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Resume Writing

Information for Experienced Job Seekers

Experienced level resumes, compared to entry level resumes, are very targeted; to each industry, career field, type of position, and ideally to each company in which you are interested.  By tailoring your resume, you are able to tell a compelling story, to demonstrate your passion, and emphasize the value you will add to the company – differentiating yourself from the competition, and demonstrating your expertise as it relates to the needs of each industry or field.  Experienced level resumes also focus on your accomplishments and achievements – another way to differentiate yourself – not just your general duties and responsibilities.  Remember that when you’re looking for a job, you’re trying to sell yourself to prospective employers, and that your resume is your primary initial selling or marketing tool.  

In preparing your resume, it’s important to keep your overall goal in mind.  You want a job, but your immediate goal with your resume is to generate interest among perspective employers, and open the door for interviews.  To this end, your resume needs to be all about what you can do for the employer,  i.e. what value you will add, not what they can do for you.  You need to understand each employer’s needs, and use your resume to address those needs, making yourself a perfect match for the position.  You want the employer to immediately see you filling the position.  So you’ll want to target your resume so that you can match your qualifications to each company’s particular needs.  Determining the needs of your targeted industry and companies takes research.  Use all resources available, including the company website with posted job descriptions, industry reports, professional associations, research sites like Hoovers and Glass Door, LinkedIn, and the RIT Wallace Library.  You’re trying to get information on the industry, company environment, products, and services, to be able to determine how you’ll fit in based on your skills and strengths.  LinkedIn is great for research; check the jobs tab, search your targeted companies, and research people who are doing your targeted jobs, by using keywords in the Advanced Search section.

After you’ve done your research and determined your targeted industry, field and companies, you should do some self-assessment, to determine what sets you apart from the competition.  This then becomes your personal brand or value proposition – what you’ll be using to sell yourself to perspective employers, as companies use brands to sell their products (think of Nike and Coke). Your brand incorporates your vision, mission, strengths, and skills.  Once you’ve determined your personal brand, this should be reflected in all your marketing materials, including your resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile, to give people a consistent message about what you have to offer.

Resume Categories

In addition to the standard resume categories, (see our general Resume Writing page for more information) be sure to include the following in your experienced level resume.
 

Contact information.  Include your LinkedIn URL, and your personal website if you have one.  A physical mailing address is less necessary these days, as employers primarily contact candidates by email or phone.
 

Profile.  A profile, also called summary of qualifications, or professional highlights, is a great way to start your resume, by providing a concise summary of what you have to offer right at the top.  It allows you to match your qualifications to the employer’s expectations, demonstrate your fit for the field, company, and position, and make the employer want to read the rest of your resume.  In constructing your profile, be sure to include your personal brand message – your value proposition, strengths, and assets – as well as the position you’re targeting, so that you don’t have to include an objective as well.  Use keywords – and put them into context - and powerful statements to demonstrate your skills and qualifications relevant to the industry, company, and position.  Avoid fluff, or overly common statements that can apply to everyone and don’t show proof of your accomplishments.  Remember, you want to show what you can do for the company and what you bring to the company that makes you stand out.
Summary Samples (PDF)
 

Accomplishments.  Key accomplishments or career highlights can be incorporated into your overall summary, or some people prefer to list them separately after the summary.  Be sure these are keyword rich, so that they’re picked up by systems searching for those words, and use the top skills for each job - remember you want to show your value.  Add quantifiable facts where possible, to show your value in actual figures.  Don’t use generic phrases like team-player or results-oriented; you’re trying to differentiate yourself, not go along with the crowd.
 

Skills.  Skills should be near the top of your resume, and easy to find and identify.  Employers often look first at your skills category, to see if you meet the basic requirements of the job, then move on to see how you demonstrate these skills.  Be sure to list all your core competencies and skills, separated into sub categories to again make them easy to find.  Include all technical skills related to your industry, using relevant key words.  If you have different resumes for different fields or industries, put the most relevant skills first for each.  These should be based on your research, and your self-assessment.
You also want to list non-technical skills, especially those that will transfer well into any industry.  Communication and teamwork are examples, but remember to dig deeper and be specific.  Definitely include skills that demonstrate leadership and management abilities.   You may not match a particular position 100%, but if you have supplemental, transferable skills that are attractive to a company, you may still be considered for the job.
 

