Construction Veteran Breaks Resume Rules

To do justice to Tom Emil’s construction career, resume writer Dan Dorotik had to commit a few resume crimes.


Rules are meant to be broken. Dan Dorotik, a certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders, has broken a few in his day, including the rule that said a resume should not exceed three pages.

But not without great care, he said.

Consider the case of Tom Emil, a 59-year-old construction project superintendent who recently turned to Dorotik for help with his resume.

Dorotik wound up doing what’s generally considered heretical: He wrote a four-page resume. After going back and forth with Emil, whose original resume was six pages long, Dorotik checked with professionals in the construction industry, who confirmed Emil’s assertion that long resumes are industry-appropriate.

“Several told me they wouldn’t have a problem with a resume that extended to several pages,” Dorotik said. “For a project superintendent, they need a lot of information about the specific projects he worked on, and they don’t care if you go beyond the last 10 years.”

Different industry, different rules

Emil’s experience and training spans more than 25 years and includes the supervision of large, complex projects with budgets that range up to $70 million. He has proven experience managing government regulations, including Storm Water Pollution Prevention and dust control and state/local inspections procedures.

He was trained in business-administration studies, attended a carpenter apprentice program, received OSHA training and more: he’s been in charge of the construction of a 21-acre, multi-use business office park complex; received FBI clearance to supervise the construction of new airport buildings; and supervised the laying of groundwork to build a new shopping center, complete with supermarket, a bank, two restaurants and multiple shops.

Emil’s resume also included accomplishments and testimonials from successful client engagements.

All that was hard to say without stretching resume conventions, Dorotik said.

Dorotik knows the risks involved in breaking the three-page-resume rule. Some recruiters and hiring managers will simply refuse to read beyond P age T hree or will disregard the document all together.

That’s why he and Emil decided to create two versions: one for construction jobs and one for jobs in other industries.

He fit Emil’s professional experience, credentials and skills onto the standard three pages. And used a fourth page to capture the accomplishments and testimonials. The four-page resume is now Emil’s regular resume, and the three-page resume, his alternate, shorter version for hiring companies outside his primary industry.

Too many words, not enough content

Dorotik’s mission to shrink Emil’s resume ironically began by adding more to it. In spite of the six-page length, the content was lacking. It was too process-oriented, Dorotik said, delineating responsibilities without saying anything about whether Emil had done a decent job. He had to beef up the job descriptions without adding extra pages.

Emil’s issues were common to senior executives who assume the reader knows more about their job than they do, Dorotik said.

“A lot of these things, I take it for granted that it’s covered in my job title,” Emil said. “All the work I’ve done, I’ve already assumed that I’m a construction superintendent — that’s my job description. Of course the job came in on time, under budget. If I didn’t do it, I’d be fired.”

In the new resume, Dorotik explained not just the elements of every project but detailed the accomplishments and budgets involved. Dorotik reminds all job seekers: A resume isn’t the place to assume anybody knows anything.