Professionally Speaking

Résumé Makeover

This month, Steve takes a reader’s résumé and gives it a fresh look.

Harry, first of all, let me congratulate you—you’ve succeeded! You’ve communicated from the “other side.” Seriously, when your e-mail came in, I was on vacation so ">Greg got to do all the heavy lifting this month. Actually, I like Greg’s “makeover” of your résumé. It accentuates what you have done more than where you did it. As Greg says, wherever possible, stress results and quantify them. I do want to emphasize one of Greg’s comments, however, and that’s that you shouldn’t be sending out a “generic” résumé (unless, of course, you’re one of those pathetic individuals who goes from booth to booth at trade shows handing out résumés indiscriminately). Your résumé should be tailored to each opportunity in which you’re interested.

I know, many readers are saying, “But isn’t that what the cover letter is for?” To a large extent, that’s correct. Your cover letter should emphasize why you’re interested in, and qualified for, a specific position. But, if you’re inquiring about a managerial position and you send in your résumé such as Greg has redesigned, no matter what your cover letter says, your résumé emphasizes your technical achievements. Instead, you probably need to change the wording of the summary and rearrange your achievements to put your experience as president of MNO Solutions higher, plus emphasize your MBA. Similarly, if you’re going after a network engineer job, you need to stress your networking experience, especially the scale and scope, and your CCNA.

What should go on a résumé? Everything you want a potential employer to know about you that’s relevant to the position—and some things that aren’t. What does that mean? Well, when applying for a specific position, emphasize what’s relevant but don’t leave off significant accomplishmsents that may not be directly related. I have received résumés for positions in the past where I thought, “Not exactly what I’m looking for in that job, but this person also has experience for another position I need to fill.” This doesn’t mean that you should include your teenage paper route or Frosty Freeze experience (unless you’re applying at a newspaper or an ice-cream maker).

Greg has restructured your résumé in a non-chronological fashion, which has a couple of advantages: You can rearrange your experience to put more relevant items first, and you can avoid putting dates on it. This last point has some plusses and minuses. In our column on age discrimination, I urged the reader to leave dates off the résumé so there was no solid clue to the résumé reader as to the applicant’s age. On the other hand, putting dates with the positions may show stability (or lack thereof) and a steady progression of responsibility.

Page 1, before...
Page 1. Before...
Page 2, before.
Page 2. ... Before, continued.


One-page resume, after.
Page 3. After.

Quick, what don’t you put in a résumé? Everything that’s totally irrelevant to the situation (but it’s not easy to only give categories here). For example, no one should put their hobbies on a résumé unless it could be relevant, as in stating that your two cats came from the local animal shelter if you’re applying for that shelter’s systems manager position. These relevant personal interest items, whether in your cover letter or your résumé, could be what gets you noticed.

Most of the point of this, Harry, is that your résumé needs to be very flexible. No two companies should get the same version of your résumé. That’s what word processors are for! To some degree, creativity counts; but like Greg, I’m not encouraging you to do any fantasy writing. Résumé inflation has become widespread, and employers are doing much more verification than before.

Good luck with your search. Remember, lead with what you’ve done (experience), not what you know (certifications).

About the Author

Steve Crandall, MCSE, is a principal of ChangeOverTime, a technology consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio, that specializes in small business and non-profit organizations. He's also assistant professor of Information Technology at Myers College and a contributing writer for Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Aug 5, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

This is good. I can be truthful without cringing about having too much education and way too much experience and way too much time sitting under the trees waiting for the fruits of paradise to bloom.

Sun, Jan 1, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

really liked it, plan to massage my own along these lines!

Fri, May 9, 2003 Philip Squires London

Thank you. Very instructive!

Thu, Nov 21, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I used it!

Wed, Nov 20, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous


Tue, Nov 19, 2002 Anonymous Toronto

Expect more similar articles!

Thu, Nov 7, 2002 Richard Florida

Very well done. It gets right to the point . Anything else can be covered at the interview...

Thu, Oct 31, 2002 sam singapore

pretty good

Wed, Oct 30, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous


Tue, Oct 29, 2002 Joan Schliewenz NJ

I thought I knew it ALL about resumes, which I do as a sideline for people...thanks for the valuable input! You've shown me the light, in fact, many lights!

Fri, Oct 25, 2002 Steve USA

It will give me an idea how to redo my resume since mine looks a lot like the "before" resume (two pages long in small text).

Tue, Oct 15, 2002 JO India

This is really professional way to show our resume. I am going to follow this in my resume. Txs steve.

Tue, Oct 15, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

well done

Tue, Oct 15, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I really like the way you converged all the data together. I think i am gonna steal this and use it as my resume template.

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