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Don't become ‘Resume Roadkill’: the ‘3 Keys’ to a truly stunning (and effective) Resume

At any time that you consider taking advice or direction from another, you should understand where that advice comes from, and what informs its conclusions.

The winning advice I'm about to share with you on resumes comes from my many years on a desk as a traditional ‘headhunter’, covering 3 different disciplines, 2 of which were ‘national market’ (placing individuals anywhere across the country) and 1 of which was ‘local market’ Manhattan. I also spent 3 1/2 years training all of the new recruiters across a 100-office recruiting system, and now for the last 8+ years as a top New York Career Coach.

I’ve given 100s of lectures at the New York Public Library, at the New York State Department of Labor, and for organizations such as Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and the Harvard Business School Club of NYC, along with presentations at a number of universities.

Other factors to consider, before any of that experience: I was a hiring manager in corporate, and before that I ran a pre-press service bureau –which simply means I truly do understand line, type and spacing and its effect on communications on paper and in the digital world. It’s a unique combination you will not find elsewhere.

In my time on that desk as a recruiter, I had to solve the ‘one crucial element’ missing, in addition to finding the very best-of-the-best candidates for each role. 

The singular item to be solved was the universal problem I discovered across every level of individual and background.

I have worked with or placed on the administrative professional level, all the way to CEO and everywhere in between. That covers Wall Street, pharmaceutical, medical device, engineering, sales, marketing and nearly everything else imaginable as a career coach.


What I will teach you next comes directly out of seeing what hiring managers choose, not what they ‘say they desire’ –but what they actually select and find irresistible. 


Use these secrets to redevelop your resume and you will very likely find the same stunning results that I have found with my own clients.

Today, there's a terrible elephant in the room that we must talk about. 

It kills me having to say this so often at the New York Public Library: no one wants to read

And that's the end of that sentence. Yes, it portends awful things for our future as a society, and I wish I could fix that. But, if you understand that no one wants to read, then why would you put a sentence on a resume?

Ponder that thought as I share a little more about the universal challenge every individual faces regardless of their level.


Whether the administrative professional, director or manager, senior executive or in the very top leadership roles, the universal problem is that no one is capable of telling their own story effectively.


We are so emotionally close to the story that we have lived, it deeply colors our ability to see it with the perspective necessary to create the winning narrative and position our value effectively in the minds of the reader.

And, by the way, we have just seconds to accomplish that task. 

If we are unable to accomplish the task effectively, our resume will end up in ‘stack 2’ or ‘stack 3’ in the sorting process (with 1000s of resumes being sent in for any decent job).

So, how do we avoid our resume becoming ‘resume roadkill’?


You are a Product Too!


Position it, market it, sell it. (that's you & your career)

1) Control Your Narrative & Make it ‘Visual’

I don't mean literally, by adding logos, pictures or gimmickry. One-trick ponies don't work very well.

I mean communicate with visual language that causes the reader to visualize your career as quickly as their eyes scan across your resume.

In order to control your narrative, you're going to have to think about who you are, and what you offer. Not simply about what you have done.


Duties and responsibilities are like doodie. 


No one is really interested, and if you are right for this job, they very likely already understand what your duties and responsibilities are. Talk about what you have done; what you have accomplished; how you've contributed; and how you've changed the organization.

But, do so with concept communication, rather than sentence structure.


Quite literally… you're going to have to ‘take the work away’ for the reader in a world where are no one wants to read. 


More on that a little later.

2) Distill it Down to a Single Page – In ALL Cases

Yes, I've heard every argument on this over many years. The only person that cares about a CV format (that ever-glorious long form resume that senior executives have been told, or otherwise convinced that they need)… are either themselves, their mothers or their spouses. This goes for any multi-page format too.

“But with this level of experience, you've earned a ‘larger telling’ of your story”

Nonsense, what they've earned is to be employed by the very best employer, one that can leverage those talents and compensate them in exceptional ways. That has nothing to do with the CV format.


What every individual needs no matter their level, role or responsibility, is: A single-page resume that can be absorbed with in 3 to 5 seconds.

One that leaves the ‘reader’ visually imagining your entire foundation, career and contributions –creating that necessary ‘desire and excitement’ about you as their very best ‘next hire’!


It can be daunting to distill your narrative down to just the ‘nuggets of gold’ or the ‘essence of the perfume’.

Most of us live inside of the little box that either we have constructed for ourselves, or allowed others to project upon us –until it becomes a very real prison for our career. Until we can only be seen in a certain way, and for certain roles. How limiting those walls can be.

You're going to have to think outside of this box to open up the pathways to your career destiny.


Don't let somebody else Think for Yourself


Do a deep dive interview, really much more of an interrogation of yourself and rediscover every single point of potential value that you have lost or dismissed as insignificant over the years.

