Steve came to me with an existing resume that lacked appeal. Not based on where he had worked or what he had accomplished, but simply due to content and formatting selections. His original resume opened with a list of professional qualifications that spilled into some fragmented bullet points providing a handful of words on his skills and experiences. In the experience section to follow, Steve had presented only bullet points for each of his engagements, making a “scan” of his background virtually impossible as there was seemingly no prioritization to each list. To end his resume, Steve had presented his education, technical certifications, and achievements, the latter containing very important training, military experience, and other differentiating professional development programs.
The new approach
As Steve was seeking a community relations manager position, I knew his resume needed to be engaging, have personality, and really “show” what Steve had contributed to the communities he had served. Opening with a much more interesting summary, I first presented excerpts from performance reviews in order to immediately validate the value we were about to communicate to the reader. Through an on-point summary clearly conveying why Steve was qualified for such a role, combined with a skills list of related abilities, the reader could stop reading after the opening section of the resume and already know Steve was fully qualified and worthy of an interview.
Differentiating through experience
The experience section of Steve’s resume was turned upside down. From a sea of bullet points emerged a multi-tiered presentation of highlights, core responsibilities, and key contributions. This strategy allowed for the presentation of quite a lot of information without losing the reader’s interest. Introducing his key contributions with functional subheadings, I was able to further communicate the transferability of his experiences to his next career move.
Highlighting not hiding
As mentioned above, Steve had an accomplishments section on his original resume that contained some very important and relevant information. To ensure the correct amount of focus was paid to each of those pieces of information, I decided to break up the presentation of education, professional development, community involvement, and military leadership. Doing so would ensure nothing would be lost and all sections would have ample opportunity to add value to Steve’s candidacy.