Friday, April 11, 2014

Is My Cover Letter and Resume Too Long?

A Real Story of Cover Letter and Resume Reading Pain

A while back, I received a 2 page single spaced cover letter followed by a 6 page single spaced resume. The cover letter were combined in one document; a document that I thought would never end.

Nobody asked me if this cover letter and resume were good or bad. I just decided to answer my own question proactively because I’m passionate about helping security professionals to maximize their personal performance.  You can’t perform at all if your cover letter and resume fails to open interview doors.

Cover Letter

I don’t know what the cover letter said because I scrolled down to the resume and skipped the entire cover letter.

Profile / Summary

I don’t know what the top of the resume said either because the Profile / Summary section consumed ½ of the first page of the resume.  It was like the Profile section was an extension of the cover letter.  The dictionary by the way suggests that a Summary is brief and concise.  This summary was neither brief or concise.


Below the Profile section was a logically laid out Education section.  I thought I was starting to get somewhere.  I need to know how this person is educated.  I hoped that my resume review experience would get better from here on and alas, in front of my eyeballs was a chart telling me about every class and certification this person had ever been exposed to.  This section was entitled Personal Credentials.

Personal Credentials

Once again, I skipped this section out of self-defense and let my eyes continue to scroll down through the resume. 

Professional Accomplishments

Next I found a section called Professional Accomplishments.  The order this person used to lay out his information was logical but the next problem arose.  The Professional Accomplishments were laid out in a tiny font, one bullet statement after another.  All the bullets were crammed together in a page-long list that appeared to be one big glob of text.  I couldn’t take it any longer. 

I didn’t have time to read all this text to figure out what the resume sender was great at delivering.  I scrolled down through all the Professional Experience and got to page 5 where again, there were boxes loaded with every technology buzz word in Wikipedia. 

Wait, didn’t I already see a chart of keywords and buzzwords at the top of this resume?  Yes, I did. There was another chart called Technology Skills.  Below this chart were two more pages of resume.  This couldn’t be happening I thought to myself.  This was a nightmare that seemed to have no end.

The Problem

This resume was sent to me in response to a Global CISO role where I’m looking for a business-focused security leader who possesses enterprise risk management experience and high emotional intelligence. 

To be business-focused, a CISO has to be an expert at communicating with his / her audience in a language that the audience can understand.  A CISO must also be able to communicate in clear, concise forms whether the communication is in written or verbal form.

A 2 page cover letter followed by a 6 page resume is neither clear or concise and it shows no evidence that the resume owner could function as part of a company’s “C” suite.

The Solution

  • Write your resume for the audience that will receive and review your resume
  • Build your resume so it can be visually scanned and understood in a matter of seconds.  Specifically, 5 to 15 seconds.
  • Write your resume so nobody who reads it has to interpret anything.  If you are a technology professional, can a CIO understand your resume?  How about the Head of Legal?  The Chief Risk Officer? The Head of Human Resources?  The CFO?, The Controller?
  • Stop writing resumes that are written in keywords and buzzwords that nobody outside of your profession can understand.
  • Write your resume in bite-sized pieces.  Give your text room to breathe.  How about some white space between topics?

Help Is Available

If you’re a highly talented technology professional, chances are pretty good that you’re not an expert in technical writing, business writing and creative writing.  That’s okay.

The best resumes in the world have elements of technical writing, business writing and creative writing.  If writing in this manner is not your strength, get help.

For $259.00, I provide my resume clients with a 1 hour highly focused resume consultation where I’ll use one of my door-opening sample resumes as the teaching guide.  
  • I teach my clients how to create a resume that will speak to any audience it lands in front of. 
  • I teach my clients how to write in business English.  
  • I teach my clients a resume writing methodology that opens doors.

Here’s What My Clients Say

"Jeff's resume coaching service was the best $259 I've spent in a long time!" Chief Information Security Officer
"You are a genius…" Vice President, Corporate Security
 "The new resume must be gold because I have an interview on Monday and we just finished the resume last week" Chief Information Security Officer
​"As always, it was great to speak with you and to get your expert advice yesterday" Global CISO

"Thank you very much for your assistance.  I have to say I really like my new resume"  Manager, Information Security Services

How May I Help You to Maximize Your Personal Performance?'s Security Recruiter Blog