7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 2 – Be Active, Not Passive

And now for a bit of irony…
So tip #1 was relevance, tip #2 is be active, not passive. I plead guilty to the “do as I say, not as I do” rule in not being active by saying in a post on December 1st that tomorrow you will have the next tip. Most people would interpret that to be December 2nd. It’s an easy calculation, kind of the first thing I learned in Excel…if cell A1’s value is 12/1/2008, in cell A2 if you create a formula A1+1, guess what? 12/2/2008! (OK, now I am just prattling on about my deep technical skills.) So to all of you who contacted me saying “if you are going to have a blog that attract visitors, you can’t go so long in between posts,” I say: message received you whiners (kidding, kidding.) Sure, I could blame it on computer issues and trying to make money to put food on the table, but that is still not an excuse. I appreciate that people actually want to hear what I have to say and will do my level best not to disappoint again.

OK class, let’s get to the business at hand. What does be active, not passive mean for this discussion? Aside from easily being able to put it to the melody of “Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby McFerrin, it’s huge. One of the most important things good recruiters look for.

When describing your career experiences, write in terms of what your accomplishments and successes were as opposed to just what the job duties were.

You could put some epically challenging job duties on a resume for a company you were at for 7 months and think you are impressing someone…”Oh no sorry” (in the tone of Alex Trebek telling someone they are stupid and he’s smart even though he was told the answer.) Good recruiters will see right through it. They will think: “wow this person had some real important duties that they sucked at and got exposed and summarily disposed of.” Bottom line, good to put in your duties, equally important to talk about how you succeeded and excelled in those duties too.


  • “Managed a technical support call center of 75 people” (duty)
  • “By developing automated pre-screening methodologies, I increased efficiency of staff by 30% and reduced customer wait times by 15%” (accomplishment)

So make sure you match all your important things you were tasked to do with how you got them done.

Sorry to be so wordy but it has been awhile and I had a lot stored up, but I always reinforce this one with this example:

Say you were a hiring manager looking for a President, and George W. Bush or Jimmy Carter (insert your least favorite president here, I am just being apolitical) came into your office and you saw their resume. You would be impressed for sure at what their responsibilities were. But would you have any thought that you would ever hire them? ‘Nuff Said. (Oops too late)

Next tip: ‘Be proud, but honest.”

2 responses to “7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 2 – Be Active, Not Passive

  1. Well said. As a recruiter I see examples of the duty but not always the accomplishment. It’s usually either a red flag or just an example of a failed attempt to write a good resume. Either way, it’s still my time in the balance trying to get to the truth. Thanks Bill.

  2. Thanks Frank! As a seasoned professional I know you know the wheat from the chaff 🙂
    Hope all’s well.

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