An international public health program manager receives a resume makeover.
Our challenge this month was to transform an international medical professional’s clunky old CV into a streamlined global resume. The client was hoping for a position as an HIV/AIDS p rogram m anager in Africa or another crisis area in the world. Unfortunately, his old CV was not doing a good job of communicating his qualifications or the value he could offer to this specialized field. Our mission was to change that.
Easy-to-read over easy-to-forget
His old CV was written in an outline format with Roman numeral headers and job roles delineated by lettered subsections or bulleted lines. The design was neither visually attractive nor easy to read. It looked like the outline of a senior-class theme paper, not a resume. We overhauled the format and brought in the paragraph/bullet style to highlight important points.
We also reorganized the education section to highlight the degrees it contained. Dates in the education were eliminated because they betrayed his age and showed a date gap of seven years that followed his first degree. Then we streamlined the information to a much more informative and concise two pages rather than a slack three pages. The new visual appearance is much more inviting and reader-friendly.
Word choice is critical
The client had led the old CV with an objective statement that did not really say anything of value:
“Making use of my experience and skills to ensure good management of public health interventions targeting most vulnerable and underserved population.”
We replaced that with a very clear branding statement that immediately positions him for the type of work he was targeting:
“Senior HIV/AIDS Technical Advisor & Project Officer”
We also expanded the opening profile to paint a sharper portrait of the client’s strengths. The core-competencies section captured important keywords and concentrated them at the top of the resume for added emphasis. We also trimmed the training section to eliminate redundant phrasing and simplify the message.
Don’t ask the recruiter to read between the lines.
Remember: Work history should be transparent. The chronology of the old CV was confusing, making it difficult to follow the client’s career progression and geographical moves. In the new resume, we standardized the organization and grouped the positions by employer to clarify the career history while still showing the wide geographic supervision responsibility he had in Africa.
Jargon and awkward wording made the old CV difficult to understand, especially by recruiters and other readers who may not be medical professionals. We eased up on acronyms, abbreviations and jargon and replaced them with content that was still professional but much more clear and concise.
Demonstrate cutting-edge skills by expanding on only the most recent role.
The job descriptions received a complete overhaul. In the old CV, he had only briefly described his roles, so we expanded on the more recent experience. In his field, research, treatments and methodologies are ever-evolving, so we concentrated on recent activities to show he is current in the field and versed in all elements of the health crisis. We placed more emphasis on the achievements/highlights in each position so his resume will stand out among other candidates as someone with a record of getting things done in highly political situations. Passive language such as “assisting in” and “working with” was replaced with stronger action verbs, and the incorrect use of the narrative was eliminated.
Finally, there was an inconsistent use of English versus French on parts of the old CV. Since the new resume was to be presented in English, it was important that terminology and wording be consistently written in English; therefore, some translation was required. Good mechanics are essential in all languages, so we made sure his presentation was grammatically sound.
The fruits of the rewrite: a new document in the modern global resume format that will work for him in the U.S. and around the world. A former mish mash of information in a format that was academic at best is now a career marketing document that shines the spotlight on him as a great candidate.