Getting my coffee today, I peered down as I always do, at the piles of newspapers stacked ankle-high bordering the service counter at my local delicatessen. All the major publishing players are represented. I scanned the headlines while waiting 15 deep to order my “black no sweet”.

The headlines read –

“Sensational”, “Bleak”, “Scandalous”, “Dry”, and “Rye”

But none Boring.

As the line ticked forward, I noticed most like me, were sharing their attention between the newspaper headlines, the TV perched by the ceiling spouting "Headline News", and each other, as slight smiles, head nods and body twists accommodated the tight quarters we found ourselves in, while waves entered and left through an aisle flanked by shelves of food products screaming their own “headlines”, in brightly colored bottles, boxes, and bags.

Advancing inch by inch, the Wall Street Journal came to view and notably, astride the bold headlines pillard down the left margin, were “text sounds bytes” summing up WORLD events!

“World events summed up in 1 – 3 sentences!”

Sparing the urge to indict the paper for espousing such contradiction, I realized the paper was simply adapting to a “sensory overloaded”, “stimuli-crazed” audience.

I’ve often maintained, hiring managers rarely allot uninterrupted, dedicated time for reading resumes. As a manager myself and before “formally” entering the world of recruiting, I know functionally reading resumes more often than not, comes after the daily "fires" are quelched, the priority meetings have concluded, the analysis and written reports are completed. 
Reading resumes is relegated to “off hours”, between meetings, in waiting rooms, on airplanes, hotel rooms late at night (insert family room, home office or bedroom if you don’t travel), while watching ball games and once, I remember sitting, my laptop perched on my knees, screen glowing with resumes layered and cascading endlessly, while I received a haircut.
Reminder, this was BEFORE I became a recruiter.

My point… my morning deli experience is a microcosm for our lives today, riddled (dare I say bombarded) with competing stimuli. As a recruiter, I had “better” allot uninterrupted time to read in-depth, candidate resumes. But if I believe my clients, especially active hiring managers themselves are, I'd be fooling myself, and not serving the stakeholders and candidates I serve.

Yes! hiring managers read resumes! But understanding typically when, where, under what conditions, and in what frame of mind is critical in ensuring reader attention and appeal. To take it a step further, recruiters owe it to our clients to understand this and to counsel our candidates accordingly.

As a reasonably intelligent person, I know The Journal is not expecting readers to STOP reading at the front page. The paper’s GOAL, is to get prospects to “see the headline”, then buy and open the paper to learn more about the “summaries” the reader is interested in.

Resumes, need to take a lesson from the newspaper (and magazine) publishers providing “bullets” that intrigue and “beg question”, but no more. Allow the resume to achieve its GOAL, which is to get the candidate into conversation with the prospective employer (to bring depth and deeper understanding to the bulleted achievements (headlines or “summaries”)) they’ve shared through their resume.

The narrative-style resume is in my view, a waste of time. Few have the time, patience or inclination to read them attentively, not because the reader is ignorant, shallow or lazy, but because our culture has simply moved on (tweeeeet!).

Today, it’s about “Rapid Data Assimilation”, followed by intense investigation when and only when readers (Human Resource Departments, Committees, and Hiring Managers) have established that the subject (candidate's achievements) is worth investigating.
I know many customers on the line with me at the deli will “skim the headlines then forget”, but if interest is piqued, will buy the paper for an in-depth review, or, if like me, google the subjects that the summaries piqued interest in later in the day (sorry WSJ).

Similarly, if a hiring authority “skims” a well thought out, well-written list of bulleted Achievements, then chooses to pass, the candidate is “barking up the wrong tree”. anyway.
If however, the hiring authority's interest is piqued and they want to learn more, they’ll pick up the phone…

Goal achieved!

Find me at:

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Twitter (NYCHeadhunter)

And let's Network Together for Mutual Success!

Views: 3413

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 23, 2011 at 2:06pm

I have always hated the narrative or functional resume that the last wave of thought leaders and colleges decided was the new kool.  I agree 100% that a resume better be like a newspaper article that lets the reader know pretty quickly "who, what, when, where and if it passes muster on those points we can get to the why. 


Good post and germane to the need  for the reader to be able to skim and grab attention quickly.

