EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

For those of you who used to watch Sesame Street back in the 70’s, there was a great skit where one of the Muppets wanted a piece of pie and a glass of milk. Although there was no pie, the Muppet in need of that particular food item kept trying different variations such as a glass of water and a piece of pie, or a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, etc.

Basically, nothing he tried got him a piece of pie.

As is always the case, many members and many folks who advise members on the structure of their resumes are trying as many variations as the Muppets on what is by its nature a tried and proven communication vehicle. Consider if your familiar morning newspaper had as many variations each day as the resumes you see.

What comes first, second and third in a newspaper or magazine (as well as our newsletter) is the result of experimentation. But, once a format seems to work, it is best to leave it alone so that your readership doesn’t get confused where to look for vital information. Resumes usually have a summary at the top, jobs listed in reverse chronological order followed by education at the very end. Sometimes education is at the beginning, but it is NEVER in the middle. (Don’t be surprised if some genius actually suggests this to you, but remember, you heard it here first.)

Not getting any interviews or reaction to your resume when applying for opportunities? Perhaps you should try a functional resume — NOT. The only time anyone is recommended to use a functional resume is when they are trying to hide something about their background such as job hopping or some other perceived malady.

It is always hard to tell what is working and what isn’t working. That said, changing the basic structure of your resume compared to what is expected is an all around bad idea.

Where you need to spend your efforts is on the clarity of your presentation. Does each company on your resume have a short “definition?” Have you combed through your resume and eliminated pablum such as “team player,” “visionary leader,” “bottom line oriented,” etc.

Clarity of writing style and formatting within the resume are where you and those helping you with your resume need to go. A 12 point font throughout wouldn’t hurt either. (Call me Mr. Magoo, but small fonts speak to an inability to pare words and unnecessary sentences from your opus.)

Have you followed the dumbest suggestion I hear these days of leaving off everything but the most recent 10 years? Or, have you “bunched” 5 older jobs into one essentially run on sentence? Or, in the greatest of innovative thinking left them off entirely so your resume makes no sense? (Sure, you started right out of college as a CFO. I’m sure you are a veritable child star!)

Traditional formats and structure have as their rationale making your resume EASY to read. In a pile of 500 you will be lucky to get 10 seconds. Best case is 2 minutes if the pile is small.

Have you made that which is important about you easy to absorb? Or, have you thrown in everything including the kitchen sink? (Yes, I know us accountants save everything, but just put it on another piece of paper.)

There are good variations on themes and bad variations on themes. Use your own common sense. Put yourself on the other side of the desk. I know that you actually DO know what others are looking for.

Hint: It isn’t something new and exciting as far as FORMAT is concerned.

Regards, Matt

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