Effective resumes typically follow an established formal structure, and there’s a good reason for this. When resumes are standardized, hiring managers can easily scan them for necessary information, and they can also compare one resume to another in a way that’s efficient, accurate and fair. So while we work to create resumes that stand out and give us an edge over the competition, it’s still a good idea to stay within the formal framework that defines the classic resume. All resumes should begin with a clear, compelling summary section. The summary should be followed by an overview of the candidate’s educational background. And the education section should be followed by a section dedicated to work history and relevant experience.
Making the Most of Your Work History Section
For most mid-career candidates, the work history portion of the resume can be broken down into distinct sections for each relevant past position. Format your resume in a way that separates each position from the others, and under each position title, offer the following information:
- The name of the company and the dates you began and ended the position. This is the easy part. Make sure your dates are accurate, and don’t alter a single word of your position title. If you were a Junior Associate Account Manager, don’t just call yourself an Account Manager. Dates of employment and position titles are easy for reviewers to confirm with a single phone call.
- The basic responsibilities that fell to you while you held the position. If the person holding this job title is expected to process incoming forms, monitor a sensor array, or generate five new client accounts per year, list these under the position title, dates, and company name. Keep this list of responsibilities as short and efficient as possible. This information helps reviewers understand your background, but it doesn’t do much to help you shine, since these responsibilities represent the minimum necessary to hold a given position.
- The unique accomplishments and victories you achieved while you held the position. This information contains the heart and soul of your resume. And since resumes should not exceed two pages and every inch of space comes at a premium, you’ll need this section to carry high impact. These are the words that will actually help you grab the attention of reviewers and get your foot in the door. So make every word count. Quantify your accomplishments and edit empty buzzwords without mercy; that means cut every adjective, adverb and phrase that could be applied to anyone but you.
Your “responsibilities” may belong to anyone who’s ever held a given position, but your “accomplishments” are yours alone. Make them leap off the page and take your candidacy to the next level. Need specific guidance with your resume and cover letter? Contact the Silicon Valley staffing experts at Josephine’s and arrange a one-on-one consultation.