The other day I had a client in my office telling me that there was no point in making a good résumé because no employer would ever take time to read it. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard that. In fact, I recently read on a Linked In resume writer’s group that anyone who says that an employer will spend any more that 10 seconds on a résumé is a liar.

“Where did you hear that?” I asked my client.

“It’s common knowledge,” she said. “That’s why it’s so hard to find a job these days. Employers never read résumés. If they did, they would see that I was the best candidate. “

I looked at her résumé. It had an objective, a summary of qualifications and a list of her jobs and education, and a promise that she would happily furnish a list of references if I asked for them.

Before I started to read, I glanced at the clock. She was right. It took 10 seconds to read, and as I read, I think I understood every word. I read enough to realize that I didn’t want to read any more. In fact, I read enough to realize that her 10 second wonder only qualified for a spot in the circular file.

I don’t blame her. She was about my age, and she came of age in an era when there wasn’t much of a demand for résumés. Those were days when one could write one’s name address and telephone number on a piece of butcher paper and land a good paying job. I remember those days as well. I once walked into a longshoreman’s hiring hall, wrote my name on the back of a cigarette package and got a job for 3 days that covered my rent for a month.

These days, a résumé needs to tell a recruiter a story. It needs to have all the skills and experience set out in the job description, plus show that you have the “soft” skills (negotiation, listening and problem solving etc.) to prove that the applicant would be a good asset to the company. In short, to survive the 10 second rule, you need to stop boring the heck out of the reader. Who do you think you are, anyway?

Here are three things I’ve picked up over the years that might help you create a résumé that can withstand the 10 second rule

1. Ditch the Objective
Ever since the butcher paper days, employers wanted to see an objective on a résumé. They reasoned that if there was no objective, the candidate didn’t have any goals. Then they began to wonder whether it mattered whether a person had goals or not. Whether you care to admit it or not, there is only one objective – to get that freakin ‘job.

Instead of a boring objective, I head the resume with three job titles a candidate can do. It’s marketing.

2. Write a profile
Most résumés start out with a laundry list of bulleted points mentioning all the skills and qualifications. There are plenty of places for laundry lists, so why not treat the reader with some actual sentences. Write three or four lines about yourself, what you do, and what your skills might be. The, when the reader isn’t looking, high stick the reader with your bulleted list.

3. Don’t Separate Your Employment History with Relevant Experience and Experience.
Some people think that they are better judges of relevance than the reader. They’re wrong and they’re going to outsmart themselves. Some of the irrelevant jobs may have had some components that are lacking in the relevant experience, such as leadership. People have a habit of changing careers, so everything is relevant. In fact, the working environment has a habit of changing. When was the last time you saw an ad for a steeplejack?

For that matter, what is a steeplejack, and what skills would a steeplejack have in today’s marketplace?

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there “aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look like.

He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at or at 604-464-4105 If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.



  1. Sharon Says:

    Interesting info. At my stage of life I’ve had so many jobs that I feel a bullet list is the only way to get through them quickly. Should I put a “skills” section at the top?

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