Comment by Nick Lagos on August 23, 2011 at 2:26pm

lol... Not sure about you, but in my neck of the woods, kids run the service counters. When I say “Coffee… Black”, they turn to me and say… “Sugar...?”

Maybe all the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” (or some such amalgam) orders pump-them-up, and "Black" just presents a quandary.

Comment by Nick Lagos on August 23, 2011 at 4:02pm

Thanks Sandra, appreciate your support on this one.  I’ve had “rank & file” furnish 4 page biographies, then get “huffy” when I suggest “pairing it down”, and President level executives supplying outstanding, 1 page summaries that just “blow you away” (in a good way).  Guess the stark differences between the chronic “rank & file” vs. true “executives” is in some cases, evident on first contact…

Who, What, When, Where and Why!  Wasn’t that a line Cary Grant pitched to Rosalind Russell in the newspaper spoof His Girl Friday?  Great Flick, and as usual Sandra, your words resonate on so many levels.  Thx again!

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 23, 2011 at 4:48pm

The 5 W's are the way good journalism profs train writers to write an article.  If you can get that info in the headline and first two or three lines of an article people who have any interest will read on.  If they have no interest is the subject they move on but you got about a 30 second read.


I don't have time for huffy at this point.  There are too many candidates who know that recruiters are like ice cream, everybody has a favorite flavor so these folks ask what kind of resume i can work with the best to rep them.  If they paid the Ladders 800 bucks for a mess they can get huffy with the Ladders or their career coach or whoever told them to write that crap or leave off half of their career and their dates of education.

If a candidate asks me do i want the long form or the short form i say both.  I read the short one first if it says anything i will read the long one.  If the short one (two pages) is a decent read i will dig into the long one.  If i have a short one that works i send it first then if i need to poke a hiring manager i will follow up with the long form with a good reason to send them more info.


My take on the "new kool vs. old skool" when it comes to resumes is that old skool has been working about five times as long as the trendy crap.  Most of my hiring managers are over 40 or close to it and they feel the same way.

Comment by Nick Lagos on August 23, 2011 at 8:40pm

@BillSchultz, Los Bravos... Love that tune, thanks for the memories...

@SandraMcCartt, You sure you've never seen His Girl Friday (lol)?  Agree, agree, and... agree.  Thx again

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 23, 2011 at 9:37pm
LOL i haven't or didn't ever see it.  I am not a movie person ,never have been much if it didn't have something to do with horses.  Now i can tell you the name of Lash LarRue's horse but much past the names of all the horses that used to be in the Sat morn. movies i am dense.  I am a reader not a watcher.
Comment by Steven G. Davis on August 24, 2011 at 10:06am

Hey Nick,

Terrific post, I have to agree. The resume should be the sizzle to get you to dinner table!! Those long drawn out "functional" resumes and/or the War and Peace diatribes are pre-historic.  Thank you for sharing your insight and opinion, now to spread it to the world and beyond!!!!

Comment by Nick Lagos on August 24, 2011 at 3:06pm

@SandraMcCartt, My 11 yr old daughter is "horse crazy" outdoors & in (outdoors she's riden-em every chance she gets (which is never enough)) & indoors, she's watchen-em on Netflix (online movie access) which drives us all crazy)). Sounds like once you get the bug...

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 24, 2011 at 3:24pm

A kid after my own heart.  When the horse bug bites it is lifelong and parents are convinced it is a terminal and expensive disease.  Parents are right.  I have seven of them and haven't been on one since this miserable summer in Texas started but i spend at least two hours a night feeding, brushing and playing with them.  Then i go home and read horse books.  It's been that way as long as i can remember.  I love black horses, always have.  Once put black paint on an old gray mare when i was 8.  My granddad almost killed me.


By the way, Lash LaRue's horse was named Black Diamond.

Comment by Nick Lagos on August 24, 2011 at 4:34pm

@StevenG.Davis, Thanks for the affirmation.  I understand candidates are still being taught to “cram” their entire professional lives into a resume, but I find it rarely works.  Editing for relevance with the position being sought (Headline Fashion” Bulleted, Relevant Accomplishments)  to be a better strategy.

Package “Relevance” with “Sizzle”, and as you aptly point out, you’ve got a resume with Legs!

Thx again,


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