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Your resume should answer more questions than it raises

In my laundry room, you will find the most basic washing machine that’s available today. When I replaced my old one last year, I decided I did not need all the myriad variations and features that the newer machines offer. I’ve not been disappointed – this one is simple and things get clean: Exactly what one wants in a washer.

This morning, as I put a load of laundry into the tub, I paused to read the cycle selection dial:

This cycle selection dial raises a few questions.

The user can choose from these wash cycle settings: bulky items & sheets, heavy, regular, casual, and delicate. The word NORMAL is above the regular option, and I guess it’s there to qualify the northern hemisphere selections, in contrast to the three other options below the equator that that are – I dunno – abnormal? Unusual? Extraordinary? But why is it something other than “normal” to use the rinse/spin option, or to clean the washer if it needs it?

Bulky items & sheets describes and names the kinds of items one might wash under that option, so that seems clear. Same with delicate – I picture lingerie and sweaters, which I think is what that cycle implies. But I struggle to imagine what items are considered, by this logic, heavy or regular or casual. For example, what about a hoodie or sweatpants? Those are kind of heavy (even bulky, especially when wet), but they’re also super casual. I can’t conclude that there’s anything irregular about them. Is casual like business casual? As opposed to…professional? Or formal? Or is it your old grubby tee-shirts versus your… regular ones?

Also: I think the distinction between heavy and bulky splits a fine hair for such a minimalist dial, at least when it comes to items one might place in the tub of a washing machine.

Perhaps the three options don’t describe the type of thing being washed, but instead indicate the intensity with which the machine does its job. But then, what constitutes a casual wash, and how is that different from a regular cycle? Is it less vigorous? Super chill? I want my washing machine focused and on the job; casual in this context is not desirable.

And let’s be honest, the use of the word regular suggests that some corresponding thing is…irregular. That seems ill-informed at best, and even connotes bias and judginess.

Once things in my head quieted down, I selected the regular wash, as I almost always do. Except, of course, for when I wash the sheets and towels.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The cycle selection dial on my washing machine raises more questions than it answers. In contrast, a good resume should convey the most important information about your career in a manner that does not prompt questions. A well-constructed resume uses precise, clear language and does not waste words. It outlines your career progression and articulates your qualifications. It distills your essence into a branding statement that conveys your unique offering. It compels the recruiter or hiring manager to read your story, and it makes them want to explore through conversation how your background qualifies you to address their company’s needs.

A less effective resume is kind of like my washing machine’s dial. It lacks parallel structure and consistency. It doesn’t flow. It relies on buzzwords as a verbal crutch. It’s either short on detail, or it’s so densely formatted that it’s difficult to digest. It portrays your job description but does not demonstrate the ways in which you made an impact on your employer. And if a hiring manager can’t see where and how you’ve made an impact, they cannot envision how you might help their company.

Such resumes force the reader to try to fit the pieces together based on incomplete information or context clues. Don’t make them guess. Present your case for why you’re qualified for and excited about the opportunity. A well-written resume makes it easy for the hiring manager to picture you on their team.

If you’re submitting resume after resume and not getting called for interviews, perhaps it needs professional attention. I’m happy to review yours and give you my opinion and suggestions – click here to request a free consultation.

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