EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I’m not sure why people go their own way, but the standard resume framework is very much the “gold” standard. If you accept the idea that most resumes only get 10 seconds, I think you can begin to appreciate why straying from the traditional structure can get you into trouble.

Of course your contact information needs to be at the top. This includes a home address, telephone numbers where you can be reached and your email address. If you are going to worry about being called at the office, I would only suggest that you should be so lucky. When someone wants to reach you, you want to be reachable. I believe the old saw is that opportunity only knocks once. If they can’t reach you, they might not leave a message or call back.

The next section of the resume is a summary. While I have seen a lot of bad ones, the good ones are kind of like your 90-second announcement. They are brief, but punchy. Your summary should stake out your territory and communicate your value without any trite phrases like “team player” or “bottom line oriented.” This is actually the hardest part of your resume to write.

The next big block is ALL of your former employers. Yes, I know you are as old as the hills and had a new job every 5-10 years, but all of them need to be there so your background makes sense. Take three pages if you need it to lay them out clearly, but understand that leaving out your early career stands out like a sore thumb to those who read resumes for a living. Use year ranges, not months.

As you are laying this information into your framework, write a one liner about each company. While you weren’t born yesterday, many of the people reviewing resumes were, and they may not know the industry to which your firms belonged, especially if they are no longer in existence.

The end of your resume is your education. Please, no abbreviations. (Have you ever wondered why abbreviation is such a long word?) UCLA is actually the University of California at Los Angeles as one very obvious example that many folks get wrong. Spell out your degrees as well and provide your graduation year, not the years you attended. (And don’t leave this blank either.)

Since all of us are so mature, you can save space by including fewer and/or no accomplishments as you get further back in your career. For most of us, the “stuff” we have done in the last 10 years is the most important and what we did earlier was probably similar, but at a lower level, hence no need to repeat it. (Besides, at your advanced years, you have probably forgotten everything you did anyway. Just kidding!)

For those of you who insist on being inventive in your structure, consider the morning newspaper. What if that newspaper editor took your approach and changed the order of the sections every day. Wouldn’t it drive you crazy?

One inch margins on every page. Put your name and the page number at the top of 2nd and 3rd pages. (Please, no 4th and 5th pages and no half pages!) And let’s try to keep the font to 12 point. I have been going blind for many years trying to read your 8 point, very important information. A sharp electronic pencil for redundant words and ideas is your best friend.

I know you like to be different, but when it comes to the basic structure, this is one time to blend. Instead of trying to be different, try being exceptional and compelling.

Regards, Matt

Comments are closed.