Resume trends continually evolve and the document that successfully landed you a job a few years ago may no longer be effective if you are presently in career transition or decide to make a career change in 2015.

When I evaluate resumes, and I provide hundreds of free resume critiques each year, there are 5 key factors I assess to determine resume effectiveness for the purposes of ongoing career management and aggressive job search.


A resume should never be longer than 3 pages. I find many new immigrants, even at the executive level, do not realize a 4 page or longer resume instantly eliminates them from further consideration. Pending what country you lived in, other content that may be included but should be avoided on a North American resume include a picture, marital status, age, and reference to political or religious affiliations.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the resumes with too much white space. A 1.5 page or 2 1/3 page resume gives the impression you lack sufficient career achievements to fill the page.

If you’re submitting your resume online, how your resume is formatted is a critical component in manipulating past the Applicant Tracking System that scans and pre-screens resumes. Design features including headers, footers, underlines, shading, columns, graphics, and text boxes may cause your resume to land in the online recycle bin, never to be seen by an Executive Recruiter, HR employee or the hiring manager.

Contact Information

While there is much discussion regarding the inclusion or exclusion of a physical street address, I always recommend my executive level clientele include a complete address in their contact
information (street, city, province/state, and postal/zip code).

 Your resume is about creating an honest and open first impression with a potential employer beginning right at the top of page one.
I’m continually amazed at the number of resumes I receive which do not include a phone number. If you’re serious about managing your career, your resume needs at least one phone number. Ensure the voice mail message attached to that number is of a professional nature and not the voice of your child or the default “the number you are calling is not available; leave a message at the beep”. Again, it’s about creating a positive and professional first impression with the caller.
I expect to see your LinkedIn URL in the contact section. Employers are going to review your LinkedIn profile whether you share it or not so make it easy for them to access. Shorten and improve your URL by customizing it to eliminate all those unnecessary default characters assigned when you first created your account. If you haven’t already personalized your URL, and it’s VERY EASY, visit my website for the blog entitled Have You Customized Your LinkedIn URL?

No matter if you’re a Gen Y or Gen Z career professional, or a Boomer like myself, companies are expecting you to be social media savvy. Use the contact section to promote your social media competency. In addition to the mandatory LinkedIn URL, my clients are now including their Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Skype addresses in the contact section.

Objective vs Projective

Your objective in writing an effective 2014 / 2015 resume must be to ELIMINATE the Objective statement!

An objective statement instantly dates your resume and pleads “I need a job”. On trend resumes use the same physical space on the page - the upper third of page one - to answer the employers question “Why should I hire you”, using personal branding strategies to market your unique career differentiators.

In 15, 17, 19, or 21 words create a personal branding statement (aka, a tag line) describing what is so special about you. What would compel an interviewer to pick up the phone?

Further define your brand in a 5 or 6 line paragraph commencing with the ONE WORD that best describes you. Share with the reader why you’re the perfect candidate. What are you renowned for or expert at? What is your leadership style? Communication style? The goal is to create a compelling first paragraph that instantly captures attention, leaving the reader wanting to know more about you.


When I first started writing resumes over 20 years ago, I’d never heard of the term keywords. Now if I type the phrase “keyword search” into my browser, it displays 549 million results!! Keywords have become the search tools employers use to populate candidate profiles during an online search.

Keywords also become the pass / fail criteria during an ATS scan. Without the right keywords in your resume, you’re toast!

Keywords are typically the functional hard skills acquired through education and experience specific to your job, sector and career level. Job descriptions, company websites, industry associations, and Internet searches are just many of the endless keyword resources available to help you uncover and include appropriate keywords in your resume.


An effective resume is one that relays quantifiable career accomplishments. A future employer doesn’t care what you were responsible for; they want to know the impact your contributions made to the bottom line. RESULTS! RESULTS! RESULTS!

Most people have career achievements to share but often simply don’t know how to put those stories on a resume. I find using the acronym STAR makes it easier to analyze and document career successes. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Aim for 1 STAR story per year of employment. Document these stories in bullet form, no longer than 3 lines, and commence each bullet with an action verb. Never repeat the same action verb; sound impossible? Not really when you consider I created a downloadable reference tool with 2,013 and soon to be 2,015 action verbs on my website.

If you’ve been wondering why no one is responding to your resume submissions, perhaps it’s time to analyze your resume for effectiveness based on these 5 critical factors. It’s never too late to rejuvenate your resume and reap the rewards.