Your resume is an essential part of your marketing campaign. It is your “promotional” piece advertising your product – YOU. It is necessary you have a powerful resume. Your resume speaks for you and is often the first impression an employer has of you and your capabilities. If you can’t communicate your value in two pages of information, which can be skimmed in 90 seconds or less, you will have a tough time getting interviews.
The major sections of a resume include the following, and will occur in this order. Keep in mind that each person probably won’t include each one of these sections.
- Contact information
- Summary Statement
- Professional Experience
- Professional Training
The first piece of information on your resume should be your name, current address, daytime phone number(s), and e-mail address. Most importantly, you should list a phone number where someone, or a message recorder, can always be reached. Employers will not spend time tracking you down. Make it easy for them to contact you.
- Do not include any other personal information at the top (or any other part!) of your resume (marital status, number of children, etc.).
- If the phone number where you can be contacted has an answering machine, make sure your message is professional, not “cutesy.” (“Hello, John and I are in the backyard drinking margaritas right now and can’t come to the phone” won’t work!)
We recommend including an objective, but keep it extremely broad. Why do we believe an objective is necessary? When promoting a product, the package will “announce” what is inside. If you bought a box of food with no name on it, imagine the confusion as to what that product was.
This means that before you write your resume, decide who your target audience is and what position you are looking for. When you decide these two points, we suggest using a title, rather than a sentence. For example, instead of writing, “Seeking career opportunity as a sales manager with a company that can offer me continued opportunities for success,” you can simply write the heading: Sales Manager or Sales Professional.
We recommend the title because it is broad, direct and to-the-point. Think of your resume as the packaging on your product. The packages you see in the grocery store have only a few words in the titles: OREOS, BANANA YOGURT, YELLOW MUSTARD, CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM. The purpose of these titles is: 1) to catch their attention, and 2) prepare them for exactly what will be inside the package. A brief title will serve the same purpose for your resume.
The purpose of the summary statement is to give the employer a quick snapshot of your qualifications. Here is a breakdown to help you create a targeted statement. Look at the paragraph you are about to create in three parts.
The first part is a very broad and general statement. It should state how long you have worked, what you are doing professionally, and what type of companies you have worked for. If you were working as an engineer for the last ten-and-a-half years, it could read: “Financial Accountant (Senior Accountant, Accounting Manager or your last title) with over ten years experience with two Fortune 500 companies.”
The second part needs to include a list of the skills you used while on the job and any special skills you would like to highlight. For example: Skills include _____, Proven ability _____, Expertise includes _____, In-depth knowledge of _____, or Technical skills include_____. The whole sentence or sentences would then list the skills you want to highlight. For example: “Technical skills include profit and loss statements, budgets, forecasting and variance reporting. Bi-lingual in Spanish and English.” You will want to list the most important skills you have and any other experience that will set you apart or enhance your appeal to a future employer.
The third part of your summary statement should include a character statement or something about the style in which you work. It could read like this: ” Self-starter who approaches every project in a detailed, analytical manner.” You can see that these traits would be desirable for someone in charge of finances. For sales it could read like this: “Independent manager who is goal-oriented and thrives on challenge.” Only you can identify what character traits describe you best and are important in your field.
This is how the finished product would read:
“Financial Accountant with over 10 years experience with two Fortune 500 companies. Technical skills include: profit and loss statement, budgets, forecasting and variance reporting. Bi-lingual in Spanish and English. Self-starter who approaches every project in a detailed, analytical manner.”
EXAMPLE SUMMARY STATEMENTS
Position: Electronic Engineer
General Statement: Electronic Engineer with over 20 years experience.
Skills Statement: Strengths include: designing and implementing process improvements, designing new products, cost estimating, and employee training in “Teams For Excellence” program. Strong mechanical aptitude and extremely proficient with computers.
Character Statement: Team player who motivates employees to work toward common goals.
Electronic Engineer with over 20 years experience. Strengths include: designing and implementing process improvements, designing new products, cost estimating, and employee training in “Teams For Excellence” program. Strong mechanical aptitude and extremely proficient with computers. Team player who motivates employees to work toward common goals.
Position: Manufacturing Process Manager
General Statement: Manufacturing Process Manager with fourteen years progressive and professional experience in manufacturing and materials management.
Skills Statement: Recent emphasis on kanban/pull system implementation, constraint management, and the development of self-directed work teams. Additional skills include materials, MRPII, purchasing, and master scheduling.
