Resumes and CVs - Resumes for Experienced Candidates

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A Marketing Tool

A resume is a marketing document and a summary of your experience, education, and skills. Its main purpose is to convince a potential employer to interview you. Viewing your resume as a marketing tool expands the focus from what you have done to what you would like to do. When writing an experienced-level resume, the first question to ask is, "Who is the audience?" Understand what job and industry you are targeting with this resume. Know what is sought and valued and reflect that in your document.

Talk the Talk

Research is an important step before writing/revising your resume. Read job descriptions and identify the wording most often used. Review employer websites to assess their approach. Conduct informational interviews in your chosen industry to discuss desired skills and experience.

Understand any jargon that is particular to the industry or trends that are developing. In addition, research the skills required of the job so you can highlight them and appropriately promote yourself in your resume. Be sure to incorporate skills that are transferable from prior positions to this new position, especially skills that will be important to the employer. Include appropriate skills such as communication, teamwork, building strategic working relationships, organizational, etc. in your resume.

Then, review your experiences. Do your descriptions reflect what you have learned through your research? How can you rephrase your experience to incorporate the language of your target jobs and industry?

Just the Highlights

As you gain more and more experience, everything you have done will no longer fit on your resume. While it is important to account for your time, you do not need to give an in-depth description of every job you have had nor do you need to continue to include all of your experience during college. If it is related, include it with an explanation; if not, you can start to cut down or eliminate older experiences. Be aware that related experiences can come from a variety of sources, not just work. Emphasize classroom, volunteer, and other experiences that have provided you with relevant skills and expertise.

Career Changers

As a career changer, one of your biggest challenges is convincing a potential employer to interview you based on your resume. Your research and ability to restate your background in new terms is critical. Pay particular attention to your transferable skills. Be sure your resume reflects what you can do for the new industry. The more knowledge and applicability you can show in your resume, the more likely you are to be viewed as someone ready to handle the new challenge.

Format

There are several formats that are appropriate for an advanced resume including the following options.

Reverse Chronological Resume

The reverse chronological resume is the most common. It presents your experience from the most recent to the past. See resume page for more details.

Functional Resume

The functional resume presents your background in categories based on skills. This type of resume can be enhanced with an appropriate objective, especially for students or graduates changing careers.

  • The categories should showcase your strengths and be based on the skills sought by your target industry.
  • The skills most valued by the industry are the category headings with bullet points describing your accomplishments or experience with this skill.
  • It is helpful to follow the skills section with an experience section that gives a chronological work history (without descriptions since those have already been included in the skills descriptions).
  • Additional sections may include education, volunteer work, computer skills, etc.

Hybrid Resume

The hybrid resume is a combination of the reverse chronological and functional resumes.

  • An experience section may be split into several types of experiences (e.g., Professional Experience and Additional Experience, or Marketing Experience and Teaching Experience) in order to put your most related experience first and/or to draw attention to a particular type of experience.
  • A profile, summary, or objective section at the beginning may quickly clarify to the employer what you are offering and/or what you are seeking.

The Proof is in your Accomplishments

For experienced-level hires, employers are looking for candidates who can come in and start producing. Therefore, they seek candidates who have a track record of accomplishments. Wherever possible on your resume, quantify results, describe changes you have implemented, highlight areas where you were given or took on increased responsibilities.

You want to demonstrate that you have a track record of success.

Things You Should Do

  • Keep the resume to one page if you are a recent alumna/us. If you have over ten years of experience, you can think about going over one page. Adhere to the industry standards.
  • Be consistent with formatting.
  • Establish clear headings.
  • Focus on accomplishments and skills as well as responsibilities that you gained from unpaid and volunteer experiences.

Things You Should Avoid

  • Listing everything. Just include the experiences and skills that match what that employer requires.
  • Short changing yourself by only listing paid experience.