As you might guess, I have seen thousands of resumes over the past 20 years, and some are better than others. Here are some general guidelines based on what I have learned:
- There is no such thing as a perfect format. If there was, everyone would use it, and it would not be a secret. Pick one you like and stick to the basic principles that follow.
- Tell the whole story but don’t think you have to cram everything onto one page. That was OK when you did your first resume right out of school but if you have been working for 5 or more years you might not be able to get it all on one page.
- Keep it visually scan-able. The first thing anyone does when they pick up a resume for the first time is scan through it as fast as they can. Tactfully and tastefully using bullets, bold type, underlining, and italics will allow the reader to visually scan your document and get the overview of where you have been and what you have done. Which leads to the most important guideline….
- Make it easy for the potential employer to find the most important information he/she wants to find…
where you have been and what you have done.
Remember, everything else on your resume is secondary to this. Even that MBA you slaved away at getting, going to school nights and sacrificing time and money for that piece of paper now framed and on your wall. The truth is that no matter how important it is to you, it’s not the main reason they will hire you. Nothing is more important to them than who you worked for, and what you did while you were there…especially your most recent employer. So make it easy for them to find.
Here’s an example you can follow.
RICHARD R. WATKINS
4153 South Olive Street
Denver, CO 80237-2041
Experienced banker with a 23 year proven track record developing and executing client-focused financing solutions, most recently in the energy and power sector as well as diversified industries. Strong interpersonal skills developed from effective relationship management, and successful team building. Specific expertise in:
- Debt and equity capital markets
- Project and M&A advisory
- Acquisition and bridge financing
- Due diligence, structuring and negotiation
- Project financing
- Derivatives and foreign exchange
BIG DEAL BANK, New York, NY 1993-2001 Managing Director, Corporate and Investment Banking, Energy & Power Group Managed client teams with responsibility for electric and gas utilities, as well as independent power and diversified energy companies. Completed transactions include Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) advisory, equity and equity-linked capital raising, public fixed income, project finance and project advisory, international privatization and senior bank debt.Originated first lead managed equity, first lead managed equity-linked, first co-managed IPO and the largest co-managed follow-on equity transactions executed by the Big Deal Bank energy and power group. Executed equity financings totaling $3.8bn, generating over $16mm in fee income.
- Originated lead managed fixed income financings totaling $2.7bn and $16bn of total managed financings.
- Completed merchant generating and electric distribution assignments in the US, UK, Morocco, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and the Philippines.
- Structured and negotiated acquisition and general corporate credit facilities.
- Awarded 1997 CEO’s Teamwork Award for deal team leadership.
THE OTHER BIG DEAL BANK, New York, NY 1987-1993 Vice President, U.S. Corporate Banking Group
Team leader for a group of bankers covering diversified manufacturing, service sector, and finance companies in the mid-western U.S. Major clients included Ford Motor Company, General Motors, IBM, Microsoft, General Foods, and others
- Completed transactions included leveraged recaps, Leveraged Buy Outs (LBOs), working capital and acquisition finance, cash management, corporate trust and import/export trade finance.
- Managed a team of 10 bankers.
THE SLIGHTLY BIG DEAL BANK, New York, NY 1982-1987 Assistant Vice President, Financial Accounting
Managed several different groups, including the controller’s staff of the institutional money management subsidiary.
THE LITTLE DEAL BANK, New York, NY 1980-1982
Manager, Financial Accounting
Managed a staff of 2 individuals involving money management accounting
LITTLEST DEAL BANK, Detroit, MI 1979-1980
Private Banking Officer, Commercial & Consumer Loans
Loans to individuals with high net-worth typically owners of small businesses
Very Important University, MBA – Finance, with Honors – 1987
Important University , BS – Accounting – 1979
Edison Electric Institute, Finance Committee
American Gas Association, Finance Committee
NASD Series 7 and Series 63 Licenses
Completed formal credit training
Page 2 of 3,
What I have found is this: Tell the whole story, and make it visually scan-able. If it takes 3-4 pages to tell the whole story about you, then so be it. Make it visually scan-able, using bullets, bold fonts, underlining, italics…you get the idea, and the length won’t be an issue. Obviously, going overboard here is not a good thing either because your resume will probably (with any luck) be e-mailed somewhere. The most common format today is MSWord (sorry, but it’s true), and the most common e-mail software being used (sorry again) is MS Outlook. If the sender or receiver is using anything other than these packages, then there is a chance the formatting won’t transfer. Therefore, I don’t recommend using the likes of Color, Music, Photographs, or anything else other than text. They are fun to play around with, but practicality plays a major role here.
Two reasons for dating your resume. First, it tells the reader that it is current, and second it tells you how long it has been since you updated it.