Average resumes don’t get job offers

By Debra Wheatman

On February 23, 2010

In General

About resume


Just recently I did a webinar regarding “Creating a Killer Resume.” Before the event we conducted an impromptu poll.  Respondents were asked to rate their own resumes; they were given the following choices

  1. Below average
  2. Average
  3. Pretty good
  4. Perfect

This is what we found


More than half of the people (56%) selected average, in other words more than half of the respondents felt their resume was OK.  Let’s pause and put aside the fact that people tend to over-rate their own work.  If your resume is just average, even during the best of times – well, that’s pretty lame.  This isn’t Lake Woebegon. If your resume is average you will be lucky to make it through the first round of candidate triage.

And, maybe those respondents aren’t aware of the fact that we are still in the midst of the worst economic climate most of us have ever seen.  Given the state of the economy and the job market 9.3% unemployment and 17.5% under employment, do you really think that average will work for you?

If your resume is just average – YOU AIN’T GETTING THE JOB.  

Let me repeat that, louder this time.

If your resume is average, even if you are “all that and a bag of chips” YOU WON’T EVEN GET THE INTERVIEW.

Do you just want to be average? Isn’t the idea to stand out from the pack? The cream, as they say, rises to the top. Average is simply not good enough. Why would you just want to be average, anyway? Now, you may be getting interviews with your average resume, but are the interviews for jobs you actually want? Getting an interview for a position you are not interested in is the same as not being called for the interview at all. What good is an interview for a role that you don’t desire in the first place? (unless you feel like you need to practice, of course).

The state of your resume is critical to launching an effective search. Why? Well, because it is the thing you have the most control over during the search, and it is your opportunity to make a fabulous first impression. Here are some tips to help you create a truly stellar resume with some links to samples:

  • Create a headline at the top of the resume: The headline serves to tell the reader what you are looking for. Instead of an outdated objective, use a strong headline to deliver an immediate impact.
  • Write a strong (but brief) summary: You don’t need a title for this paragraph. It should appear right underneath your headline and provide the reader with a short but powerful look at your professional abilities. Include an example with a result and also some qualitative information to demonstrate a well rounded candidate.
  • Develop a core competency section: This section will serve as your key words and allow the reader to quickly understand the competencies you possess. Consider reviewing the job description (if one is available) to gain an understanding of the key skills needed for the role. This section is also very useful when applying to larger organizations that use applicant tracking systems (e.g. Taleo).
  • Consider your style options: Perhaps you are making a transition to another type of industry and you have previous experience that is directly related to a particular role. You don’t have to limit your options to a strictly reverse chronological resume. Consider using a hybrid style to allow to you bring some of those achievements to the top of the resume (under the core competency section). This will help the reader understand that you possess the skills required for the role. You can then revert with reverse chronological after you have impressed the reader with the relevant details of your indirect and transferable skills.

Here are some links to sample resumes – both a traditional reverse chronological resume and a hybrid resume to get your creative juices flowing! For more examples take a look at our other sample resumes.


Here’s to your productive and positive job search!


Comments and feedback are requested and desired; and you are welcome and encouraged to submit questions to thecareerdoctor.


Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is the founder and Chief Career Strategist of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.

Debra can be reached at –
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One thought on “Average resumes don’t get job offers”

  • Gidget  says:
    July 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Hi! Debra,
    I agree with you that, "Average Resumes Don’t Get Jobs".
    I just came across your blog about about Resume Writing and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information that you have posted here. I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work. You are providing a great resource on the Internet here!

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