It’s Time to Put Your Resume to Work: Part 9 – Avoiding the Trash

With all the great suggestions, tips, advice, and wisdom in the “It’s Time to Put Your Resume to Work” series, you should have no problem getting the attention of the hiring manager and being invited to an interview.


How about a strong maybe?

No doubt you will be far better armed to get noticed. You have discovered ways to match the language of a job listing. You know how to avoid the useless, mundane, and superfluous so that you fill your resume with valuable and engaging information. You have put your best foot forward. But will that be enough to get you an interview?  

Remember, your resume only needs to be one of a lucky group of resumes that induces an invitation to interview. The interview decides the big prize. You just want to be in the final heat.

Sadly, most resumes don’t survive to the final stage. They die on the vine and are swept away to the wastepaper basket. You want your resume to be a survivor.

What is it that determines if your resume rises to the top of the pile or ends up in the trash? Any of the following can make or break your resume.

1. You meet enough of the important requirements for the job to give the hiring manager comfort that you could do the work. You can illuminate your qualifications with a well-constructed cover letter and resume. While you shouldn’t apply for an engineering position requiring 10 years’ experience, if you are a sophomore in college majoring in German Polka History. However, eight years’ experience with the exact type of engineering work the job requires, is well within reach.

2. Your resume is constructed to make the case that you are a person who could successfully perform the role the client company needs to fill, and you are therefore worth the time to interview. Address shortcomings in your cover letter. Example: “I have accomplished a great deal in my eight years at WYZ Construction, including all professional engineering work on the Interstate 666 bridge in Amityville.” If the job listing is for a civil engineer with 10 years of experience building bridges, you could be the best candidate. Addressing issues or possible concerns in a professional, confident, and honest manner can help soothe many concerns.

3. You use the right key words. The language of the job listing holds the key words for that job. If you can align with that language, you can help the hiring manager connect the dots that lead from their job opening to you. This is discussed very thoroughly in post 4 of the “It’s Time to Put Your Resume to Work” series.

4. You use correct spelling and grammar. This isn’t Twitter or a text. Have someone look over your resume. Have several people look over your resume. Most people are less than adequate editors of their own work. As an author, you knew what they meant to say and see the words you meant to use, even if the the weirds ( 😉 ) are actually wrong. While word processing programs continue to improve, for the most part, they only confirm that the word you typed is a word, not necessarily the word you meant to use.

5. You are able to get around the standard application process. A good word from someone on the inside of the hiring organization can go a long way. A trusted employee who champions a candidate can provide the hiring manager a lot of reassurance.  Every hiring manager has a nagging concern in the back of her head that you, whoever you are, might secretly be an axe murderer or a lunch stealer or a resume exaggerator. She doesn’t want to have to explain why she brought in the wrong person.

Techniques for finding a champion go beyond the scope of this article. However, if you can find someone in the target company, who could help expedite your resume, she can get you closer to an interview and farther from the circular file.  Endorsements from people who know both the company and candidate can provide comfort to HR about taking the risk of interviewing you.

Conversely, do not decide not to submit your resume because you can’t find someone to help you get past the gatekeeper. A champion can help but is not a necessity.

6. The competition is always a factor which influences who the hiring manager invites to an interview. If the pool of applicants is large, each applicant has less of a chance of being chosen. If the number of applicants is smaller, then any one resume is more likely to be chosen. More importantly, within any group of applicants, there may be candidates who meet more of the specific requirements of the job listing.

 You have no idea who else is applying for the job or how closely other applicants meet the requirements. Many variables can come into play here:  location, salary requirement, personal relationships, etc.  Also, be forewarned, the competition may have been reading the “It’s Time to Put Your Resume to Work” series too and therefore also has this valuable knowledge.

7. Fate and all the stuff you have absolutely no control over also influences who gets to interview and who does not. This can include the mood of the person at the time he is reviewing your resume, glitches in the computer analyzing it, snags in mail processing, or an interruption in the office at the exact moment that the hiring manager has your resume up on his computer screen.

Do not waste your energy worrying about numbers 6 and 7. You cannot influence them. Invoke the Serenity prayer, recite the Desiderata and the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and hit send.

See how your resume survives an ATS

A resume tool worth knowing about is It is an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) tool that can analyze your resume online. Upload your resume to this site and get an idea if you are on the right track. There is a paid version, but the free one can give you an idea of how well your resume would fare being run through a potential employer’s ATS. It is just one tool, but it can give you some meaningful insight.

We will keep your resume on file . . .

The HR rep said that he would keep your resume on file in case another position became available. So, if you see another job at the same company, do you need to apply again?

Here’s a sad fact. When an HR person informs you that they will keep your information on file in case an opportunity arises, please do not pin your hopes on it happening. The fact is that the HR person may place it in a file, but she is never going to look at it again until it is shredded (probably digitally) later when they realize they haven’t looked at it for five years. Even if they do somehow decide to look at your resume for another position, an a la carte resume as described in post 3 of this series is created for a particular position and may not address job listings for a different job.

A new job listing always warrants the creation of a new resume, even if you have previously sent a resume or even interviewed at the company. Even if the opening is for the same role (possibly the same job), send a resume. Do not expect the hiring manager to connect you to the opportunity.

Let not your heart be troubled

Do not be disheartened by anything stated above. Using the “It’s Time to Put Your Resume to Work” techniques will absolutely improve your chances of being noticed by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and hiring managers. 

Remember, some things are not meant to be. Missing out on one opportunity may allow another door to open for a better one.

With all those things in mind, if you are interested in a job, then go ahead and apply. Be assured, you are extremely unlikely to be considered for a position for which you do not apply.

The suggestions and advice given in the articles about resumes provides a lot of information to help you put your resume to work. Please let me know if you have found it helpful. To make sure others have access to this valuable information, please go back to this article in LinkedIn and like and comment on the actual post where the most people are likely to see it. Thanks for your kindness.

If you need help with your resume, your job search or in putting your Strengths to work, please contact Crews Strengths at .


There is still more to come on resumes and Strengths and the whole job search experience.

If you need to catch up on the earlier posts in the “It’s Time to Put Your Resume to Work” series, here is the way to get to that valuable content:

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