Experience.  The experience section is where you demonstrate how you’ve used your skills successfully in a professional setting.  A common mistake people make is to just list their everyday responsibilities in their experience section, which turns it into more of a job description, and takes the emphasis off you.  You want to use this section to highlight your accomplishments, and show what you’ve achieved at your past experiences.  Past success is a good predictor of future success, which is why you want to focus on outcomes rather than daily duties.  You’re putting your skills into perspective for perspective employers; supporting what you’ve listed in your skills section with examples.  Also use strong action verbs, instead of passive words like “responsible for.”  Be sure to keep a consistent theme, and tie in your experience with your summary; everything should be focused on your targeted position.  A good way to highlight your accomplishments is to use the CAR (describe the Challenge, Actions and Result) method, or the SMART (Situation, Metrics, Actions, Results, Tie-in) method.

Other tips for your experience section:
•    Include a Key Accomplishments section
•    Focus on hard skills – support with examples
•    Tie in with your summary section–  there should be a common theme 
•    Emphasize strategic thinking – the strategic impact you had; for example:
•    Old – Worked on a project that doubled the capacity of the plant
•    Strategic – Road-mapped a plant start-up from strategic planning to on-time, on-budget roll out in one year.  The result was doubled through-put and increased revenue by $2 million.
 

Education & training.  Include all relevant education and training in your resume.  List all colleges from which you received degrees, listing the college name, location, type of degree and major.  Depending on how long you’ve been out of school, you can add details such as GPA, minors or concentrations, and a few particularly relevant courses.  The longer you’ve been out, the shorter your descriptions should be, as experience becomes more important than education to emphasize.  Also add any training you’ve received since graduating from college, relevant to your field or position, including certifications, professional development courses, and courses that show you’re staying current in your field, as well as leadership training.  Include online training such as edX and Coursera.  Once you graduate from college, the education section moves to the bottom of the resume, after your skills and experience.
 

Extras.  These sections are your opportunity to differentiate you from the competition, show what makes you uniquely qualified, and demonstrate your well-roundedness.  Things you may want to include are involvement in professional associations, which demonstrates your passion and commitment to your field, and any consistent volunteer work or community involvement, which allows you to further demonstrate leadership and teamwork skills.  If you have space, you can include hobbies and travel experiences, always keeping in mind relevance to your industry, demonstration of your transferrable skills, and a possible connection to your prospective employers.  Other extras you may want to include are presentations you’ve given, articles and papers you’ve had published, and links to samples of your work.
 

References.  References are listed on a separate page, not directly on your resume.  Sometimes you can use the line “References available upon request,” but that’s not necessary; it’s understood that if you’re asked for references, you’ll provide them.  Usually you’ll be asked for references during the interview process, though some companies may ask you to provide them with your application.  You’ll want to secure at least 3-5 references; some people recommend up to 10, so that you can choose the most appropriate for each job you apply to.  They should be a mix of supervisors (past or current), and co-workers, and maybe faculty, if you’re a recent graduate.   Be sure you always check first, to make sure people are willing to provide a positive reference for you – if you don’t ask, you may find people have a different opinion of you than you thought, and may give negative information to employers.  In fact, it’s good to ask references what they would tell a prospective employer about you so that you’ll know in advance.  Manage your references by keeping them up to date on your skills and accomplishments, letting them know what jobs you’re applying to and that they may get contacted by employers, and grooming them to determine exactly what they’ll say about you to each employer.   People have lost jobs through negative references, so keep control of this important aspect to your search.

Formatting Tips

In terms of formatting, you have a choice of doing a reverse chronological or functional resume.  Most experts recommend a reverse chronological format, which demonstrates recent application of relevant skills; in other words, you can answer the question “What have you done for me lately?”  If you are changing careers, and going in a totally new direction, you may opt to use a functional resume, in which you focus more directly on your skills, especially in how they will transfer into any field.  It’s important to put your most important information and categories in the top half of the first page of your resume, where it will be seen first and will grab the attention of prospective employers.  You’ll want to put your education category towards the end of your resume; the longer you’re out of school, the less it’s emphasized, and the more emphasis is placed on your experience.  If you’ve been out of school for a long while, you can remove the dates, and just note the fact that you have the degree.  Again, make sure you have the appropriate and current contact information, and a professional email.  Lead with your profile, skills, and experience, and save the other categories for further down the resume.    You may want to save your resume as a PDF, which saves the format as you’ve designed it, while different people may have different forms of Word, and you may lose some formatting.  Keep in mind, though, that some Applicant Tracking Systems may not be able to read PDFs.

