Hot tips on resume writing II: Your skills and experience
Last week I went over the basics of what to include and how to layout your resume. In
this article I am going to focus on the key content sections. These are the
objective, your highlights or career
profile and of course, your professional experience.
The Objective Statement
1. Show a sense of direction to the reader by starting with
an Objective, which is merely the title of the position you are applying for.
Eg) Account Executive, Administrative Assistant, Editorial Contributor.
2. Recruiters do not require an objective as a rule, though
something generic may be appropriate, Eg) A senior level accounting position in
a banking environment.
3. An Objective can stand alone or be inserted into the
Highlights or Profile
4. The Profile can be in paragraph or bulleted form. If you
are making a career change the paragraph is probably more effective because you
will have to explain or walk around a skill and it is easier to do this in
5. Following the Objective include a Profile, Summary or
Highlights of your Qualifications that are a rundown of your professional
wonderment. 5 or 6 bullets is usually sufficient:
- the number of years experience at the sought objective
- special knowledge areas or “personal wonderment” successes (this can be 2
- 3 or 4 personal qualities or strengths
- and lastly, languages spoken, awards, miscellaneous info, education being
taken presently or just completed.
6. Try to be original in how you describe your personal
strengths. Don’t just make a grocery list. Make them relevant to the objective.
E.g. if you are good with numbers, you can say: possess strong mathematical
acumen as demonstrated by…
7. Only go back 10-15 years in your work history depending
on your age and years of experience. If you have been with xyz Ltd. for 16 years
you would include all positions for the entire 16 years, but only
accomplishments for the most recent.
8. There is no need to include the specific months with the
years for your jobs, except in IT resumes where they are preferred. You can
include dates for shorter stints of employment, such as contract work or summer
employment. Add “P. T”. or “Contract” to overlapping or short-term
9. Don’t put parenthesis around phrases, as this says, “This
part isn’t important.” Separate phrases or acronyms by commas or dashes.
10. Resumes should be all about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS. These
are much more important than your tasks or responsibilities. Convey what you did
for a company and what the result was: ACTION + RESULT, where ever
11. Start every sentence with a past tense action verb
unless you are still performing the skill, then it would be in present tense.
E.g. Compile, compiled: Supervise, supervised; liaise, liaised, etc. You can mix
your tenses sentence to sentence is some accomplishments are ongoing and others
you have completed.
12. Each point should start with an action verb or skill and
as often as possible, end with a result. Ask ’so what?’ or ‘How?’ at the end of
the sentence. If you get an answer, you have not finished your thought or SAR,
Situation, Action, Result .E.g. Re-organized five years worth of files for an
office of 50 people (so what?) reducing the time it takes to locate files which
allows more time for productive assignments.
13. Make your action verbs varied and descriptive. E.g.
pioneered, spearheaded, saved.
14. If you have gaps in your resume, explain where you have
been. E.g. Full time parent, 1993-1995. (Unless you were in jail or really
unemployed and unable to find work for those years.)
15. Are you saying what you mean to say? When you say
manage, do you mean manage or actively participated with a team as their
manager. Indicate whether you managed people or a project.
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking How to Build
Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It