The Importance of Having a Quality Resume

By Dr. Howard Gauthier


Recently, an athletic department was hiring for a position in their marketing department.  Robert, the hiring manager, was responsible for the initial review of the resumes and when asked, Robert shared the process he goes through when reviewing resumes.


He began by sharing that he believes that the purpose of a resume is to show the hiring manager that you meet the qualifications for the position.  Your resume should be easy to read and it should sell you.  For this marketing position, Robert estimated that they received between 150 – 200 resumes.  So I inquired about how a hiring manager goes through each resume and trims the list to a workable number.


What I found out is that many hiring managers organize resumes into three categories – applicants who the search committee definitely wants to review further (the “yes” pile), applicants who the search committee might want to review further (the “maybe” pile), and applicants who do not make the cut (the “no” pile).  So how does a person land in the “yes” pile of resumes?  To answer this, you need to understand how the hiring manager thinks. 


When a resume is submitted for a job, it needs to be easy to read and show that the applicant is qualified for the position.  This process will take about 15 seconds for the hiring manager to scan the resume and determine if the applicant meets the minimum qualifications (education and experience).  If an applicant meets the minimum qualifications, their resume is placed in the “yes” pile.  If a quick scan can’t determine the applicant’s qualifications their resume is placed in either the “maybe” pile or the “no” pile.  And if the applicant does not meet the minimum qualifications, or the resume is so poorly written, the resume goes into the “no” pile.


Once this initial review is completed, the search committee might go through the “maybe” pile to see if there are any qualified candidates that should be moved into the “yes” pile, but they might not.  Then the committee gets to work and starts a thorough review of the applicants in the “yes” pile.  If your resume isn’t clear or doesn’t sell you, you might find yourself no longer in the running for the position.  For these reasons, you need to construct a resume using the following guidelines. 

  1. Your resume needs to show your education, experiences, and achievements in a quick 15-second scan.
  2. It needs to be formatted in a way that effectively uses fonts, bullets, and bolding to show the committee your qualifications.
  3. It needs to have quite a bit of white space, and you should use bullets and short statements instead of sentences and paragraphs.  Don’t make the committee search to find your qualifications and achievements, make sure your qualifications and achievements are clear and easy to see.
  4. Present your most important information along the left margin because people read from the top of the page down the left margin.
  5. Use a legible and conservative font and font size such as 12-point Times.  Headings can be 14-point, but don’t make the mistake of having a font that is too large or too small. The exception to this is your name at the top of the page.  Your name should be in a larger font size such as 20 or 22 point.
  6. Have your margins between 1 – 1.25 inches.  This helps in the white space and the eye-pleasing format.

Your resume is so important in the job search process.  You typically have one shot at communicating your qualifications and achievements.  If your resume doesn’t do a good job of communicating your qualifications and selling your achievements, you’ve blown it.  Take the time to create a quality resume.  You’ll be glad you did.

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book, Execute for Success, at



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