Jan Jobseeker (name withheld for confidentiality) had a good professional background but her approach to the organization and content of her old resume was haphazard and very two-dimensional. She had outlined her basic job descriptions and then provided one achievement for each position. As we all know, you don’t hold a job for seven years and only have one accomplishment to tout. Jan was not selling the totality of the value she offered to employers.
Here we break down how we went about optimizing Jan’s resume. If you think a free resume rewrite would work for you, too (tips appreciated), feel free to check out our partner Leet Resumes.
Expanding the Profile
The first thing we did in the new finance resume was expand the profile section from one simple sentence to a more comprehensive description of her background and expertise. We also added a job headline, or branding line, for increased clarity and focus so recruiters would know immediately where she “fits.” Recruiters need to know what a client does straight away; making them guess or being vague only hurts the impact of the resume.
In addition to the new profile, we added a core competency section. This brought in relevant skills sets and functions to catch the eye of the reader and enrich the keywords for databases. These keywords were deliberately selected to make her background applicable to most industries, rather than creating a pigeonhole by focusing on a limited set of industries from her past experience. The order of the core competencies was given attention with more complex skills coming at the top of the section and less complex bringing up the rear.
Using Qual Versus Quant
The content of the old resume was very passive and uninspiring. The single achievement for each position had been written in the verbose goal/action/result (GAR) style which did not work well for her content since much of it was qualitative in nature. The GAR style is rather outdated but when used, it is best with metrics. We switched the achievements to bullet statements and expanded them to show how she brought value to each position.
Infusing Management Skills
On the most recent position, we provided additional insight on major duties and highlights. The old resume, while stretching to three pages, was actually rather thin on meaty content. We placed emphasis on her higher-level management skills versus more hands-on (and less impressive) finance and accounting duties throughout the first two positions. The wording was also punched up by eliminating the passive voice and pulling in strong verbs and vivid descriptions.
Organizing an Effective Hierarchy
The education and licensures section on the old resume seemed jumbled in both its organization and appearance. We reformatted and reorganized the content to emphasize her MBA first and pulled the CPA into a category of its own. Notice we also removed the dates of the degrees since all were older than ten years.
Trimming the Timeline
The employment timeline received a much-needed trim. Jan had gone all the way back to 1981 with her experience descriptions. We shaved off ten years to keep the information as relevant as possible and to help her avoid being tagged for her age in the screening stage.
Re-formatting for Success
The formatting and visual appearance of the old resume was plain and inconsistent. For example, headers did not stand out to guide the reader through the document, and font styles varied. We created a much smoother, professional appearance and used bold to draw attention to key items such as job titles. Further, the dense paragraph format was shifted into a combination of text and bulleted statements. The old resume was a loose three pages but through selection of material and formatting, we brought it into a tighter, more organized design that was a full two pages.
The end product is a much more attractive document that does a much better job of describing what Jan accomplished across the many years of her experience in financial management.