Success Sells

A hiring manager or a recruiter is seeking a candidate for a sales and marketing position. He has about 175 resumes that have been pulled by the HRIS system that match the keywords he has used for his search. He sits down and starts glancing at resumes. The average time he spends on a resume is 45 seconds before moving to the next. If he looks at every single resume, doesn’t take a break or slow down, and is not interrupted, it will take him a little over an hour and a half to look at all of them. By the time he gets to number 34, they are all starting to look alike, sound alike, and seem the same.


First of all, a good portion of them have summaries that are just mush. They are crammed with trite phrases such as “results-oriented”, “detail-driven”, “excellent communicator” and “proven track record”. Or how about “enthusiastic leader”, “relationship builder” or “outstanding ability”? The hiring manager has seen these phrases so many times that he pays no attention to them and lends them no weight. He wonders why everyone writes the same thing over and over in a summary and never tells him what he wants to know, specifically: job level, industry, expertise category, and number of years’ experience. These facts are the core information that is needed in those short 45 seconds he glances at the resume before moving to the next one.


Next, he thinks about job descriptions. “Responsible for…” and “Duties included…” ring in most of the resumes. He thinks “Yeah, I’m responsible for taking out the trash at home, too, and I don’t always do it. Tell me what you DID!” Job description is important because it tells the hiring manager if the candidate has done past work that is similar to what the new position will entail. Job description also sets the stage for accomplishments and creates a platform for the results statements. The hiring manager glances at the first line of the job description of the current resume in line and yawns. Same old, same old. He’s now read it about 37 times in the previous resumes.


On resume 52, he finds a different approach in the content. The summary is written succinctly and gives him the information he needs without a lot of flowery prose mixed in designed to persuade the reader of the candidate’s ability to walk on water. The job descriptions are accurate and to the point without going into minute detail on every low-level activity the candidate did in the job (such as “attended meetings”). What really grab his attention are the bullet statements. This candidate was a real performer! He closed multi-million dollar deals with Fortune 100 companies. He boosted revenues by 32%. He closed 95% of all contracts. And he did all this in a shrinking market. Now THIS candidate is worth speaking to! The resume is pulled out and put in the “contact” pile.


What made the difference? All the candidates of the 175 resumes were qualified for the job in terms of experience and education level. Most were resumes for candidates at the correct level – not many under-qualified or overqualified. 


The difference was that the resume did two things. First, it gave the reader what he was seeking quickly and clearly without fluff language and without overselling the soft skills. Second, it had quantitative data that demonstrated ability. It told the reader the candidate not only had sales experience but had SUCCESS experience. Success sells.

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