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Developing an Effective Resume

These recommendations are not provided in any order of preference.


Target your resume and your approach. Use the job description of the position you want to apply for to prioritize your resume. Usually the skills and qualifications are listed in the job posting in the order of their needs. Your resume should be tailored to reflect that. If you don't have the right key words for that specific job, you might be bypassed, regardless of the experience you have. Most resumes are not only scanned electronically, they are read electronically.  Many people make the mistake of trying to appeal to a broad audience.  Construct a resume that speaks to the employer and their needs. Lead with the expertise most relevant for the position in question, while treating the rest as "additional experience." 

No "objective" or "career goals" statement at the top are recommended.  We recommend a "Summary", four to six statements about you and your most impressive achievements that are relevant to the position you are applying.  

Far too many resumes fail by making claims that are vague to the point of banality. Examples include "good interpersonal skills," "fast learner," and "conscientious." If your resume reads like a politician's stump speech, start over. 

Follow this main format:

  • Name and contact info, including email address
  • Summary
  • Professional Experience
  • Education
    Certifications (If specific certifications which you have are noted in a job description, then show your certifications immediately following your summary.)
  • Computer Skills
  • Language Skills
  • Professional Affiliations and/or Memberships


Chronologically list your employment history from current or most recent experiences and work backward with less emphasis on older experiences.  Positions held over ten years in the past should be treated in summary only, lest the reader think you peaked a decade ago.

Add a line of description for each employer, regardless of how well known you feel the organization might be.  Typically, this includes total revenue, public or privately held, product or service and market position.  If it doesn’t fit on one or two lines, edit it down.


Always show your actual job titles.


The majority of the text should be conveyed in “bullet” form, highlighting achievements more than responsibilities.  Introduce each achievement and/or responsibility with a past tense verb.

Accomplishments need to be quantified whenever possible. As the Wall Street Journal shows, numbers are the language of commerce. Try dollars, ratios, percentages, whatever - but do use numbers.

International experience is highly desirable trait. IAS – International Accounting Standards or IFRS International Financial Reporting Standards experience should definitely be pushed, as well as any experience with multinational environments, multi-currency environments, foreign exchange and derivatives experience.

Summarize your Software and/or Operating Systems experience in its own section. You can entitle the section “Software-Operating Systems”, “Computer Experience”, “Systems Experience”, “Systems Implementation Experience/Computer Skills”, etc. Best to show specific versions of software used.

Any software package listed in this section should be noted in a bullet item under the specific employer/position where this software was utilized.  For instance, if you show SAP in your “Computer Experience” section, you would need to have a bullet item under the employer/position where you used SAP, such as:  “Navigated the Business Objects SAP interface to run volume reports producing key performance metrics to support business decisions." 

If you had hands-on, active involvement with an implementation of a software package, very important to note this in a bullet item under the Employer/Position where this implementation occurred.

If you have held multiple positions with one company, note as follows:

2005  - Present
Company Name
$2 Billion, publicly traded, international manufacturer

Controller (June 2007 to Present)

Accounting Manager (March 2005 to June 2007)

Professional Affiliations belong at the end of your resume and should definitely be listed, as long as they are relevant to your career.  Treasurer of your local condo board is not relevant.  Really keep it to "Professional affiliations. 

Your college accomplishments are not relevant on an executive resume.  Nor is your personal background. Including unimportant material on an executive resume displays a lack of judgment as to what is truly important. 

Take a look at your resume from the employer's perspective: "I'm the company and I'm spending 'X' on you.  What is may return on investment?  How can you make my life better?  How can you make the company more profitable?  That is what your resume should scream to the reader.  Particularly your accomplishments from your employment.  You want to answer:  Why me, and not one of the other people whose resumes are sitting on the employer's desk. 

Leave room for white space on the page.  Clear organization, typeface and layout are critical for an attractive, reader-friendly resume.  If it's too busy or wordy, its next stop will be the trash can.

Keep in mind that this is a factual marketing document.  It is not an opportunity for you to write a novel about your career.

Remember... Your resume is your introduction to the employer!