To Write or Not to Write: The Resume

By Keith Lawrence Miller '14TC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network

A common resume writing theme is the inability for people to write their own. Most people believe this phenomenon only applies to them and are slightly ashamed that they cannot effectively develop a well-written resume. As a professional career coach, I work with hundreds of people on a yearly basis and the most common statements include the frustration and struggle with trying to write a resume. After 10+ years, I have not had the privilege of encountering someone with the unique ability to correctly and accurately write their own resume.

For many, opportunities are lost and years are wasted because the professional documentation was not opening the correct doors. Time and again, those who outsourced earlier in their career are almost always in a better professional situation later in their careers when compared to their counterparts. Ultimately, the resume is a key that opens the proverbial "door to opportunity," which allows you to sell yourself during the interview for the position that you covet. As your representative and the elicitor of your first impression, a resume is what clothing is to a person, and it is the official branding collateral of your professional presentation.

Writing a resume seems to be a straightforward, simple, and common-sense project since it consists of approximately two pages. However, there are underlying issues that prevent someone from developing an effective and well-written resume regardless of expertise, luck, or over-achievement. As human beings, we all collectively share significant limitations contrary to popular belief. For example, we are not able to see our face regardless of how hard we try, until we use an external resource such as a mirror or reflection. This same phenomenon is what limits our ability to be consciously aware of our behaviors. In most cases, we require trusted external feedback from family, loved ones, coaches, friends, etc., in order to correct negative behavioral actions. The same limitation occurs during the resume development process, where it is practically impossible to effectively communicate our own professional achievements, responsibilities, and experiences to a third party via resume due to lack of perception, associated emotions, misunderstanding of the target audience expectations, and inability to reflect upon ourselves from an outside perspective.

Consistently, people from all walks of life, including professionals with advanced degrees, professionals from various sectors on a global-basis with 20+ years of experience, professional writers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, and organizational leaders all share a common theme of not being able to appropriately craft their own resume. Overachievers struggle the most with this process because they are goal-oriented and will win at all costs which is counterintuitive and actually inhibits their professional growth rather than propelling it forward.

The process of developing a resume is time-consuming and the final product is usually lacking, including key mistakes such as people talking about irrelevant things that are important to them but not important to the target audience, incorrectly stating achievements and reducing the emotional impact of the statement, grammatical errors associated with resume writing techniques, and not generating action-focused content that would influence the hiring manager to schedule an interview. The cover letter sells the resume, the resume sells you for the interview, and you sell yourself during the interview in a similar way that a product would sell itself, beginning with customized and unique branding, digital and traditional marketing, clear content communications and direct customer engagement. Competition for high-paying positions is significant and having the right sales strategy can and will place you above the competition.

When developing a resume, the content needs to be geared toward the requirements of the target position. The resume reviewer who makes the decision to interview is only concerned with the applicant's ability to perform the specific role’s responsibilities above and beyond the other applicants and speaking about anything other than the transferable knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) is counter-productive.

Utilizing a career coach or resume writer with career coaching skills as a sounding board to identify, highlight and correctly translate professional content in a proper manner that communicates effectively to the target audience is the optimal choice. A resume is a professional investment in the self and does successfully promote a significant return on investment (ROI). Writing the resume rather than outsourcing is a costly endeavor that generates a negative feedback loop of underperformance, irregular work/life balance, Type A managers, positions with unrealistic expectations, toxic work environments, and less compensation for work performed.

Keith Miller


Keith Lawrence Miller is a Board-Certified Coach (BCC), ICF Credentialed Certified Career Coach (PCC), and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with subject matter expertise in executive career coaching, business and leadership coaching, and resume and LinkedIn optimization. He holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Organizational Psychology and an Advanced Certificate in Collective Intelligences from Teachers College. He served as a Columbia University Senator (2011-2013).

Miller offers a 60-day interview guarantee on all resume packages and significant discounts for alumni. He can be contacted at [email protected] for a no-obligation, customized proposal outlining the entire process and associated costs. For more information, visit and connect Miller with via LinkedIn at (10k+ network) and through Skype: keith.milliondollarcoaching

Learn more about the Columbia Career Coaches Network.

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