EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I know that all of us take great pride in being “out of the box” thinkers, but there are situations that taking an innovative approach is the same as shooting yourself in the foot.

One of those situations is in being innovative with the standard resume format.

The traditional resume begins with your contact information: name, address (including email address) and your phone numbers. A summary, much like your 90-second announcement should follow. Next is your work history in reverse chronological order with a short definition of what each company’s business is all about, your titles and the years you held them and for your more recent jobs going back say 15 years, some accomplishments. You end with your educational credentials.

It is a tried and true format. I would say that 90% of all resumes I see are in this format. The question is whether or not this is a good thing. I would suggest to you that it is essential if you want your resume to every get into that “keeper” pile.

Consider your morning newspaper. How would you feel if they changed the format on you every day so you never knew where to look for that information you felt was vital to starting your day. Furthermore, aren’t all of us accountants? Don’t the differences in the format of vendor invoices and invoice numbers drive you crazy? You just never know where to look for the information you need to check those little puppies off some list you are working on.

Resumes are read “at a glance.” Your first goal is to make your essential information easy to find. That summary at the beginning is vital to ensuring that your paperwork gets into the right pile for review. (No, not the one for the marketing assignment, the one for the CFO job!) And, yes, I see resumes all the time where one can’t tell.

Your home address is important because for most jobs to be filled, local candidates are given first preference. If you are moving to that location, either make a note on your resume or be sure to make clear reference to it in your cover letter. (Don’t make the reader guess why you have interest.)

The reason you provide a short explanation about the business of each firm where you worked is that industry experience is also very important. While not a deal killer, there should be an easy analogy between where you have been industry wise and where you are going. Although I wasn’t born yesterday, many of those reviewing resumes were and they simply don’t know.

Making your early work history flow by providing year ranges for your responsibilities will show a career track and make a review of that issue simple.

The point here is that “in the box thinking” is what is required for an easy to read and absorb resume. The box is a given. How you fill it in and the care you take to maximize the information in the box is what will win the day for you.

And you know that format you were considering where you have to hold your resume in front of a mirror to read it? Don’t even think about going there.

Regards, Matt

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