Your employment history is where the reader will spend the
bulk of their time (if they get to it!). This is where
you provide evidence to back up the bold claims you make
about yourself and your capabilities in your career
summary section, and where you prove you can do the job
that your objective statement says you want.
You want to describe a mix of responsibilities and
accomplishments in your job history section. The two
most common mistakes are:
These 4 items will demonstrate that you can do the job:
Hard skills required to do the job: technical skills, computer systems, software.
Experience with those skills: responsibilities, depth and breadth of knowledge.
Results: accomplishments, problem solving, highlights of your performance.
Soft skills: communications, team work, management, leadership.
The solution is a two-step approach:
First, think of your resume as your "greatest hits,"
not your "complete anthology." You can be positive
and honest without detailing every setback.
One of my clients came to me with a resume that needed
revamping after she'd been out of work for several
years. Her job experience was extensive and impressive,
yet read like a boring laundry list of routine
activities that are expected in her type of position.
There was nothing to make her stand out from the crowd.
And then she had this kiss-of-death statement about one
publication she worked for: "Note: magazine ceased
publication as of June/July 2000 issue."
I thought she was kidding me! Does that statement paint
the candidate in the best light? No! We took that line
out and simply stated the dates when she worked there.
There's no need to spell out every gory detail of every
job; stay focused on the positive. Your years of hard
work still count, even if the project failed, especially
if -- as was my client's situation -- the failure wasn't
your fault or was beyond your control.
Second, for each item in your Job Experience, ask:
"So what?" In other words, describe the benefit of
what you did in terms of the impact it had on your
department or the company. Was time or money saved? Did
you get new customers or keep existing ones happy? And
Asking "So what?" helps you tell a better story. The
idea is to make your tasks into stories that show the
results you have achieved, which speaks to what you can
do for your next boss, department, and company. Here's
Before: "Created system for customer service representatives"
Question: So what?
After: "Created system in MS Access for customer
service representatives, allowing calls to be completed
faster and with fewer complaints. Worked closely with
service reps to ensure usability."
Here's another example, from a client's "before" resume:
Sole full-time editorial staff member.
Relaunch bimonthly women's service and inspirational title.
Completely revamp content, which included developing
all new departments and bringing in different writers.
After discussing her experience using the Magnetic
Resume process and asking "So what?", we wrote the
following blurb to kick off this job description, which
tells the reader much more of what she's capable of:
Recruited by publishers to relaunch and reposition
the magazine with the goal of increasing readership
through a softer, broader appeal, making it more about
spirituality and less about religion. Responsible for
facilitating and clarifying the publisher's vision;
translating the "parent company's formula" into a
women's service magazine.
This blurb was followed by a few bullet points that
highlighted specific hard and soft skills she used, and
showed the breadth of her industry knowledge.
One-Minute Makeover: Is there anything in your
job experience section you're not proud of? Take it out
or reword to focus on the positive. Then ask, "So what?"
and add numbers whenever possible to put your successes
Scott Shane Holt has seen it all while hiring over 100
people on Wall Street, in good times and bad, and as an
executive coach helping managers and other professionals
advance in their careers.
Find out if your resume has any other common resume
blunders that could be stalling your job search by
reading the FREE 12-page report, "Resume Killers and How
to Avoid Them." Just go to