Posted by: kerrywills | January 21, 2011

Your resume tells a lot more than just work experience

Over my career I have probably screened thousands of resumes and they still fascinate me. These are representations of ourselves and the first thing that prospective employers see. That is why I am amazed at some of the resumes which cross my desk – they just scream “I don’t care about my professional reputation”

Here are some examples that I have seen of bad resumes

  • Poor formatting – whether its wrapping bullets, inconsistent punctuation or bad alignment I usually can’t get past bad formatting to read the content. By the way, good spelling is mandatory
  • Putting salary expectations – I think this is bad form because we haven’t even discussed your candidacy and you already are making demands? I recently read a resume where the bullet right under their name said “Salary Expectation >$150k” – I didn’t read any further
  • Being too self promoting – It seems that everyone is a “Senior Leader with extensive IT delivery experience” and a “strong communicator with interpersonal skills” based on their first paragraph
  • Playing “acronym BINGO” – Please do not list every technology, version number and acronym that you can think of on your resume. This isn’t Scrabble and you don’t get points per acronym
  • Employment consistency – Red flags go up if I see long periods of time with no work experience or having many jobs over many years

My recommendations

  • Focus on formatting – keep bullets succinct and relevant but distinguish sections and key points. Make it look like you spent time on the resume
  • Tailor the resume to the role you are applying for – If the job is a Project Management job then make sure to call out Project Management experience. There is nothing I hate more than a resume that appears to be sent in mass to many positions and not tailored to the role. I have received resumes before for Leadership roles where the objective will say “to become an engineer”
  • Quantify the benefits of your work – Don’t just say you managed work, rather show the value of the work to the organization. This demonstrates value and shows that you understand the business impact of your work

In this economy there is certainly more supply than demand, and your resume is the representation of yourself and tells a lot more about you than just the words in the bullets. Ok, time to get back to work being a “Senior Leader with extensive IT delivery experience and strong communication skills.”



  1. Kerry – You are so right! Over the years I’ve been shocked at how little people focus on this very important representation of themselves. Especially on the spelling front. I will completely toss it out if it has spelling errors. Well that and the numbers/ results are what’s most important. If I’m still reading (clear, concise, no spelling mistakes) then I want to see numbers – what did you do with the opportunity you had?

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