One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Would you like resume advice from the experts? TheLadders.com Resume Service is here to help. Contact our experts directly, or if you’re feeling lucky, send us your resume for entry in our Does My Resume Stink contest to win a complimentary rewrite.
This month’s contest winner, John Doe, has director-level experience in multiple areas of marketing strategies and brand management. He has also developed a strong consulting client base because of this expertise.
Now on to this month’s before and after resume examples:
Appealing to an employer and a freelance client
The first step in the writing process was to develop a strategy to separate him from equally qualified professional peers. This can be challenging for someone like John, who is pursuing multiple job opportunities, using multiple areas of expertise. It had to appeal to both a potential employer and a potential client.
After two years of independent consulting in 2007 and 2008, John wanted to return to a corporate environment. He was considering two career directions – targeting a large or global company or perhaps a smaller, regional firm. He hoped to wear multiple hats and play an integral role within an organization.
Therefore, I decided to present the last two years of work as a consultant in exactly the same manner as his previous corporate employment – focused on skills, knowledge and experience to leverage his strong background in various capacities. Last, given there was no information included about past employers on the original resume, we added context for those that were not “name brand.”
Streamlining a crowded format
John tried to make his original resume stand out by adding a prominent red square at the top left edge of the resume. But a resume needs to be written for computer scanning as part of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). I was not sure how a keyword scanner would read the box, so I decided it was too risky to include.
The original resume had no easy way for a reader (or ATS) to extract areas of expertise from the job content. By separating these into a simple table format in the new resume, this section now allows for a quick visual review. It also includes keywords for a computer to scan. Each of these items is a place holder which can be edited for different opportunities.
The content was crowded, with no spaces between bullets, so nothing stood out to attract the reader. Also, there was a very wide left margin, so it gave the document a lopsided look and did not make full use of the available writing space.
We corrected the formatting to let the information breathe and tell the story.
John’s original profile covered a lot of his work experience, but nothing stood out. The new resume includes:
1. A headline that places him at a director level
2. A strong statement that he offers marketing strategies and brand management, including clear subsets
3. A brief paragraph that matches how he describes himself
4. A listing of industry experience as a separate paragraph
These are all important selling points.
Deciding what to condense and what to expand
In the new resume, the duties are condensed in to the first two lines for individual jobs, instead of multiple bullets.
Marketing roles are not always measured by tangible specifics, like sales numbers and quotas. We had to find other ways to make it clear that John gets things done that really benefit the organization. I decided to bold general categories as an alternative to inserting bullets.
Each job has four to six sections, some of which list high-profile clients. It expands the resume from two pages to three, but I thought a two-page resume would understate what he has to offer. A quick review of just the bolded words gives a summary of how John’s career has progressed into areas of more responsibility and impact.
In an effort further to condense the dense information, we also combined education, training and publication into one section because there was just one listing under each. I included the publication because it differentiates him from other marketing professionals. I removed most of the award listings from the original resume because they were older or no longer relevant. However, the 2001 President’s Club award is included as a separate bullet. It is unusual that a person in a marketing role is recognized through the President’s Club, so this can be a good talking point in an interview.
Even if brand management is your expertise, it is hard to step back from your own professional background, and objectively convey what you have to offer. A resume writer is trained and experienced to play that role in the collaborative writing process.
John now has a “master resume” that clearly presents him as a senior executive with both broad and deep experience in all aspects of marketing strategies and brand management. He can make a strong contribution as a key member of an executive team by providing strategic planning and expertise. He has a strong record of developing and managing profitable initiatives.
His new resume is crisp, professional, easy to read and can be edited for different opportunities.