8 Ways to Make Your Resume Perform Like a Blockbuster Movie Trailer

job search resume help Sep 28, 2019

Resumes and movie trailers both have similar roles and purposes. In the film industry, a 2-minute trailer can make the difference between a movie being a flop or a blockbuster. I haven’t found a site that publishes stats on resume views and effectiveness, but if you're curious, you can see movie trailer stats on Statiista: Most watched movie trailers within 24 hours of release as of March 2019 (in millions).

When you’re job-hunting, making a positive first impression is a MUST. Especially now that online applications are the standard. It’s not a matter of how many people are scouring the newspaper and taking the time to make phone calls or stop by anymore. Nowadays, people can apply for jobs in just one-click. Some people will even apply for jobs they aren’t really interested in, simply because it’s easy. This means that hiring managers often have an excess of candidates to screen.

Application tracking systems (ATS systems) counteract the excess applications by filtering out applications/resumes that don’t meet a certain criteria. But there still ends up being too many to think they will all get considered. This is where screen-out factors come into play. When scanning through hundreds of resumes, hiring managers will discard resumes based on several conscious -and- subconscious factors.

So here’s tip #1…

Presentation is EVERYTHING

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t have time to actually read every resume, so [initially] they flip through and only stop at the ones that:

  • Catch their eye (first of all). Yes, presentation is everything. You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager. The look and feel of your resume it was does this immediately. So make sure it is easy on the eye. If your resume is poorly formatted, poorly written, hard to read, or looks like a page torn out of six-hundred page novel – It will most likely either get tossed, or end up at the bottom of the pile.
  • Then there are other screen-out factors like your email address that can sabotage your chances, but we will talk more about that later on.

In the meantime, try taking a cinematic approach to crafting your resume. Let’s have a look at how movie trailers can help you get more interviews.

Think of Your Resume as a Good Movie Trailer

Start Strong and Get Right to the Point

Once you have their attention, you need to have a strong opening that addresses the employer’s needs (and makes them want to keep reading). Do NOT start your resume with an ‘objective statement’ employer what you are looking for. This is a very common MISTAKE that I see all too often. Employers are not scanning resumes to see who they can help achieve their career goals. Employers are scanning resumes to see who can help them and how.

Examples for Contrast:

Objective Statement: Seeking to obtain a role in the IT field that will challenge me to apply my full skill set in addition to leaving room for advancement. 

*Ask yourself - Is this statement saying anything about my experience that will help the recruiter see that I am the right candidate for this job? Plus...doesn't everybody want this? 

Summary of Qualifications: Technically strong Network Engineer with a proven history of success designing cloud infrastructure solutions for enterprise level organizations.

Can you see how the Summary of Qualifications example would create more interest in reading more?

Highlight Your Achievements and Provide Context 

Movie trailers are always sure to mention Academy Awards, the biggest stars, and other attractions. You want to highlight the best parts of your experience -and- the most relevant. Do NOT waste the employer’s time with an exhaustive list of all your duties 🤦‍♀️. Tell the employer about the RESULTS you have delivered in previous roles so they can see what you are capable of doing for them. 


Less Effective: Responsible for composing emails and sending on behalf of department managers, making appointments, answering incoming calls, and working with vendors for monthly townhall meetings ensuring that the company received the best rates.

More Effective: Reported directly to CEO handling internal communications and managing calendars for the entire leadership team comprised of five executives. Served as point of contact for vendors and coordinated logistics for monthly townhalls.

  • Successfully maintained a 100% accuracy rate on all internal communications across all collateral for employee engagement campaigns and distribution of 100+ leadership messages per month.
  • Generated more than 100K in savings over the span of 3 years by building strong relationships with vendors and employing effective vendor management strategies.

See the difference here? The second example is a much more powerful presentation of the same experience without lying or exaggerating. All it took was adding a few strong verbs and quantifying. Which takes us to the next point…

Use Strong Verbs and Quantify Whenever Possible 

Strong verbs and quantification on a resume are like the special effects and background music in a movie trailer. It may feel awkward and exaggerated at first, but it has a HUGE impact on the effectiveness of your resume.

Tell the employer what you achieved -and- how. This is also illustrated in the previous example, but here are a couple more.

Less Effective: Increased sales and completed project under budget; received several awards and kudos while in this role.

More Effective: Skyrocketed sales by $1M within a year and concurrently slashed inventory costs by 48% by increasing customer engagement through digital gamification.

One more...

Less Effective: Managed the quality department and ensured that our permits/licenses were valid.

More Effective: Strategically led a team of 12 quality control technicians and held accountability for strict adherence to local and federal regulatory guidelines.

RESOURCE: You can find some ideas and decent examples of resume verbiage at www.JobHero.com.

