Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Your Job Hunting Sales Kit: the Resume (Part 2 - What Did You Do?)

2009-04-13 17:40:36

There are three types of resumes, including the Curriculum Vitae (CV) which is used more in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. With the number of immigrants to the US importing this type of document, it is important to acknowledge and know about it as a major format. In the US and Canada, a CV is primarily used in research and academic circles. A chronological resume lists your employment history in reverse chronological order by company with a brief description of the work you did. Generally this includes the company name, location (city and state/province) your title, dates of employment, basic responsibilities and key accomplishments.

A functional resume is a list of both soft and hard skills and experience followed by a brief employment history showing company, title, location and years only. A CV is an extensive list of projects and publications.

Most recruiters and hiring managers prefer a chronologic resume or a CV over a functional resume which is what we’ll concentrate on. I’ll address the functional format later on.

When you are crafting the content for your various jobs, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. Many resume books tell you that this should *not* be just a “list” of your duties. For the most part, that is true. However, you do need to lay out your role/responsibilities, personalized with examples of your accomplishments on the job. How do you figure this out?

The two tools I use when I’m talking to a new resume client are job descriptions and performance reviews. The job descriptions should be position(s) you are interested in, and if available, the one you were hired under. This allows you a chance to look at where you “were”, the bridge to where you were heading (performance reviews), and the new challenge or opportunity you are pursuing.

For example, I am a recruiter. My job description has some basics that are consistent across the field but there are subspecialties and different tools that are used. I have done what is called “full lifecycle” recruiting as well as the subspecialty of “sourcing”. I also have a further delineation as a Technical Recruiter, meaning that I have been hiring very specialized professionals in the hardware and software industry, which entails a thorough understanding of not only job descriptions but also the technologies, processes, tools, and terminology of the industry.

The presentation of my resume for a specific position is going to depend on what job I am looking at, what industry it is, etc. The content of my “roles and responsibilities” is going to be targeted, along with specific projects or initiatives I have worked on. It is *vital* that even if you held the same basic “title” that you show variance under each position to reflect your contributions to the overall team, company, project etc.

One thing to keep in mind when identifying your employer is to make sure you orient your reader immediately to the industry the company is in. If you were working for a company that isn’t either easily recognizable ( ie Microsoft, General Electric, Procter and Gamble, TGIFriday’s etc.) or that the company name isn’t descriptive (descriptive examples might include "The City of Tulsa Department of Accounting", "Bob’s Flooring", "Acme Trucking and Distribution") then you should include a brief one-sentence description of the company. You can generally pick this up from the corporate website or even a yellow pages ad. It’s the “hook” or marketing phrase the company devises to create their brand.

“F S Wholesale is the largest distributor of plumbing supplies in the state of Maryland.”

There are a lot of ways to present this information. Paragraphs, short sentences, bullet points or “lists”. The format is going to depend on 1) how much information you are presenting 2) your job content…IE a barista at the local coffee shop is going to be a much shorter entry than a regional Starbuck’s manager. 3) the length of your resume.

*One of the most common questions recruiters and career coaches receives is “how long should my resume be?

Usually job hunters are thinking in terms of pages. Since the 1980’s, we have been counseled to keep it to no more than two pages. This has been ingrained into our job hunting psyches.

But here’s the thing: nowadays, the *majority* of job seekers are using electronic media such as email and job boards/electronic applications for their job searches. Guess what? When you enter your resume content into any sort of an electronic system, I can’t tell how many pages it is. It comes up as a text box when I first start looking at it. When you send me an email attachment, I open it up and scan the top two-thirds of the page in front of me to see if there is a decent match. I don’t *care* how long it is from a recruiting standpoint.

That isn’t to say that your resume should be ten pages long. The rule of thumb is:

Two pages should be sufficient to showcase your professional history/qualifications going back 7-10 years. And that is *what you should be concentrating on*. If you have more years of experience than that, it probably isn’t relevant. Trying to fit every job on your resume going back to your college job in 1982 isn’t necessary.

Personally, I would rather have a three page resume that is clean and easy to read than trying to jam pack so much information into a document that it reads like a technical manual or dictionary.

Current trends lean toward bullet points for delineating your job content. This is best accomplished if you have a pretty steady job history, meaning you haven’t changed employers frequently (ie if you are a freelance consultant/contractor it probably isn’t your best format.) Keep in mind, the further back you go, the less content you need. The bulk of information should be in your last 1-3 positions, thinning out as you go further back.

Another question that comes up frequently is the date format. Do you use the mm/yy -mm/yy or just yy/yy?

I prefer the year-year format. I don’t care if you spent six weeks looking for a new job between May and July of 2002. Maybe you were taking vacation, or perhaps you got a severance package and took extra time to finish painting your family room. But it is true that almost all online applications want the mm/yy format, so even if you choose to use the year-year format, you should have the months of transition recorded and accessible. (Don’t even *think* about the day…choose a default of the 1st, 15th, or 25th if needed). Remember, your resume is a *sales tool*. The information should accurately and positively portray you as a valuable asset to potential employer.

Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 3 - Opening Gambit)
Your Sales Kit: the Resume (Part 1 - The Basics)

Comment on this blog
Your name:

Your email (will not be displayed):



Enter the text above to help us filter spam:

This article also appears on
Human Resources