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Crafting a Streamlined Resume When Everything Seems Relevant


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Ira writes: I have been asked to create a brief resume for a friend who has an extensive career history. He has a professional background which is varied and I feel that everything he has done is very relative to the situation he is applying for. I feel the resume needs to combine both functional and chronological aspects of his career and expertise; however, the same problem arises — it ALL seems relevant. How should I target/focus this resume? What could be deemed unnecessary, if anything? How can I condense a 20-year-work history and list of achievements into 1-2 pages?
The Career Doctor responds: The No. 1 rule of resume writing is focus. You must have a focus when you write a resume. A resume is not a work summary; it is, however, a marketing document that clearly shows why a job-seeker is the perfect candidate for the job. If your friend truly has a varied work experience, you could categorize those experiences within the resume — but why not just do a standard chronological resume? (A side note for inexperienced job-seekers: everything goes in reverse chronological order, with the most recent information first.) Also, the rule-of-thumb is that you do not want to list work experience that is more than 15 years old, partly because you do not want to give away information about age, and partly because technologies in most fields have changed greatly in the last 20 years. As for page length, you can certainly go to two pages for someone who has that much experience, and some resume-writing experts say you can make an executive resume as long as it needs to be. As you are writing the resume, remember to focus on quantifiable accomplishments. Other key resume rules: make it perfect/avoid all errors; use traditional fonts/sizes; avoid graphics and excess colors; provide detailed contact information; do not include salary information, names of supervisors, or references. One other tip for someone who has a lot of experience. If you have done a number of projects or consulting work, you might consider an addendum to your resume that focuses on them specifically. Bottom line? This resume sounds like it may be too much for an amateur to tackle. I would probably recommend that your friend invest in a professional resume writer.