Refocus Your Resume to Get Results

Refocus Your Resume to Get Results

If you’re not getting responses to your resume, it’s time to take another look. Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

I am an HR professional with 15 years of experience in HR. I've been a member of SHRM since 2004. All my 15 years in HR were with a financial services company that operated in various states, including California, New Jersey and New York. I became unemployed at the end of August 2015 and unfortunately had to take a month off from my job search to care for a terminally ill parent. Other than that, I've been searching actively and have used all available options and avenues, but I have yet to land an interview. What am I doing wrong and what advice can you give me?

Thank you,
Joanitha (city withheld)

When you work in HR, you become known as career savvy, but in reality you are only savvy about certain aspects of the recruitment and selection process. The skills needed for getting job interviews and then turning them into job offers are entirely different—as you are discovering. 

Show me a job search without interviews and I will show you:

  • An inadequate resume.
  • Poor job search skills.

It could be both of these, but I can pretty much guarantee that your resume doesn’t perform in the way it is meant to because it is a recitation of all you have done and all you feel is important.

This is the wrong focus. Let me prove it by asking you to cast your mind back to the first few days on your first job. I know the first two lessons you learned as a business professional because they are the same lessons that most of us learned and now live by in our professional lives:

  • The customer is always right.
  • Find out what the customer wants and then give it to him or her.

And you remember these lessons until it is time to create the most financially important document you will ever own—your resume—and then, like many people, you kick this advice out the window and create a document that is “all about me and what I want.”

You need to rebuild your resume to tell your story in a way that will get you the interview. Reading Knock Em Dead Resumes (Adams Media, 2014) is a good place to start. You should also retrain yourself on effective job search tactics because, even if you have the best resume in the world, it won’t do you much good unless you use it properly.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We’ll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.  


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