Character Statement: Enthusiastic manager with the ability to effectively manage a diverse workforce.
Manufacturing Process Manager with fourteen years progressive and professional experience in manufacturing and materials management. Recent emphasis on kanban/pull system implementation, constraint management, and the development of self-directed work teams. Additional skills include materials, MRPII, purchasing and master scheduling. Enthusiastic manager with the ability to effectively manage a diverse workforce.
The professional experience section lists all jobs you have had during your career in reverse chronological order – your most recent job is listed first. List all positions you have held with each company. This allows the employer to see how you have progressed in your career.
It is not necessary to list jobs prior to completing your college education, unless the position(s) is important to your current career aspirations. If you have completed high school only, list all jobs you have held since graduation.
When possible, list the months you began and ended each position. If you cannot remember the months, listing the years is acceptable. The headings of your positions will look like the following:
Current Employer Name, Location November 19__ to Present
Current Job Title (January 19__ to Present)
The body of the position description includes two parts: 1) a description of your responsibilities, and 2) your accomplishments.
An example of a description of responsibilities would be:
“Direct finance and administration for $500 million automotive parts manufacturing firm. Responsible for $150 million division covering 25 states and three European countries. Supervise 50 non-exempt and 15 exempt employees. Report to general manager and board of directors. Areas of responsibility include: finance, accounting, human resources, contracts, facilities. Also, develop special reports including board reviews, strategic plans and market forecasts.”
The second part of the position description consists of the major accomplishments you have had during this position. These should be listed in bullet format, and no more than two sentences in length. Each accomplishment should be created in the feature/accomplishment/benefit (FAB) format.
The feature/accomplishment/benefit (FAB) presentation is the first step in organizing your skills in a way that will motivate a prospective employer to take notice. Instead of listing your attributes, you will learn to grab the attention of the reader and relate your abilities to the one thing that all employers have in common – the bottom line. In short, a feature/accomplishment/ benefit orientation shows your greatest strengths and relates them to saving the employer time and money. The FAB orientation links your strengths to the bottom line by showing how you can effect your work environment. Your accomplishment statement will have three parts:
Feature … refers to the actual responsibilities you held in your previous position.
Accomplishment … pronounces your success while performing your responsibilities.
Benefit … signifies how your performance of your responsibilities has affected your past employers. Specifically, this part relates how your accomplishment increased efficiency, improved revenues, improved productivity, or reduced costs.
Another way to look at these statements is to substitute the words: Situation, Solution, Outcome (SSO). What situation was your company/department facing? What did you do to solve the problem? What was the outcome? This may be a new concept for you and somewhat complicated to understand. Look closely at the following samples and you will become clearer on how to create your own FAB statements.
SAMPLE FAB STATEMENTS
Position: Accounting Manager
Feature: Redesigned accounting system and purchased computer hardware…
Accomplishment: Streamlined reporting time…
Benefit: Reduced outside accounting fees…
Purchased new computer hardware and accounting software to redesign manual accounting system. Was able to streamline reporting time, and reduce outside accounting fees by $35,000 per year.
Position: VP of Business Development
Feature: Developed and implemented a competitive commercial overhead structure for non-government activity…
Accomplishment: Captured commercial sales…
Benefit: Potential revenues in excess of $100 million…
FAB Statement: Developed and implemented a corporate safety program which enabled plant to maintain an accident-free work environment for 429 consecutive days with a staff of 75 employees. Contributed to reducing corporate workers’ compensation claims by 27%.
Position: Manufacturing Engineer
Feature: Implemented a Certified Inspector program…
Accomplishment: Reduced the number of parts inspected upon final assembly…
Benefit: Decreased inspection costs by 45%…
FAB Statement: Implemented a Certified Inspector program which reduced the number of parts inspected upon final assembly. Inspection costs were reduced by 45%.
What Accomplishments Interest Employers?
When creating your FAB statements, keep in mind the following list of the top 12 accomplishment areas that most interest employers.
- Increased revenues
- Saved money
- Increased efficiencies
- Cut overhead
- Increased sales
- Improved workplace safety
- Purchasing accomplishments
- New products/new lines
- Record keeping
- Increased productivity
- Successful advertising campaign
Create a track record of your work history. This needs to be a re-creation or list of specific and measurable events so that later you can use these events or examples when you talk to employers during interviews.
