EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

While from time to time I silently wish to myself that many of our members would take the time to read a good book about how to write a resume, I find that other members have read a book or an article, but they have either read the wrong book or have misunderstood what the author was trying to communicate.

It is certainly true that the primary focus in your resume should be your most recent 10 years of experience. It is not true that there is NO interest in what you were doing before 2008, or for that matter during the last century. (Makes you sound a lot older, doesn’t it?)

I see resumes all the time now where the work history is encapsulated in a sentence that reads “and I also worked for the following firms: …..” This sentence typically doesn’t indicate the years that the person worked there, nor does it indicate the titles that were held. What it tends to tell the reader is that the person in question must be VERY old if they feel the need to hide their early work history. What is amazing to me is that often times the people who are using this device are in their early 40’s. (Oh, to be a youngster again!)

An alternative presentation I have seen is to list all of the firms where you have worked, but leave off the dates entirely for those entries early in your career. Again, I would suggest that people will believe the worst and assume you are VERY old.

While it is true that your resume is a marketing document, it is also true that those reading your opus need to get a snapshot of the total person. The companies where you have worked and the industries they represent are all very important to creating a quick mental picture of who you are and how likely you might be an appropriate candidate for the position in question. In order to get into the “keepers” pile, your background needs to make sense. If you have left out or unduly abbreviated your early work history in sentence form, it is not possible to do that.

Out on our website are several model resumes. In keeping with the idea that there is no right answer, I would suggest to you that individually they are not necessarily perfect. Still, by and large they reflect an overview of each person’s FULL work history. The names of companies, the years they were there, and a short definition of what the company does or did is there.

Whether you feel your resume would explode to 4 or 5 pages if you put it all in there, I would suggest you give it a try. In our electronic world, doing a little experimenting doesn’t cost a whole lot.

Take your overly long resume and starting at the very end, do a lot of pruning. All you need is the bare minimum as I have suggested above: companies, years, and titles. They really don’t take up much room. (By the way, don’t go to a smaller type font to make up for your reluctance to edit.)

Now, with your focus on the most recent 10 years, make the most of it. Go over in your mind what you have been doing and you will generally find that the assignments you have had recently repeat what you were doing earlier in your career anyway, only now you have done them at a more senior level.

Think back to those halcyon days when you were doing the hiring and read your resume in that light as well. Be brutally honest with yourself and you will find that some of the approaches suggested by the individuals you have been reading simply don’t pass the smell test.

Trust me, before they hire you they are going to find out your age anyway. If you have been doing something of interest to their business, your being “as old as the hills” isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference as long as you can sit up without assistance.

Regards, Matt

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