Keep the most important information – that which specifically targets the industry and position you’re seeking – on the top third to half of the first page, to grab an employer’s attention, demonstrate that you have the basic qualities they’re looking for, and make them want to read more.  In general, one or two pages are acceptable for a resume; if you have the material to support two pages, you should use two pages.  It’s the quality of your experience that determines the length.  You want to include all important relevant information that will highlight your qualifications and set you apart from the competition.  You do not want to use more than two pages, however, as your resume is meant to be a concise summary of your skills and qualifications.  If you do use two pages, never print them back to back, always use separate pages and staple together, with your name and page 2 at the top of the second page.  Again, with employers spending such a short amount of time reviewing a resume, some don’t even look at a second page, so be sure you have your most important information on the first page.

Use bullets in your categories, instead of paragraphs of information, as they make it easy to pick out the keywords quickly, and skim the resume for relevant information. Use a standard font – Times New Roman and Ariel are widely used – and don’t use a size smaller than 10 point, for easy reading.  If you use a less common font, some employers may not have access to that font and your resume may become unreadable.  Remember that your resume is a concise summary of your skills and accomplishments, so keep your information to the point, focusing on your achievements, and save your longer stories for the cover letter and interviews.  Don’t ever lie or exaggerate on your resume – you will be found out!  It’s much better to honestly represent yourself, and connect with the companies that genuinely want your experience and expertise, than to begin a relationship under false pretenses.  Keep your resume organized and attractive; make sure all your margins and tabs line up, and that it’s generally easy to read and looks professional and well put together.  Some people are experimenting with adding visual elements to their resume, including company and college logos, charts, or industry icons.  These have mixed reviews from employers, but check the standards for your particular field. The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to distract from your information; it’s more important to emphasize your accomplishments than the company for whom you worked.  

Resume Trends

Infographic resume.  An infographic is a visual element that takes information and turns it into interactive content that is visually compelling.  Some people are experimenting with infographic resumes, which will demonstrate your knowledge of current trends, and depending on your targeted industry, could be a good option. Here’s a website with infographic resume templates and samples.

Industry trends.  Other trends may also depend on your targeted industry or field.  For the computing industry, employers like to see code samples, and GitHub is a good vehicle for this purpose.  Other candidates are taking advantage of multimedia options, including their own blogs and personal websites to highlight their qualifications, and even doing video resumes.  If you do this be sure you exude confidence.  Of course online portfolios with embedded samples of your work are a good option for many creative fields.
 

Networking resume.  Another new trend is a shorter version of a traditional resume, called a networking resume.  This is more of a sound bite, which focuses on your success stories and accomplishments, while keeping your brand message.  Your education, work history and leadership are included, but minimized.  This is meant for networking events and situations, informational interviews, or other person to person contacts you may make, while saving your complete resume for applying to positions, contacting hiring manager, and interviews.  Networking resume sample

Get Your Resume Critiqued

Once you’ve put your resume together, make sure to get it reviewed and critiqued, by several people.  Our office can certainly review your resume; you can come in or email your career services advisor and they’ll give you feedback from their experiences with employers in your industry.  You should also try to have your resume reviewed by people within your industry, to make sure you have the relevant and current key words and terminology.  You can check targeted jobs to see what keywords are appropriate, as well as people in your field.  LinkedIn is a great tool for this purpose, as people load their profiles with keywords and targeted information for their field.  Many companies scan resumes and do key word searches for candidates, so you’ll want to match as many key words as possible.  There are now Internet tools to help you do a key word match, including Wordle.  This program allows you to put job descriptions into the tool, and do the same with your resume, and compare the results.  You’ll be able to see how closely your resume matches with the job descriptions in terms of key words, and see how you might be able to increase your chances of being contacted by recruiters seeking a good match!

