutely no chronology; no company names, position titles, or dates of employment. When I asked her why this information was omitted, she replied by saying, “I don’t need to include that information; it’s a functional resume.”

Many years ago, someone came up with the idea of the functional resume; a resume that merely focused on functional skills and eliminated all references to employment experience. The logic was that this would better display a candidate’s transferable functional skills and eliminate the need to explain away problems in the person’s chronology such as employment gaps or experience that wasn’t related to the job target.

But at its core, the functional resume is truly dysfunctional. Recruiters and hiring managers are immediately suspect of resumes without a chronology and few will even bother to review them. Most will draw their own conclusions about why certain information was omitted and you will never get a chance to explain your strategy. So by eliminating the information you were trying to hide, you have actually called more attention to the fact that it is missing.

So what do you do if you are transitioning careers or have an employment gap that would be glaring on a chronological resume? Go for what’s called a combination format. Use functional categories to show your relevant skills and accomplishments but supplement that with an abbreviated chronology that shows company names, job titles, and employment dates.  Whenever possible, explain employment gaps right on the resume with brief explanations such as “company downsized” or “left position to care for a sick parent.” It is always better to be transparent because it reduces the liklihood that the reader will draw their own conclusions from your omissions.

Also, keep in mind, that if you are focusing on your functional skills because you are making a career transition, a resume alone may not be enough to validate that transition. Everyone in a job search needs supporters, but career changers and people with questionable chronologies need them even more.  A piece of paper can’t always explain away all the questions a hiring authority may have about your qualifications for a job where you have limited experience. Career changers build that type of trust by asking people close to the decision makers to make introductions and advocate for their candidacy. Once that is achieved, the resume can be used to help support their value proposition.

So if you’ve been leaning towards creating a functional resume to position yourself in front of a potential employer, you are probably headed in the wrong direction. Create a combination format and build a network of “cheerleaders” that can help you gain the right introductions to move towards your new career path.

5 Pieces of Stupid Resume Writing Advice



Over the years as a career professional, I’ve had clients tell me about some pretty bad resume writing advice they have received. Here are the top 5.

  1. List your most recent employment as current even if your employment has been terminated. This advice probably stems from the fact that people believe they are more desirable to an employer if they are currently employed. But employment dates can be checked with one phone call. Why jeopardize your credibility by showcasing inaccurate information? Honesty is still the best policy. A better strategy is to include a brief description of why you are no longer employed (i.e. downsizing, office closing, etc.)
  2. Omit graduation dates. Some people think that if you omit your graduation date you eliminate the chances of the reader figuring out your age. Maybe, but at the same time, leaving this information off might lead them to conclude that you are trying to hide your age and this will raise a red flag. So by leaving the dates off, you are actually calling more attention to the very thing you are trying to distract your reader from. Be transparent. Include graduation dates. If the reader truly has a bias against your candidacy because of your age, this probably isn’t the right company for you. If you are concerned about potential age bias, research the companies that embrace older workers and target those employers directly.
  3. Include all hobbies. A better strategy is to only include hobbies that have relevance to your job target. Most hiring authorities don’t really care if you enjoy reading and cooking. But if you have a hobby that you are passionate about that correlates to the job you are applying for, then I say go for it.
  4. Be sure to keep your resume to one page. Whether your resume is one page or 30 pages, no one is actually reading it. They are scanning it to quickly determine your value proposition and potential fit within their organization. Focus on making that clear on either one or two pieces of paper. Include a headline that showcases your professional identity, a profile that communicates the big picture of what you can do for an employer, an areas of expertise section that details your skills, and themed competency categories that focus on your most important accomplishments.
  5. Eliminate jobs you held more than 15 years ago. Most hiring authorities and recruiters in particular will want to know the whole chronology. If you have an extensive career history, focus on the past 15 years of employment and create a separate, abbreviated category for your early experience. But don’t act like that early part of your life never happened.

What Not to Do on a Resume

Thoroughly enjoying JobSnob’s feed on Twitter: What not to do if you are trying to land a new job. The most recent tweets are about resumes. You can follow her at

Happy About My Resume on Blog Talk Radio

radioYesterday I was interviewed by Krishna De on Blog Talk Radio. Given the current state of the economy, job security is on everyone’s minds and now is certainly the time to dust off and update your resume. During my interview, I discussed

  • The 5 biggest resume mistakes
  • Strategies for create a compelling profile
  • 3 tips for writing accomplishment statements
  • The role of web resume portfolios in today’s job market

…and much, much more. You can listen to the show here.

