Career Management: Resume Readings

Friend Lars Leafblad and I had been kicking around ideas about how to collaborate digitally given our many overlapping interests when Lars suggested we look at each others’ resumes and read them as if we didn’t know each other and were looking to evaluate them for a position. I thought it was a clever idea and what follows is our exchange.

Ya’ll know me and many of you may know Lars, but in case, his profile can be found here. Big take-away is he is an executive search leader who sees a lot of experienced resumes, particularly in the public and NGO spaces.

Resumes: Lars Leafblad – Resume – January 2012  / Phil Miller Resume 

Note: I tried to figure out how to make the resumes cleverly appear in the post, but for readability sake you’ll have to click and they’ll open in a separate window.

Phil’s Impression of Lars’ Resume

As always for me, everything depends on context. I’m going to assume I’m looking at Lars’ resume as if I were another search firm looking to hire him. I’ll comment where I’d ask really different questions if I were hiring him for a different role (like leading an NGO).

Summary Impression

Community oriented connector. Passionate about ideas and bridging what are often silo-ed communities. I bet he knows just about everything going on in his area and is 1 e-mail or call away from whatever information he needs.

I was struck by several things:

1 – This is an interesting guy who is very connected and into A LOT of stuff…

Most of the resume articulates varying forms of community engagement and connectedness. All of page 2 is what I would call “other” stuff. Activities, awards, education etc. That makes sense to me from the perspective of search in the space he works. He’s communicating living in that space, not just working in it. So network and diversity matter a great deal.

If he were applying for an Executive Director role at an NGO, I’d be concerned by Lars’ resume and the relative emphasis on connectedness over delivery.

2  – The brevity of Lars’ position descriptions.

I’m used to a different level of detail in the resumes I see and review.  My resume is more reflective of what I’m used to; an array of focused accomplishments or responsibilities relating to my “day job”.  We all use our real-estate differently and content analysis is a read on what the writer thinks is important relative to their community. He must think the bulk of page 2 is as/more important than depth of descriptions on page 1. In particular, interesting that current role of 4+ years merits only 2 bullets and has no numbers.

3 – It feels like a long list.

There are a lot of awards and community organizations listed. My impression was “he does a lot” and lost interest around the middle of Pg2. Began to feel like my academic colleagues CVs that list their papers. Not unimportant, but past a certain point I reach the “I get it, you’ve written or done” a lot point…

4 – The consistency of his interests and types of engagement.

Lars appears to have been a pro-active connector all the way back, particularly at the intersections of public/private/policy issues. Good thing he’s in search!

What I’d want to probe

Things I’d want to probe:

1 – Consistency and depth of results delivered.

Regardless of the role I’m interviewing him for, I’d spend a lot of time getting Lars to describe the programs and results he’s delivered. There has to be a lot more than what’s on the resume.

2 – How much business have you delivered and how satisfied are your search clients?

This seems self-explanatory, but it’s not highlighted in resume.

3 – What are you most passionate about?

Whenever I see this much activity and diversity of activity I want to know what the underlying drivers are from both a values and an intellectual interest perspective. I want to hear that my position is in the sweet spot, because there sure seem like a lot of other ways you could spend your time outside your “day job”.

4 – Why are you making a change and why did you make past ones?

I always want to know people’s thought process around change. Do I understand it and is it consistent? If not, why not?

Lars’ Response

Phil makes several astute and insightful comments regarding my resume and background. My resume is more tailored for “PR” and marketing purposes relative to my current role than it is to present myself as a candidate for employment consideration.

– “relative emphasis on connectedness over delivery” – an insightful observation and one that I will take to heart as I think about how to share and present my contributions and results achieved within my role at KeyStone Search and previous professional roles.

– I also agree that my list of civic participation and recognition could be edited and more focused on a few key items. This is a good example of how LinkedIn could be leveraged to share a more in-depth list instead of putting it all on a resume.

