Published Articles

The Resume That Wrecked My Life

SuperUser Account posted on December 29, 2010

By Rick Rummage

December 29, 2010¦


I was driving home from the interview more excited than I had been in years. I could not believe that
I actually landed the position and I beat out hundreds. The job was mine and life was turning around.

There I was, fifty four years old and I had been an unemployed manager for eighteen months. How
and why did it happen? I had such a long successful career as a brokerage manager. I always hit or
exceeded my goals while employed. I walked across many stages and accepted many awards. I was
always one of the first managers promoted to a new post at every company I worked for. One day I
was on top of the world and the next I was a fifty-four-year-old has-been – at least that is how I felt after being unemployed for so long.

During that period of unemployment, I applied for eighty-nine positions. I was only called and invited
to interview for eight. Why so few interviews? I always thought, if they would just give me the chance
to interview, I could sell myself and the position would be mine. My rapport building skills have always
been strong. I look great in a suit and always ask very good questions. If only all the companies that
posted a position would have called me in for an interview, I would have been employed much sooner.

This was a very frustrating, depressing and emotional time in my life. In fact, it almost cost me my
marriage. Looking back, I reflected many times on my situation and why it happened. I know why I lost
my job, but why could I not find another? Out of the eight firms that I did get interviews, the companies
either decided to not fill the position or they went with an internal candidate. If only I could have gotten
more interviews. Why such a low percentage? Why could I not get my foot in the door? Then it hit me.
A question that my wife had asked me many months before. Honey, “why don’t you have a professional
look at your resume”? I started to think, maybe it was not me after all. Maybe it was what I wrote or
left out about myself on my resume. It was then that I decided to do some research on resumes.

My wife’s best friend Beth knew a thing or two about resumes. She had actually been a professional
resume writer in her past and I really wanted to know if my resume had anything to do with my terrible
situation. I thought for sure my resume was fine and Beth would tell me such. I just wanted to see and I
wanted some answers. I put my tail between my legs and asked my wife for Beth’s number.

A few months later I finally got around to calling Beth. I was so busy with the new job that the resume
research got put on hold for a little while. When we finally spoke, she asked me to email my resume to
her and she would give me feedback. Within a few minutes of sending the resume the phone rang. It
was Beth and she wanted me to come over so that we could speak.

When I arrived at her house, we sat down and she started to complement me. She told me that I was a very sharp, intelligent, successful, honest, dedicated, and good looking man. I really liked the “good looking” comment. I was wondering where she was going with all these great comments. Maybe my
wife put her up to boosting my confidence. But I was wrong and then she changed direction a bit. She
then went on to tell me that none of these great attributes come across in my resume. She said that
my resume looked like it had been written by one of my teenagers. She said that very few of my great
successes were even listed on my resume. I apparently went back too far on my resume timeline and let
hiring managers know my age by listing jobs thirty years prior. In summary, my resume was awful.

Beth spent two hours helping me with my resume and this is what I learned. A resume is your billboard just like a billboard on the side of a highway. You have about fifteen to thirty seconds to get your
message across. You do not have to put everything on your resume. You get to decide what you would
like to tell the reader. You can list all of your jobs or choose to list just a few. Short and to the point is
best. Companies want to hire successful people, so you better list all of your successes. In fact, your
achievements should be prominent and abundant. If a manager in your past told you one day that “you
were the hardest working employee he had ever had”, then you can list that as recognition on your

You do not have to receive a plaque to be recognized by an employer. Your audience sees hundreds of
resumes. They do not have time to read a book. The interview, if you get one, is the time to give them
all the details and sell yourself. In most cases, they know the job description of your previous jobs.
What they don’t know is that you increased sales volume twenty eight percent in 2007 or that you were
the youngest ever promoted to a position. There are dozens of different formats for resumes. Some
help, if you are older or really young, so that hiring or HR mangers don’t discriminate against you based
on age – which happens a lot. In some cases you should have two resumes. One when you are applying
for a sales job and another for the technical job.

There are many important things to know about resumes. A professional can help you with your
resume and it should not cost you more than about four hundred dollars. Resumes are far more
important than most of us think. It is the only thing a hiring manger sees at first and it is the sole basis
for the decision to interview a candidate or to just trash their resume. This document carries a ton
of weight – more than it should. Those that understand the importance go to the top of the pile and
are invited in so that the hiring manger can learn more about them. Make sure you spend some time
getting the resume right, so that you are given the chance to shine in an interview .

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of The Rummage Group, which specializes in helping financial professionals discover career opportunities within their market. For help with your Career or Resume he can be reached at or (703) 435-2822 or