ABC’s of Hiring #10: Resume Writing Simplified

A world class-resume is vital to the success of any job search. The sole purpose of any resume is to get an interview and it requires your very best efforts. There are two resume formats that are universally used. Here’s what you need to know:

Functional resumes

A skills-based resume, while not ideal, can be effectively utilized. They are used when you have broken time in your career or want to change careers. If you have had different jobs over a short period and are worried about being labeled a “job hopper”, this format can also be the answer. They are perfectly appropriate for recent college grads. However, functional resumes do raise suspicions that you are trying to hide something, so be wary of using this format. A functional resume must be customized to fit your circumstances.

Reverse chronological resumes

This format is the standard by which most are judged. The vast majority of hiring managers want industry specific skills and experience and this format allows you to showcase your career. Overall, it should be easy to read, easy to see a progression of responsibility, easy to see key accomplishments and readily show what you are qualified for.

Standard format

  • Header — Highlight your name and include your address, cell phone and email address.
  • Objective  Should be customized to the position you are applying for. It helps confirm who you are and what you feel you are qualified for in a specific way. You cannot effectively position yourself as “all things to all people” and this is where you need to be very clear about what you want. 
  • Summary Be careful not to sound boastful or use puffery to describe your overall persona. It is important to consider what words search engines will use to identify you and use them specifically. Use fewer adjectives to summarize your skills and limit this to 3 or 4 sentences max.
  • Experience
    • For positions, list the company, its location and your title on the left, with dates on the right, for each position held beginning with the most recent. Don’t assume that the reader knows your company, so you should explain their markets, products, size, etc., either in a company line or better yet, when you explain your responsibilities.
    • Next show your responsibilities in quantifiable terms in sentence format (3 or 4 lines max.). Think about number of employees, plants, profit centers, revenues, direct reports, etc. This is crucial to “sizing “your level of responsibility.
    • Next, list bullet points of your accomplishments which should reflect what you were able to achieve, what you did to make a positive impact on company performance, what you are most proud of, and what makes you different or better than your peers. Quantify these bullets but do not explain “how” you achieved them. Save that for the interview. Avoid a boilerplate list of responsibilities; this is not an activity based exercise but rather a performance based profile. Four or five points are sufficient for each position.
  • Education — Show your highest level of education first by identifying the institution, then your degree and the date. The major course of study is only relevant for recent college grads who should also position this section above the Experience section.


  • List each employer once, even with multiple changes of ownership but each position separately
  • Quantify your responsibilities and accomplishments. Everything you did should have value.
  • Concentrate on the previous 15 years or past 3 positions, thereafter, provide less detail.
  • Limit your resume to 2 pages or 1 page for recent college grads.
  • Include your entire career but summarize/list early positions to save space when necessary.
  • Send your resume as an MS word document or Adobe pdf attachment labeled with your name.
  • Your cover letter should form the body of the email.
  • Test the format by printing it. Never split a position between page 1 and 2.
  • Wordsmith to eliminate any unnecessary words or adjectives.
  • Absolutely check and recheck for spelling or typos. Your attention to detail is crucial.


  • Avoid getting personal, no photos, date of birth, gender, religion, sex orientation or politics.
  • Leave out “References Available upon Request” which wastes space and is unnecessary.
  • Omit reference to hobbies which are usually irrelevant to the position.
  • Change an inappropriate or too personal email address.
  • Don’t lie or bend the truth, 96% of companies check information for accuracy.
  • Don’t be negative in any way. Be upbeat and positive.
  • Exclude listing organizations, associations, training seminars, volunteer work, interests, etc.
  • Minimize creativity, no clip art, colors, bold, italics, and unusual fonts. Focus on easy to read.
  • Avoid jargon, clichés, acronyms and vague wording. Use facts and figures.


Resume sample


Your resume directly reflects on how you are perceived in the marketplace and is worthy of your very best effort. Follow these guidelines and you will have a world class resume.


Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.

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