Here’s My Resume…So What?

Most resumes read like job descriptions and fail to distinguish the candidate from their competition. They are often chock full of routine tasks with no indication of the value the person brought to the job. Here are some typical statements I see on resumes.

  • Generated ad hoc reports for senior management
  • Typed correspondence and managed director’s calendar
  • Delivered sales presentations to prospects
  • Managed budgeting, financial reporting, and all accounting activities 

Here’s a simple test to assess the effectiveness of your resume. Read each statement and ask yourself “so what?” In other words, ask yourself why that activity was important, how it added value to the organization, or how it helped the company make money, save money, or save time. If your original statement does not adequately answer one of those questions, it is probably too focused on job tasks and not enough on accomplishments. The best resume statements indicate impact and quantify that impact using numbers, dollars, or percentages. Remember, the job task itself is not what makes you valuable to an employer…it is your unique accomplishment within that task that will get them to sit up and take notice.

Is Your Resume a Turkey?

Read my Thanksgiving post on resume mistakes and find out.

Enough With the Resume Fluff!

Nine out of every ten resumes I receive lead with a profile statement that is full of what I call resume fluff...statements of personal attributes that are boring, do nothing to differentiate the candidate, and are frankly, just a waste of space. Here are some typical profile statements I see on resumes.

Results-oriented professional with diversified experience and demonstrated strengths in project/team management and operations. Meticulous, methodical, and focused on managing initiatives, staff, setting and exceeding metrics. Excellent communication and presentation skills.”

Highly motivated, creative and orderly individual with widespread experience. Excellent communication, time management and multi-tasking skills.”

An MBA graduate with a successful record of achievement within the publishing industry. A creative problem solver used to working with a customer focused environment and experienced in building positive client relationships. Proven leadership communication and interpersonal skills, able to manage and motivate a team. Highly proactive and results driven.”

Do these profiles “wow” you or are you left saying duh! Probably the later. Employers expect you to be a creative problem solver…they assume you are customer focused and you have excellent communication skills. What employers want is proof of these attributes…statements that brand you professionally, explain your business environments and expertise, and validate your ability to impact the organization. For example:



Insurance – Reinsurance – Alternative Investments – Financial and Insurance Technology Products

  • 15+ year career building business development relationships with C-suite executives at insurance and technology companies, hedge funds, and broker-dealer firms.
  • Over a decade of experience underwriting and brokering sophisticated insurance and reinsurance programs and products for nationally recognized, multimillion-dollar accounts.
  • Expertise sourcing, pitching, and closing deals that leverage leading-edge technologies to increase revenues for insurance companies by millions of dollars annually.


Turnaround Expert – Brand Vision and Transformation – Global Retailers


  • General Manager/Division Head with experience managing all facets of the retail and wholesale environment.
  • Adept at returning struggling retailers to profitability by streamlining processes, meticulously monitoring customer pulse, and building pay-for-performance sales teams.
  • Success reinventing product lines, expanding brand reach, and tapping into new lucrative revenue streams.
  • Collaborative business partner with track record for fostering relationships with third party retailers, corporations, vendors, and employees to deliver sustainable ROI and gain new market share.

Get rid of the resume fluff and get to the meat. Remember that hiring managers are reviewing hundreds of resumes for their open positions. Do you really want to look like everyone else?

How to Avoid the Dreaded Resume Typo

I recently saw a panel presentation with five college recruiters from five of the country’s top employers. Hands down, their biggest pet peeve when it comes to resumes is typos. Many recruiters and hiring managers agree that having a typo on a resume is the fastest way to get placed in the “no” pile. It can be hard to review your own resume. By the time you finish it, you are so close to the situation that it can be hard to spot errors. Here are a few suggestions for catching those pesky typos.

  1. Use spell-check wisely. Spell-check is a great tool, but supplement spell-check with several human rounds of proofreading.
  2. Read the document backwards. Doing so forces you to slow down and pay attention to each word rather than skimming the sentence.
  3. Ask a friend or trusted colleague to proofread the document. It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes will spot.
  4. Get an 8th grade English teacher to read your resume. OK, maybe they are harder to come by, but if you know one, grab them. They will know it all when it comes to spelling and grammar.