How Selling a House is Like Writing a Great Résumé

rundown house

Part of my investment portfolio includes rental properties in and around the Greater Austin Texas area. While “location, location, location” are the top three things to consider for buying a property, other criteria are that the numbers have to “work” and the property also has be pleasing to the eye and inviting for the prospective buyer (investor or occupant) to: (1) develop an interest, and (2) take a closer look by visiting the property. The smart seller does all he or she can to attract potential buyers by staging the property in such a way that the potential buyer can envision living there with their own possessions. However, as is evidenced by the daily listings I receive from my agent, 90% of occupied homes for sale completely miss the point.

The online MLS listings are full of property photos that reveal room after room of clutter – from too much furniture and nik-naks or pink and purple walls and toys everywhere in kids’ rooms, to overcrowded garages (borderline hoarders) and front and back yards that have been ignored for months if not years. Such property conditions usually prevent prospective buyers from being interested further.

I see many parallels in home buying with writing a winning résumé. The top three things to consider for writing a winning résumé are “accomplishment, accomplishment, accomplishment.” For a résumé to invite the interest of hiring managers, it also has to be free of distracting clutter, such as:

  • Objective statements
  • Excessive verbosity
  • Lists of duties and responsibilities that aren’t tied to the higher strategic objectives of the organization
  • Lists of coursework that didn’t lead to certification, license, or degree

Such résumés reveal to me and most hiring managers a lack of attention to what will draw my attention to that person’s skills, knowledge, and experience. That candidate just won’t get a second look.

Properties for sale that have neutral colors on the walls (including the kids’ rooms), no clutter, one or more of these upgrades: appliances/flooring/countertops, and a decent-looking yard in a great neighborhood will always get my interest. If after working the numbers I can hit or exceed my threshhold for a positive cash flow, I will then visit the property in person to get a closer look. At that time, I  will determine whether to make an offer, if there aren’t any other qualified properties I am considering.

Attention-getting résumés are like these properties. They have:

  • A Professional Summary statement
  • Highlighted accomplishments (quantified, if possible, and in bold font)
  • Bullet lists in the order of importance to the hiring manager
  • A length that doesn’t exceed two pages
  • As many words as necessary and not more
  • An approach that positions the candidate as a problem solver

A candidate résumé such as this gets a second look. And if after more scrutiny, the candidate still looks good, an invitation for an interview is extended. A positive interview many times will lead to a job offer – if there aren’t any other qualified candidates I am considering.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.


Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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