Just as you are about to accept an offer of a new position, your practice…
John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC
You can get resume tips in hundreds of places. Wouldn’t that advice be more useful if it came from someone who’s seen resumes from BV/LS professionals for almost twenty years?
Let us share what our experience tells us.
Resume readers skim; some more than others. Their eyes actually dart around the page as they read. Your objective is to minimize distractions so it’s easier for them to concentrate on what you’ve worked so hard to put on the page. Eliminate visual effects other than bold. Delete horizontal lines and background fill. Use italics only in rare instances; e.g., to explain particularly unusual job change circumstances, or motivation.
There is a time and a place for a Summary section in your resume. You can use it when you need to translate your BV/LS experience for the benefit of an employer outside the profession. When you’re making a move within the profession, though, a Summary only distracts the reader from the key section: Experience. There could be good material in the Summary, so don’t throw it away altogether. Take elements of the Summary that may be ‘brag points’, insert them under the relevant employer, and illustrate them with specific stories.
When it comes to the Experience section, some argue for a paragraph style and some for bullet points. The answer lies in your personal preference. It is your resume. You have to feel good about it, and that it represents you. Regardless of the choice you make, follow the same basic guidelines.
- Write about what you accomplished, not merely what you did. Write about results, not merely tasks. Use stories to illustrate. Concentrate on stories about how you helped solve a problem for the client during the engagement, and what you’ve done to help work get done more productively and efficiently at your office.
- If you list items in a category (e.g., types of engagements, or client industries), don’t stretch the list beyond three to four items. Limit each bulleted phrase or sentence to a single category.
- If you decide to go with bullet points, use the simplest round bullet. Any other visual effect risks being a distraction that you don’t need. If you feel compelled to use two different versions because you have prepared a subset of points, it’s likely you have too much detail to begin with.
It’s tempting to sub-divide a given Employer section if you’ve been there long enough to advance up the ladder and grow in responsibility, but it’s not as useful as you might think. Focus on the title and the work you do now because it’s that experience you’re trying to leverage into a new position. When you separate sections with prior job titles and dates of employment you can undermine yourself by leaving the immediate impression with the reader that you’ve had several jobs in a short period of time. Even if the reader understands it’s all a single employer, there’s a distraction in the arithmetic you invite the reader to do when you provide separate dates.
If BV/LS is a second (or even third) career for you, work to make the BV/LS experience no less than one-third of the total text devoted to Experience. If your total Experience is long enough to require two pages, do your best to restrict page one to BV/LS experience. If that requires, in turn, that you condense your pre-BV/LS experience, don’t consider that a negative.
If you’ve been out of school more than two or three years, the experience you have is more important than the education you received. That’s why the Experience section comes before Education. When it comes to writing this last section, there is an inverse correlation between the time since graduation and the level of detail you should include. Once you’re more than four or five years out of school, you don’t need much more than degree, school, grad date and a GPA (it it’s especially strong).
There are any number of things your resume can do without. Here are a couple:
- Computer skills. BV/LS employers assume you have basic computer skills, including Excel. Don’t take up valuable space by listing them. On the other hand, listing specific BV/LS databases and resources can be helpful. But, do it in the relevant section of Experience.
- “References Available on Request”. Every potential employer who reads your resume will assume this. Saying it brings no value.
Your resume is your calling card. Its purpose is to help open doors for you. Let it do that by shining the brightest and clearest light on you and your experience.