Distribute Your Resume

When your resume is as strong as possible, make sure you distribute it through every means possible.  Add it to your LinkedIn profile, and to other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  If you have your own website, add your resume there as well.  There are headhunters, or recruiting agencies, for every industry; you can find them through LinkedIn or by doing a Google search.  Make sure you give your resume to your recruiter, and be aware that they might ask you to make changes to meet their specifications.  It also doesn’t hurt to give your resume to your circle of networking contacts – all your family, friends, professional and social contacts should be aware that you’re job hunting, and have your resume in case they meet with someone in their own networking circles that can help you, or for whom you’d be a good match.  Bring your resume, in some format, to all networking programs and events you go to; again, you never know when you’re going to meet someone who may have a potential job or networking lead.  Be creative in your means of distribution; a personal business card highlighting your skills and accomplishments might be more appropriate than a paper resume in some situations.  You may also choose to experiment with alternate media formats; a resume on CD may appeal to potential employers, or a video resume or multimedia resume on VisualCV.com may grab attention and differentiate you from the competition.   If you do choose to do a video resume, make sure it highlights and promotes you, and doesn’t show you in a negative light.

Final Tips for Experienced Level Resumes

•    Consider listing only 15-20 years’ experience 
•    Don’t say exact number years’ experience in profile – say “extensive” or “significant”
•    Remove graduation dates in education
•    Be sure to have current key words for industry – current technical skills
•    Add all social media links
•    Using a functional format?  Make sure your accomplishments are highlighted
•    Employment gaps?  Use hybrid format – highlights & core values from experiences, key accomplishments, and more details on history than functional
•    Consider adding testimonials from former supervisors that support your strengths.  You may want to add 2 or 3 short quotes from an old boss, former professor, or other professionals in your field.  This may make you a more desirable candidate, especially if you’re changing careers.
•    Remember that jargon and acronyms vary widely by company and industry, so don’t assume that everyone will understand what you write.  It’s better to state your accomplishments very clearly so that an outsider will fully grasp your qualifications.

Overcoming Ageism/Overqualified

If you’re a seasoned professional with a record of success, it’s up to you to help prospective employers focus less on your age and more on your talents and capabilities.  In all of your marketing materials and interviews, it’s essential to emphasize your accomplishments and strengths, as they relate to each particular company.  Do your research ahead of time, so you can confidently talk about where you will best fit and what you will be able to do for them coming in.  Showing that you are current with technology, by including your LinkedIn link on your resume, for example, will allay their fears that you are stuck in the past.  Focus on your recent jobs, within the past 15 years, and always highlight your key accomplishments and strengths as they relate to this position.  In some cases, a functional, instead of a reverse chronological, resume that doesn’t list the years of your accomplishments but instead focuses on the accomplishments alone, may be a good option.  Some employers see functional resumes as a red flag for gaps in employment or other issues, though, so be thoughtful about using this option.  You can talk more about this with your advisor in our office. 

Applicant Tracking Systems

Many companies use these automated systems now to screen candidates.  Here are some tips to help you successfully navigate these systems.  First, don’t combine words or phrases with a slash, unless you put a space between it.  For example, don’t say financial/business analyst, as the systems won’t recognize a slash within a word.  Next, it’s recommended that you put a company name with each job title, even if it’s multiple jobs within the same company.  Some ATSs will also look at your location to see if you’re in a commutable distance to the company, so including your zip code is recommended.  Recognize that ATSs look for a pattern to read information, so put the company name, title and dates for a job in that order; don’t add information about the company in between, as it may confuse the system.  Use a current form of email, Gmail instead of AOL, for example, to avoid dating yourself.  Put titles to all categories, including your Profile Summary, as these words tell the system what section follows; otherwise the system may skip the entire section.  It’s better to put “extensive” or “20+ years” experience instead of a specific number if it’s significant.  And don’t hide experience with a well-known company, as this is an attraction for potential employers.
Remember we’re available to assist with developing your advanced resume, providing a critique, and helping you determine how to use it successfully in your job search.

Samples

See RIT experienced level resume samples on the right side of this page 
This website also has good executive level resume samples