Making Your Resume Sizzle

Creating your functional resume

CV’s stand out when they can be measured by the pound. Quantity tends to sell. A good functional resume stands out because it hits the nail on the head and is memorable. 

Think about that… hmmmmmm, it is memorable and it hits the nail on the head. What is memorable? Is memorable 500 words on a page accompanied by your name and contact info? Think of Page one of your resume as a bill board.  Click here to open last weeks posting that explains the “page one” and “page two” of a functional resume.  

When I was in college I taught an undergraduate journalism lab on advertising. One lesson was on billboards. At 65 miles per hour a billboard MUST be memorable and hit the nail on the head. Or at least successful one’s do. If you have to slow down to read a billboard you won’t – and you won’t read it.  

It’s the same with your resume. If a reader has to slow down to read it… has to try to understand what you mean, what your accomplishments mean, how your accomplishments support your core competencies, they won’t. The most important part of your resume is your list of core competencies. The second most important are your accomplishments.  

Core competencies are words/phrases such as: Product Management, Business Development, Organizational Leadership…. They clearly (clear as in “nail on the head”) state and define an area of expertise that others can understand and “remember.” 

Your accomplishments are qualitative and quantitative descriptions, explanations and/or examples of your achievements supporting your competencies. For example, on my own resume Financial Management is one of my core competencies, and a supporting accomplishment is: Restructured medical practice billing and collection processes improving net collection rate from 68% to 234% in 45 days. 

The core competency – Financial Management… it’s to the point and easily remembered. The supporting accomplishment is equally on point and with percentages makes it easier to “value” and is memorable.  

Resumes I receive from physicians are, as I noted last week, most often some version of a chronological resume perhaps beginning with a summary or synopsis. One of these I received contained more than 1,750 words as the “meat” of the resume that consumed six pages. I can promise you, no one ever read that document.  

My resume has about 250 words on page one and fewer in the bullet point chronology of work, education and appointments on page two.  

As you look at your resume, ask yourself these questions:

1.     Does it tell the reader what you want to do?

2.     Does it illustrate to the reader you can and/or have done what you want to do?

3.     Does it present a cogent listing of qualified and quantified accomplishments?

4.     Does it hit the nail on the head and is it memorable? 

You may believe you need to list everything you’ve ever done and you may believe you need to be vague enough to not limit yourself. If you do, what you’re really saying to recruiters and business executives is, you don’t really know what you want to do, and you’re supporting that with an unfocused laundry list of activities  

The Gettysburg address was 272 words and nearly everyone can at least quote its preamble. Obamacare was more than 20,000 pages and most people don’t even know the actual name of the act.  

Think billboards not dissertations and you’ll produce a resume that sizzles.   

If you’d like a quick critique of your resume, send to my email ( and attach it as a word document. I’ll respond with inline comments within three business days depending on my schedule and availability. Type ONLINE RESUME CRITIQUE in the subject line.