Resume writing tips and fundamental format: helpful for beginners and senior level candidates.

When it comes to resumes there are a lot of opinions and resources, I strongly encourage utilizing both.   I have recruited mid-management to C level for a wide variety and size of companies serving transportation and logistics for eighteen years. Following are several of my thoughts and points on resume writing. There is no right or wrong way to write a resume and everyone has an opinion. I have read some very poor resumes that were done by non-industry resume writing services.  My goal is to hit some high points to either get you started or improve your resume.

I pursued a couple warm interviews over the years which meant I was not trying to stand out among throngs of resumes. After giving advice to hundreds of mid to executive level candidates, when it came to my resume I utilized books, internet information, and sought feedback from HR professionals before sending out the final product.  Even if you are working with a warm lead the resume will be passed to others within the organization. I can’t stress enough the importance and advantage of a well written resume.  From the resume I had before I was a recruiter, to the two subsequent versions I updated several years apart, there was a tremendous evolution.  From that experience I would encourage you to treat your resume as a working document.

The first step to success is an understanding of the purpose of your resume. You may not naturally be a sales and marketing person, but the entire purpose is to sell yourself and capabilities.

Are you writing a compelling reason for consideration and an invitation to be interviewed?

If applying for a leadership role are you really clear in your management experience?       

 As basic as that concept sounds it is often lacking in resumes I have reviewed, be clear as to what you have managed and your direct impact. In addition, provide some level of company overview and your actual role within the organization. There are some great pluses working for big companies such as enhanced training or perhaps exposure to technology. Small companies often give an employee broader and more hands on experience, think about what you gained with any employer. A title may not always be clear; many managers might be called directors or VP’s in similar roles elsewhere. Define the scope of oversight, reporting structure up and down, and what are you really manage every day. 

Think of a resume as living document, don’t be afraid to continuously add or tweak, even while you are comfortable in a position. If you remember an overlooked accomplishment go back and update the information while it is on your mind.

Before moving to content , length is a common topic. Covering mid to senior level careers on one page isn’t usually feasible, that said; avoid overwhelming the reader without selling yourself short, two is best, no more than three.

Resume Body and Content:

General format should be standard font size, do not use fancy borders and blocky headers. Use Word or PDF, a resume that can’t be opened is likely dead on arrival. Hopefully it will be imported into a computer after reviewing, make it simple to load and properly populate your information. Document file name should be last name, first name, and resume. (Smith, John – Resume)

Listing some redundant experience prior to work history is okay. However,  a key to catching attention is consistent accomplishments in each role. The pattern is taking a challenge, finding a solution, gaining buy in, and showing an improvement in each role. If you lump all your accomplishments before the corresponding job they may be hard to connect in the readers mind. Think about working at a major and small company, referencing accomplishments as bullet points prior to job history is confusing and may sell skills short.

Starting with the header: Keep it simple and clear, do not use your company office phone or email as the contact information. Avoid using Jr., generational notations, or listing degrees and certifications by your name.

Objective and career summary: Unless you have a specific purpose such as changing career directions you will be better served to save the space and clutter. Self assessments such as being team player, highly motivated, or seeking upward mobility really don’t contribute to your mission. It may sound contradictory after stressing how important a resume is, but you are only going to have 30 seconds to a minute of initial read time. The goal is to get a second read through with more thought and directed focus and avoiding the delete button.

Career history: Start with your most recent employment first.

If you have been with one company and held several positions, start with listing the company and total time of employment in bold. Then break down the time in each role along with the title. Acquisitions, merging, corporate rebranding should be reflected clearly by either showing the names listed together or noting the company names that transitioned.

Make sure you have the correct dates, even if you are passive on LinkedIn make sure the dates on your resume and LinkedIn are congruent.

One overly common fundamental resume error is not listing staff size, responsibility and scope. Titles are a fragment of information, especially without reference. If you head a department for a company and report to the COO or President, but your title is “Manager”, make it immediately clear that you lead the department and reflect the reporting structure, scope/responsibilities, and staff size. Don’t forget to include as a separate notation and labor/ associate counts in addition to supervisor and managers reporting to you.

I have received several lackluster resumes with no sizzle around achievements. During career vs. resume content discussions I have found people often just don’t think about accomplishments or steer away from sounding braggadocios. I have literally heard the sense of pride and achievement swell after asking the right questions. If you created a process implemented throughout a company, one of your ideas was programmed with IT, you changed service saving a customer from leaving, tell and sell your story.  Did you drive down cost, improve output/utilization, increase critical employee satisfaction reducing turnover, champion a process embraced companywide?

What you are doing is showing value and why they need to talk to you.

Did you stand out or were you recognized by customers or internally, receive awards?

Really look at the words you use, make sure to avoid task redundancy and using the same ones over. It’s not about a big flowery vocabulary, just different ways of saying things. Select action words, do not say I in every sentence.

Examples:

I oversaw operations.
Managed a fleet of 300 trucks with a staff of 35 in customer service and driver management.

I had budget responsibility.
Budget responsibility of $50M including yearly department forecasting.

Make sure you are consistent with punctuation. I see numerous resumes that have periods at the end of only part of the bullets and capital letters inconsistently.

Put your education, additional training, certifications and so forth at the end of the resume.

There is no need for hobbies or interests, marital status,

References should not be listed.