A Resume's Basic Framework

As you approach the task of  building your resume, you need to be comfortable with the standard, expected approach. It's the technique a qualified professional resume writer uses and the one hiring managers expect to see. You can find examples of this in properly written sample resumes that professional resume writers showcase.

Since the reverse chronological resume is the most common approach, this article addresses its general structure, with the parts below. Remember that the structure is flexible. Adapt it to your needs. For instance, if your only honors came in college, mention them in the Education section. If you have just one professional affiliation, omit the section entirely, unless the affiliation is significant. The framework is an aid, not a prison. Reviewing actual resume samples may help make the following description clearer, so please feel free to consult my website at http://www.shimmeringcareers.com. 

  1. Contact Information. At the top provide your name, address, phone number, and email address.

2. Header. This is the resume focal point. Here, place the position you are applying for, such as "Chief Executive Officer," and below add a brief, simple description of yourself. The employer reads this part first and it colors the rest of the document.

3. Summary. In this key part, you distill the resume into a gem. You briefly and clearly indicate how you can help the company. Try to make it direct and, if possible, lively. Avoid the trite pitches and word choices that everyone else makes, with phrases like "accomplished executive who." If you have a few dramatic achievements worth calling out, add them in a small section just beneath this one.

4. Core Competencies. List your executive skills, such as "Improving productivity." Keep it simple and state only skills you can demonstrate in your history.

5. Professional or Business Experience. This is the meat of the resume. Here you list your most recent jobs first, describe them, and highlight your accomplishments. You may want to telescope work experience beyond 15 years ago under a title such as "Previous Experience."

6. Education. Start with your most important degree (usually the highest) and work downward. In most cases, you will also be going back in time, but not always. For instance, you may have obtained a doctorate and later a master's in a different field. Start with the doctorate, unless the master's is more directly relevant to your job. Provide degree, field of concentration, and university, along with any honors such as Phi Beta Kappa. List the date of graduation unless you worry it will make you seem too old for the job. 

Omit high school graduation. The employer assumes you have passed this milestone and you can look foolish calling attention to it. Of course, be reasonable. If you attended a well-known prep school and you're sure that mentioning it will increase your chances, do so. 

Put certifications  and workshops here too, if they are central. Otherwise, note them in Special Skills below. In any case, note their benefits. Don't let them lie still.

7. Professional Affiliations. Provide the associations that will help you out and state their benefits. While professional affiliations are generally good, be careful of listing so many you convey the impression that you spend inordinate time hobnobbing with your fellow wizards—and not on the job. 

8. Special Skills. If you haven’t mentioned them already, note here your special abilities—including all foreign languages, since you never know how useful an employer will find them—and computer programs you can use. Indicate why they matter. 

9. Distinctions. This optional section includes not just awards and other recognition, but patents and publications. If you've won prizes for your work as an executive, highlight it in the header and summary. This section is really for distinctions that don't fit easily elsewhere. If you have an unusual number of one of these, such as publications, create a section for it. Note that this information usually matters more for technical positions than for general managers. But it is an excellent way to end the resume. You leave the reader with a good final impression.

If you need an experienced resume writer and career coach to help you advance to the next level, I can help you craft a game plan and a resume to get you to your goal.


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