We use the acronym S.M.A.C. to help you remember the guidelines to creating a good FAB statement. S.M.A.C. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Compatible (or Connection).
Specific for the event or achievement that you want to document. It needs to be something that you can summarize and articulate to a future interviewer or company.
Measurable in the terms of how you were graded or judged in your job performance. For a salesperson it might be sales quotas; for an accountant it might be time saved or systems created; and for a manager it might relate to people skills as in hired new staff for plant, or promoted five people.
Achievable in that it needs to be something that is realistic. If you were an accountant for NASA, using an accomplishment that helped put a man on the moon might be stretching it a bit. Future employers will recognize this fact.
Compatible/Connection is the final test for your accomplishment statement. Does it create a connection with your future employer, or will it help make a connection? Will they understand and will it stand out? These accomplishments should entice an employer in the same way a “hot” ad pulls in potential customers.
- Begin each accomplishment with an action verb – Designed, Implemented, Created, Managed . . .
- Avoid using statements that are not quantifiable. As a rule, each statement must have a dollar value, percentage or other quantifier attached to the result.
- When creating your FAB statements, think in terms of what actions you took that made the company money, saved the company money, or changed a procedure to increase efficiencies.
As stated in the beginning of this chapter, the FAB statements you create will be used throughout your job search. First of all, you will orient your resume to reflect the accomplishments and results you have realized in past positions. Secondly, any additional correspondence you write (cover letters, interview follow-up letters, etc.) will revolve around your FAB statements. Finally, each time you speak to someone (on the phone, interviewing, networking, etc.) you will relate your value through using the FAB format.
The following sections will add the information necessary to complete your resume. Keep in mind that you may not have to include each section on your resume, only those in which you possess formidable qualifications.
This section of the resume lists your education credentials, with your highest degree first. If you have a college degree, do not list your high school. Also, if you graduated over five years ago, do not include college honors and awards.
In this section, list those workshops, seminars and other continuing education you have completed in the last five years. List only those seminars that pertain to the type of position you are looking for. A typical professional training section will look like this:
Dale Carnegie Sales Training Course – 1997
Managing for Excellence, sponsored by the American Management Association – 1996
Selling Your Services, sponsored by the Boise Chamber of Commerce – 1995
If you have completed many different training sessions, avoid listing them all (if more than five). Instead, you can simply list the types of seminars along with the sponsoring organizations. For example:
Completed courses/seminars in sales, management, leadership, and computer skills sponsored by American Management Association and the Boise Chamber of Commerce.
In this section, list those professional organizations to which you belong.
In this section, list those organizations where you have held offices in the last five years. Only include professional organizations – chair of the local Cub Scout Refreshment Committee doesn’t count! A typical appointments sections looks like this:
Chairperson, American Management Association, 1997-98
Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International, 1994-95
In this section, list any current licenses pertinent to the positions you are seeking. If you have your Real Estate license, but are not looking for a position in this industry, don’t list it! This section will appear like this:
Texas Real Estate Brokers License, 1994
Texas Real Estate Sales License, 1992
This section includes all computer or technical skills you have. A typical technical section will look like this:
IBM-PC compatibles, Dbase III+, WordPerfect, Lotus, and Microsoft Word.
List the languages you know in this section. Indicate whether you are “fluent,” or simply “proficient” in each of them. A language section will look like this:
Fluent in Spanish
Proficient in French
- Don’t include the reasons for leaving your different jobs.
- Don’t include salary history on your resume.
- Don’t include any personal information on a resume – marital status, number of children, physical condition, hobbies, etc. It is illegal for employers to ask for this information, and it has no bearing on whether you are qualified for the job.
- Don’t include references on your resume. Prepare a separate sheet of paper for references only. Also, don’t put the phrase “references provided upon request” on your resume. The employer assumes this.
PROFESSIONAL RESUME TEMPLATE
City, State Zip
…Body of Summary Statement…
Current Employer Name, Location November 19__ to Present
Current Job Title (January 19__ to Present)
Previous Job With Same Company (November 19__ to January 19__)
Previous Employer(s), Location(s) 19__ to 19__
Degree-major, University, City, State, Year
Seminars/Classes, Sponsoring Organizations, Years
Offices, Organizations, Years Held
Licenses, Years Obtained
Hardware, Software, Languages, Office Skills