– “Why are you interested in making a change at this time?” is a very important question – is the candidate running away from something bad or running towards something new? It can be a mix of both but understanding someone’s motivation for change is important.

Lars’ Impression of Phil’s Resume

I will assume I’m reviewing Phil’s resume for an administrative leadership role with one of our higher education clients.

Summary Impression

Phil is an entrepreneurial and results oriented consultant who has successfully bridged the corporate and academic sectors. He appears to be highly engaged in the Carlson School community and would appear to thrive in roles where he is developing and coaching others.

What leapt off the page at me in his professional experience?

Carlson School:

– Interesting, wonder how he came to have two separate stints in current


– $350K in annual consulting revenue – impressive

– Condense “Additional CSOM Activities” -> Recruiting. Advancement.

Outreach. & highlight key activity under  each

– More visibly highlight “Undergraduate Faculty of the Year in 2010”

recognition – Community validated performance and impact is a powerful thing.


Role 1:

– $100MM in sales growing 20%+ – impressive

– Securing $2M in new funding – would seem to be innovative and entrepreneurial within a large enterprise

– Lived in China in 2006 – has global experience

Role 2:

– How do you “co-manage”? Tell me more about that structure.


– Boil down to 2 key takeaways

– May even consider removing it to provide for more room on “Outside

Activities/Honors” – the resume has lots of content and needs more white



– Dual Masters Degrees – impressive

– MA, History? BA, History – why not a historian? Tell me more.



– Put more energy here. Impressive civic leadership w/ UCC.

– Would want to learn more about your running/marathons.

– Great to see coaching skills being honed outside of the workplace as


What I’d want to probe

– Why did you return to CSOM and the higher ed sector?

– Better understand Phil’s management experience – leading direct reports versus coaching/managing others

– What keeps you motivated to continue to innovate within large institutions?

– Tell me about your experience in the classroom. Do you envision teaching more in the future? Less?

– Tell me more about your marathon running and youth coaching outside of the workplace.

– If you were dean of the Carlson School, what would be on your agenda?

– Where are you from? Tell me about your roots.

– How do you define success personally and professionally?

Phil’s Response

It’s always useful to get another set of eyes, particularly with a different perspective and experience.

I’m always torn on my resume as it fuses corporate and academic. I’m genuinely interested and passionate about both, but it can make for a somewhat confusing resume because I am reluctant to shed some older details. For example, Lars’ suggestion to just shed whole Capgemini section is probably right. I need to let it go and tighten up.

The motivations questions are spot on as well. If I looked at my resume my big question would be “have you decided what you are?” My answer would be “yes” and I can tell the story, but it certainly isn’t totally clear from the resume.

I also appreciate the perspective on punching up some of the “interesting” parts of the resume. I tend to be a little too “fact-based” and lose some story value. Having said that, I always coach students to de-empasize how much they reveal in the resume. My advice is to include just enough to prompt an interesting question from those interested.

Lars has a more integrated view of social media. Linked in came up immediately for him. I think about it differently and so hadn’t included my profile on resume. I’ll fix that.


So that’s what two experienced sets of eyes saw in each others’ resumes. I’d make a few concluding observations.

1 –   Feedback is valuable. Both Lars and Phil have realized they can improve their resume, and they kind of do this for a living J

2 – Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your resume. Lars and Phil’s are different because they are intended for different audiences and have different goals.

3 – Always be “ready now” by keeping your resume relatively up to date. Both of us were able to rapidly exchange content because we didn’t have to build a resume. We had them.

Hope this was interesting. I encourage you to find a resume buddy and do this yourself.

For more on resume construction here are some prior thoughts:

2 thoughts on “Career Management: Resume Readings

  1. Its great to read such a critical and analytical point of view on both sides of the resume, especially from someone who is as experienced in this area as you. There are so many things to think about when crafting a successful resume, and this post really puts it into perspective!

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