The Three Be’s of Writing Better Resumes and Getting a Job

October 8, 2009


FreshBooks is hiring developers and designers. As you can imagine, we get a lot of resumes from folks looking to work here. I spend much of my time every day going through resumes, looking for folks we want to interview. And I’ve been doing this for quite some time, so I’ve built up some learning around what sorts of resumes make me want to interview the resume owner.

I thought folks might be interested — whether you’re looking for a job, or looking to hire a developer, here’s some “resume signals” I’ve learned to recognize that help me decide to interview someone. I call them

The Three Be’s

Be Specific: I mean to yourself — what did YOU do? Don’t say, “Built software in accordance with requirements.” Say, “Created interface so component ABC could securely connect to service GHI. Refactored 37 objects to make them conform to RFC 1800.” If you can’t be specific about what YOU have done, why should I try to imagine it for you? Likewise, if you’re reading lots and lots of resumes, look for folks get specific like this. Chances are, they’re excited about what they do, and believe me, there’s a great deal of correlation between liking what you do and being good at it.

Be Relevant: It’s not too hard to figure out what FreshBooks does (hint: invoices are involved). Take the time to figure it out, and then tweak your resume to show us why YOU are right for US. You’d think this would be obvious — that an applicant would want to show their desire for the job, but start receiving resumes and you’ll pretty soon find an endless parade of resumes sent out with no effort to match skills or experience to the actual opportunity. And again, it turns out that there’s a pretty good correlation between people who take the time to learn about your company, and people who will do well at your company.

Be Discerning: “Discerning” is a high-faluting sort of word, but the idea here is to NOT include absolutely everything. Five-page resumes full of thick paragraphs, endless lists of acronyms and long columns of bullets just make you look like everyone else. What you leave out is as important (if not MORE important) than what you put in. If I have to pick through the unsorted debris of your career, guess what? I’m going to miss that one crucial detail that makes it obvious I should hire you.

So those are the three B’s that I’ve found useful in evaluating resumes. If you’re sending yours out and around, hopefully this gave you some insight into what sorts of things an employer like myself might be looking for. If you’re looking to hire a developer or other technical roles, hopefully you’ve got a new set of criteria you can use to manage the incoming stream.

What other criteria have you found helpful?


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.