Use Keywords

This is extremely important! But so many job seekers overlook this. Your resume NEEDS to include the words that ATS systems and humans in your industry want to see. This is equal to using market research when producing a movie trailer. Producers will research their audience viewing preferences and develop a trailer that ‘speaks their language’. - You would be reading job descriptions and crafting your resume to using the same language to describe your work experience.

Here is an example of someone applying for a role in human resources -or- asset management.

Less Effective: Distributed and kept track of all company owned computers and cell phones for new employees.

*No mention of HR -or- asset management in the above example. They have the experience, but did not convey that very well.

More Effective: Played an integral role in the onboarding process as Asset Manager, administering all company owned equipment and mobile devices for all new hires.

Focus On Your Strengths 

Even if you do not have all of the skills listed in the job description, you can still create an impressive and honest summary of qualifications by focusing on your strengths. Never bring attention to your weaknesses.


Less Effective: Good with [skills 1, 2 & 3]; very little experience with skill 4 but is a quick learner.

*The above is equal to saying – I’m not qualified for this job, but I will learn by watching YouTube videos on the job if you hire me (or go back to school, or take up a team member’s time while they train me, or all of the above).

More Effective: Heavy background in [skills 1, 2, & 3] and committed to continuous professional development to stay current with top tools used in the industry.

*In the last example, the candidate is not misrepresenting their skill set, but they are not highlighting the fact that they don’t have the all the required skills either.

See how that works?

Generate Excitement – Spoilers are Good [on Resumes]

Movie trailers are intended to create a specific mood and capture interest. The goal is to create enough interest to make you want to see the whole movie. The role of your resume is to capture just enough interest to trigger an interview request. There is a such thing as TMI on a resume.

If you try to provide enough information to make the employer to make a decision before they speak with you, chances are the decision will be ‘not to meet with you’.

Have you ever heard someone say that they didn’t go see the movie because the trailer made them feel like they already saw it? - I have!

On the same token, you do need to make sure you a clear about your relevant qualifications. Audiences may be willing to take a chance on a movie where they don’t know what to expect, but most hiring managers will not call you without knowing your qualifications (even if your achievements are over the moon).

Just remember to share only information that makes your profile more desirable as a candidate. When you pay for a movie, do you want through 15 minutes of trailers for a totally different genre? If it’s a horror movie, your audience most likely won’t want to see trailers for love stories. If it’s a PG family movie, it would be inappropriate to play 15 minutes of explicit horror; and so on.

Make the most effective use of the few minutes you have eyes on your resume by only sharing experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

For Example: If you are applying for a job as a sports newscaster or commentator, it might be beneficial to share that you were MVP on the college football team; for a job as a project manager in construction, sharing that information would not add ANY value to your resume.

 In fact, you would be wasting the employer’s time by including unnecessary information for them to read; or even worse, it might raise a red flag as the employer may be concerned about your ability to just plan, direct, and motivate (as a coach would) and fear that you will try to do it all yourself assuming that you are accustomed to being ‘the star’ of the show (aka MVP).

Ask for Feedback 

It is important to note that movie trailers are not written, produced, and edited by one person and then immediately released for millions of people to see. Movie trailers can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce, so studios gather a lot of input first.

Ask your friends, family, and or coworkers to have a look at your resume and provide honest feedback about the message it conveyed to them. Ask them specifically what they would think if they were the hiring manager or recruiter.

TIP to Get Started

Try re-watching movie trailers that grabbed your attention and you may find some great ideas about how to improve your resume to get better results.

IMPORTANT: Exception to the TIP

The one strategy I would NOT recommend adapting from movie trailers is that they tend to try and make the trailer appealing to the widest audience possible [according to an article by The RINGER called Meet the People Who Grind Out the Best Movie Trailers in the World (there a few great movie trailers for you to check out there as well, now that you can view with a different mindset)].

Anyway, aiming to appeal to the widest audience is NOT a good strategy for resumes. It is okay to have multiple resumes (just as you will often find multiple versions of a movie trailer); and one might be serve as your all-purpose resume. But you NEED to make your resume as specific as you can (aka a tailored resume) for each job you apply for whenever possible (at least per job title).

For Example: If you are multi-faceted enough to qualify for totally different job roles, you might have one resume for web development and another for marketing management. While both resumes might list the same job history, each on will put an emphasis on the most relevant achievements and keys skills for the specific role you are applying for.

You want your resume to present you as the best possible candidate for that particular role.

It may seem tedious, but it is totally worth taking that extra 20 minutes to switch up keywords and achievements to be a better fit for each job title.

I hope you found value here! Let me know your thoughts and join our private Facebook group for more... 


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