How to make your resume better than 90 percent of the competition

Time for three hard truths, people. (The hardened cynic in me likes hard truths. They bring joy to my hardened, stone-cold heart.)

  • Only about one in ten resumes are good…the other 90% are mediocre at best.
  • About half of that remaining 90% are so boring that they make hiring managers’ eyes (and my eyes) glaze over.
  • The rest are downright awful.  I mean seriously, tear-your-hair-out awful.

I know because I have had the fortune (misfortune?) of reading thousands of resumes, many of them for international positions. Most of them make me weep inside. I partially blame my stone-cold heart on their awfulness.

What really sticks the shiv in deep about these terrible resumes is that they ostensibly represent the job applicant’s best foot forward.

After all, your resume is like a first date for jobs. Everyone expects you to look and act your best on your first date.  You wear nicer clothes, you actually shower beforehand, and you don’t fart at the dinner table.

Similarly, we expect that the content of your resume describes your professional prowess in the most flattering way possible.

So when your resume is sloppy or really boring or really random, it’s like you showed up to your first date in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and farted during the main course.

who farted?

You could have showed your best side to your date, but you chose not to.

Guess what, folks:  Hiring managers don’t have second “work dates” with people whose resumes are sloppy or bore them to tears.

Those people’s resumes get trashed. #SorryNotSorry

Now for the second hard truth of the day:  Your resume is likely in the 90 percent of mediocre-at-best resumes.

That’s a harder truth to stomach, but the law of large numbers says it is probably true.

Now, I am sure that people who are reading this, and thus actively seeking out information on working abroad, are better than the average resume-writer and job applicant, strictly by dint of their initiative. So I would guess that the principal problem with folks’ resumes is that they are BORING.

Generally, boring resumes take the form of a long laundry list of job responsibilities (“responsible for drafting reports for company management”) that say very little about your accomplishments and much more about your job descriptions.

In other words, they are usually deadly dull (other than the select few who jump out of airplanes for a living, etc.) and also don’t indicate whether you were actually good at your previous jobs or not.

(That’s the problem with listing responsibilities in stead of accomplishments. Even a sh*tty employee that held a similar job had the same responsibilities as you did. Your resume needs to differentiate you from the sh*tty employee.)

In any case, here’s my mental map of The Known Universe of Resumes™, based on extensive observation and personal pain:


The Known Universe of Resumes™

If you are applying for an international job, at the very least you need to reach the Territory of Adequate Resumes.

And you need to avoid the Land of Boring CV Mediocrity and The Poop Zone/Brown Town like the plague.

(While everyone should aspire to one day reside in the Zone of Resume Bliss, we are focused on the 80-20 here. Living in the Territory of Adequate Resumes, combined with solid networking, persistence, and proactive job hunting skills, will generally get you to where you need to be. In many cases, your time is better spent networking or working on side projects rather than endlessly perfecting your resume — if it is pretty decent to begin with.)

The goal of this post, and of the free mini-course that accompanies it, is to get you squarely into the “pretty decent” range — into the Territory of Adequate Resumes.

This is not hard to do, if you can dedicate just one hour a day to my mini-course over the course of just one week. (And by reading my earlier post, “10 reasons your resume is hurting your international job search — and how to fix it today.”)

In other words, taking a one-week break from your favorite Netflix series, or from wasting time watching raccoon videos on YouTube.

This raccoon video is nuts.  How are there so damn many of them?!?  And how did they know to lurk at the edge of the parking lot?  Did they know this dude had Doritos he was willing to share? 

Here’s how the course works:

The overall goal is to have your resume tell the most compelling story possible to your audience — the people making the hiring decisions — about your awesome professional potential for that job.

So first, that means getting a strong understanding of who your audience is, and what they want.  Without that fundamental, you risk the equivalent of trying to sell carpet cleaners to someone who has hardwood floors. We will therefore make sure we understand what your audience wants and needs to hear before you put pen to paper,

Then, we’ll work together to identify the skills and experience you have that will tell a story that your audience finds interesting and engaging.  And we’ll make sure that you are selecting the skills and experiences that your potential international employers value the most.

Only at that point will we work to put that information into a resume template.

Finally, we will review your work, hone the messages for your target international audience, and ensure that there are no stupid mistakes in there.

Day-by-day, the plan looks like this:

  • Day One:  Forget Everything You Know About Resumes
  • Day Two:  Stepping into the Shoes of Your International Hiring Manager
  • Day Three:  Considering and Appreciating Your Work Accomplishments
  • Day Four:  Making the Most of Your Education and Academics
  • Day Five:  Connecting Your Experience with Your International Employer’s Needs
  • Day Six:  Putting Pen to Paper to Tell Your Story
  • Day Seven:  Polishing Your Shiny New Resume!

As soon as you sign up below, you’ll receive a welcome email, and a minute or two after that, an email with the first day of the program.

After that, each subsequent email will arrive a day later.

If you get behind, it’s no problem; the emails will continue to arrive through Day Seven and you can do the exercises as you have time.

Nonetheless, I recommend taking the time to be disciplined and do each exercise daily.  It will take you an hour max per day.  That’s a small investment to have a solid resume for your international jobs!

After the seventh day, you will have a new resume that tells a compelling story to the people hiring for your dream international jobs, instead of just listing a bunch of degrees and work experience.

You won’t be boring.  And you will draw much more positive attention.

Finally, a quick caveat:  truly incredible resumes aren’t made in just one go.  They require multiple iterations of changes and review.  And the best resumes are tweaked for each employer you apply to.

But this free program will get you much of the way there — in just seven short one-hour steps.

If you follow the workplan and do the exercises, I promise that you will have a far better resume in seven days than you have today.  And you will be more competitive for the international jobs you want!

This course is 100% free, all you have to do is register as a How to Work Overseas member.

Your free membership gets you access to this great mini-course, plus other premium content such as full-length interviews with people who have successfully worked overseas. (Non-members only have access to selected clips.)

So sign up now by clicking here.  You’ll go through a quick registration, free process, which will then send you to all of the great members-only content!

I hope you’ll join — with just a little effort you can give yourself a big advantage in your international job search!

Click here to start your free, seven-day mini-course!

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