Resumes – Strategic Documents

Your resume is a strategic document you send out to the market… Like all effective communication, your resume must suit your audience. Be mindful of your vocabulary. Use the language of the industry you are talking to. Use a format that suits the industry and your position eg resumes of marketing professionals would be in a different format to say, academics.

Your resume should be developed to showcase you as a credible candidate who has the skills and experience to add value to the role in that particular industry. Be consistent in your messaging; your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile should be aligned.

Be sure you have researched the current market and you are clear on what strengths the industry values? Does your Executive Profile clearly show what strengths you bring and how they will add value to an organisation?

Even with the right skills and experience a strong candidate may have aspects of their background they ‘perceive’ may disadvantage them. Remember to accentuate the positive. If you are concerned your years of experience may be seen as aging you, you could consider describing your experience in other terms ie diverse, comprehensive, global etc.

Achievements, not Responsibilities

Decision makers, hiring managers, influencers, potential employers like to know specifically what you achieved. Ensure your resume shows what you achieved in your career in each role. Against each position you have held, include the scope of your role … your responsibilities, and very importantly how effective you were. List your achievements; they are most impressive when they are shown as adding value to the organisation eg reduced, increased, developed, launched etc.

Personal details such as home address, family details, and hobbies are not of particular interest at the outset. Those points could be discussed and the interview process moves forward.

Your resume is designed, like all effective communication, to make a case. In this instance, a strong case for you as being a strong candidate for that particular role! Land that interview, generate that offer!

Resumes – Three Styles

There are three most commonly used, yet distinctly different, resume styles… Chronological: this is the traditional format, most commonly used and widely accepted. The Functional resume is designed to highlight areas of functional expertise, and achievements within those areas, in turn this means with less focus on previous employment – and well suited to the candidate wishing to change career path or industry. The third is a Consultancy style – emphasis on qualifications, projects, and areas of high level expertise.

The Chronological resume

…is well suited to show career progression if you are aiming for a more senior role in the same industry, or if you have worked with a highly regarded brand.

Best not to use this style when you are aiming to change your career path, have gaps in your career or have had a number of short engagements.

The Functional resume

…is well suited when your career history is different to your focus now ie changing careers; you have expertise and achievements that are strongly transferable; your expertise has been developed over disconnected industries and unrelated positions; you have gaps in your career.

Best not to use this style if your target audience is traditional and you want to show your professional development along your career path eg promotion or a highly regarded / iconic brand was your former employer and your role prestigious.

The Consultancy resume

… is well suited if you are engaging as a Consultant, either independent or on behalf of a Consultancy firm. The focus is position, high level relevant expertise and where you applied that expertise and knowledge. That will include noteworthy engagements or projects, capability statement, senior level affiliations.

Best not to use this style unless macro level overview showing “you have done it before” suits your target audience.

Again, your choice comes down what will be the most impressive introduction of you to your target audience.

Guidelines for developing your resume

As there are no rules set in stone about how to develop a resume, the following resume guidelines will give you some thought-provoking information to help you understand the stages to work through.

Big picture

…keep your target audience in mind. Your goal is to build a resume that sufficiently showcases your professional value to an organisation that the reader wants to meet you.

Proofread the final product. Remember you are developing a standout resume so you may re-work it a number of times.


… company name and a brief paragraph about the company / division. If you reported into a senior level, show the title of the position. That is followed by the title of your role and the specific responsibilities. This can be represented as a paragraph to scope the role or if there are multiple areas of responsibility that you feel are important to list bullet point them. Then you follow with itemising your achievements. Achievements need to be an advantage to the organisation therefore substantiate them with supporting facts.

Do not list referee details. Your referees are to be protected from unsolicited callers. They are making themselves available as a professional courtesy to you. Under the heading for Referees, make the note they are “available upon request”. That way you release the contact details to the Hiring Manager / HR Consultant / Recruitment Consultant at the appropriate time in the recruitment process. It also provides you the opportunity to confirm your referees will be available to take the call at their nominated time.

Here are a few other guidelines you should keep in mind:

  • If you have gaps in your career, leave those gaps and manage the situation as part of a discussion in interview.
  • Your educational background does not need to include school if you have more than 5 – 6 years’ experience. No need to include transcript of results either.
  • Personal information eg age, marital status, children, home address are not necessary.
  • Do not use first person ie “I”. Your resume is a statement of facts.
  • Use present tense for language around your current role, and past tense for your achievements and earlier roles.
  • Short and descriptive sentences have more impact and easier to read.
  • Photographs are personal choice, but not recommended.
  • Be mindful of using industry acronyms ensuring the reader will interpret accurately. Again, it is all about your target audience.
  • Make sure your contact details are on each page and each page numbered – in case it is printed off, it makes it easier for the reader.
  • Resume length can vary: between two and four pages is acceptable.