Do I Look Desperate in This Résumé?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I get sent a lot of résumés. Sometimes they are a response to a position with a client I am working on, sometimes they are unsolicited submissions to my company, sometimes they are part of a formal procurement process, and one time I was even handed one at a cocktail reception.

The résumé, or curriculum vitae (CV) in some parts of the world, is the document by which we communicate our talents and interests to the world. Combined with a cover letter, it focuses those abilities to a particular need (expressed, implied or hoped for) and explains why we are the best person to meet that need.

Yet a résumé has another, sometimes unintended consequence. It sends a message about you that goes beyond simply stating you want to work in a particular position, and that is something you need to be aware of.

There is no shortage of advice online about how to maximize your chances of standing out in a crowded candidate field. There are lists of buzzwords you should use to ensure automated filters send your application to the top, and just as many lists of words you should avoid (often with the same words as the “must use” category). This leads to a résumé that is tailored to stand out in a computerized screening process--but then becomes completely unsuitable for demonstrating to the human being who is looking to …

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"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them."

- Mark Twain

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