Only once you can see the ‘full picture’ of who you are as a 3-dimensional human being, can you possibly consider how to construct the narrative.

Every single thing you share must be letter true.

But, having grown up Catholic, I understand the difference between the sin of commission and the sin of omission. There is no sin of omission on your resume, only the sin of commission.

Leave out any part of your story that you desire to (the parts that do not help you reach your goal). But, make sure every single piece included is ‘letter true’, and can never be called into question.

This ability to distill your story, your narrative, and control it is the 2nd key that you must grasp.

3) Format it so Your Career can be Visualized within Seconds

Similarly as difficult, is grasping a very new format necessary for today’s ‘short attention span’ world so that your resume could possibly be ‘read’ in 3 to 5 seconds.

Pick up your current resume. Look at yourself with fresh eyes as if you do not know this individual. Give yourself the maximum of the 5 full seconds.

That's one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, one-thousand-four, one-thousand-five. That's the maximum amount of time you will have before your resume is placed into 1 of 3 stacks.


Your resume must make it into stack #1 if it is ever (statistically) to be looked at again.


When I speak and teach various audiences these secrets, the majority look up after this exercise as if they were deer caught in the headlights.

Stunned and frozen, realizing they can't tell themselves very much at all about this individual that is in their hands. If you can't understand your own value in 5 seconds… how is it possible someone else could understand your value when they haven't even lived your journey?

Understanding that ‘no one wants to read’, you will approach your resume and its format in a very different way.


No sentence structure, anywhere on the page.

Everything conveyed through concept communications.


The reader wants to know:

1) Who you are (that's your name)

2) Employer / Title – Employer / Title – Employer / Title 

(the 3-4 most recent will determine the majority of your value)

3) Your educational background


Right or wrong, the Value Conclusion about you is based on their ‘opinion’ of:

• The companies that you've worked for

• What they ‘imagine’ you’ve done (without reading the details)

• Your educational background


Be sure your format hands the reader those 3 elements without interference. 

Then, understand how to use your bullet points in a much more effective way with the right touch of bold, or underline and sometimes even italics.


The goal for your bullet points is allowing the reader to glance across each bullet, and have it be ‘visually imprintable’ in their brain without reading.


Other items of insignificance should not distract the reader.

Your contact information is the least important information on the entire page. 

When they get excited about your value… they will find your contact information on the page. Make it a single line, not stacked up like a ‘layer cake’, eating up valuable real estate on 1-page resume. Just the city and state, as you're not going to be hired because you live at ‘123 Any Street’. Include your LinkedIn Profile URL, your email, and your cell phone (as you don't want to miss that call!).

By the way, those endless collections at the top of your resume, be they core competencies or skill sets or any other lists are not helping you.

Yes, it’s possible some of that information should be included. But, it belongs at the bottom of your resume under education. Applicant tracking systems, in case you enjoy being tagged like an animal, will pick up that detail no matter where it is. But, if we're pinning our hopes of being hired on one of these systems… we may as well stop at the bodega on the way home and buy a lottery ticket.

Once your resume is stunning, get it in front of the decision-maker, which is not in HR unless you are trying to work within the HR department.

While we're talking about the use of space at the top of the resume, throw out the objective statement, as that would certainly imply sentence structure.


Replace the objective statement with a 'Positioning Title'.

In a perfect world, that's as simple as 4, 5, or 6 words.


If you are more senior, or have a more complex background to sell, it maybe 2 or 3 lines of 4, 5, or 6 words. And again, format it in such a way that it is ‘visually imprintable’ and cannot be missed (while they are not reading your resume).

If you'd like to work with someone that can make your background truly sing, all of my information is below.

I craft amazing single-page Resumes & LinkedIn Profiles that become ‘3-dimensional Sales Brochures’, all about you –driving the reader to a singular conclusion: if they hire this individual it'll be the ‘best business decision’ that they make that day.

Now, let's get to work!


John Crant

Author, Career Coach & Speaker on Job Search and Career Management

Featured Speaker for

The New York Public Library's JOB SEARCH CENTRAL


In the Media: As Seen As Featured in 

amNY, Time Out New York, The Wall Street Journal (and its, CRAIN'S New York BusinessForbes, CNNBBC, FOX News (on Social Media Marketing), AriseTV, New York PostThe Huffington PostEssence magazine, CareerBuilder and The Ladders

On the Radio: As Guest: WHCR 90.3 FM "The Voice of Harlem"


As an industry manager, executive recruiter, recruiting & sales trainer, event speaker, and as VP of a nationwide system of recruitment offices, I have seen most every aspect of the hiring process and this varied insight is what provides the clarity you will find in this book.

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