In preparation for a recent interview, my wife saw me drawing circles on two pieces of paper. She asked what I was doing. Once I told her, she said, “You need to share that with the kids, some family members, and even write an article about it!”


She was excited about something I’ve routinely done for years.


I call this the Side-by-Side and Circles Technique for resumes. Here’s how it works:


Side-by-Side & Circles Technique For Resumes - USAA Member CommunityFirst of all, the overall goal here is to quantify how well your resume matches up with the job requirements as listed on the job posting. You must start out with a solid resume – one that accurately reflects your skills. You’ll need to ask the hard questions and avoid “stretching”, meaning that you need to be completely honest with yourself about your skill level in a particular area. In other words, if you kinda know how to, or sort of know how to, or have minimal experience with something you need to avoid overstating your level of expertise on paper. Keep it real.


  • Print out a copy of the Job Posting. Read it carefully and pay close attention to the expectations and requirements of the job.
  • Print out a copy of your resume. Use the one that you think best represents you for this position.
  • Place the job posting and your resume side-by-side.
  • Read through the job posting line-by-line, and while you do…
  • Using a pen, circle the things that jump out at you on the job posting. Circle the things you know, without a doubt, you can do.
  • Then, circle specific examples on your resume that match whatever you circled on the job posting. If you hear yourself saying, “I can do that!” AND can provide specific examples of how well you actually did that, you’re on the right track.
  • You can keep score by counting up the number of exact matches between the job posting and your resume. If the job posting lists 12 requirements or qualifications, keep score by writing 6/12, 8/12, 3/12, 10/12, as appropriate.

If you scored low, make sure you have a resume that accurately reflects your experiences. If you have a low score, it could be that you just haven’t put together a winning resume. Maybe you need to go back and improve upon your initial version.


Job postings provide clues as to what companies look for when seeking the next superstar. Pay close attention and make sure you present yourself in a way that resonates with the company with a resume that removes any doubt about why they should hire you.


Once you’ve updated your resume, try the Side-by-Side and Circles Technique again. If you score low once again, maybe you need to explore job postings that match your skills better. Remember, don’t stretch. Work toward the most accurate representation of YOU on your resume, while being honest with yourself on scoring your resume against the job requirements.


If you scored high, make sure you apply for the job now!


Keep in mind; if you took an honest assessment of your resume while scored against the job posting, you’re probably in the running for an interview. Remember some job postings result in companies receiving thousands of resumes, so to remain competitive in today’s job market, you’ll need to appear to be a match.


Simple as it sounds, the Side-by-Side and Circles Technique is something that’s helped me either apply for jobs that look like the right fit or helped me improve my resume. This technique kept me from stretching my skills too.


I hope the Side-by-Side and Circles Technique helps you identify your skills, score them against the job posting and ultimately get hired!

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1 Comment
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Limitless Contributor

Keep up these types of postings, and you'll soon need to heed your own advice.