Twice a day, five days a week on my way up and down I95 between my home and my day job at the University of Delaware, I pass a billboard that never fails to capture my attention.

It’s a billboard for a St. Francis Hospital. St. Francis is a fine, local hospital that provides good care to the folks who live, mostly, within the urban boundaries of Wilmington, Delaware. When I’ve used St. Francis, I’ve been well cared for.

Still, we have another hospital in the area, much further away, that’s a “regional’ hospital – the one that gets all the accolades and whose physicians routinely make the “top docs” list. Most people want to be treated at Christiana. Why? Reputation, perception, who knows?

So, how does St. Francis compete? It’s nothing short of genius, and has everything to do with how you should look at your resume.

St. Francis competes on waiting time in its emergency room.

The billboard I see every day? It has only two things on it. The name of the hospital and a massive digital clock under the words “Emergency Room Waiting Time.” It’s regularly under 30 minutes. And anyone around here can tell you that the wait at the fancy regional hospital, or a local urgent care, can be hours.

Imagine you’ve just sliced your finger (as I did recently). Where would you want to go?

Your resume is your billboard. It should quickly, simply and clearly tell a hiring manager in crisis how you can solve their most urgent problems. In other words, it should answer the question, “Why should I choose YOU?”

If I’ve got a vacancy in my department, work isn’t getting done. And that’s an emergency. My performance as a manager is measured on the productivity and effectiveness of my team. Think of it as the equivalent of needing to stop the bleeding in that sliced finger.

A manager doesn’t have time to do a deep dive into long text on your resume to figure out your skills or achievements. And you don’t want to distract them with anything that isn’t relevant to their immediate needs.

Think of your resume as a billboard. Tell me how you can solve my problem. Make it clear. Make it so easy to see that even if I’m passing at 65 miles an hour I get it.

Does your resume pass the billboard test? If you’re not sure – then you could probably use an expert eye. You can schedule a free, quick look here and I will let you know what I think.


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