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Tips and techniques to present a 30-year career

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Published: January 2, 2012
Candidate’s Overview

As is the case with many of my clients with 30+ years of experience, Frank came to me with an existing résumé he had contained to one page, given he was still under the impression that a résumé had to be one page.

In fact, Frank was so brief in his descriptions of his positions, he had used just 45 words to describe his most recent nine-year role, a mere 25 words to describe his previous position of 21 years, and another 19 words presenting what he did in the military during the infancy of his career.

The remainder of Frank’s one-page résumé was filled with a lengthy education section spanning at least one-third of the page, especially long given that it was only presenting two certificates and no degrees. A one-sentence objective statement and six-line volunteer section rounded out his one-page résumé.

The Problems

The problems with Frank’s résumé were that it (1) was an inappropriate length when presenting 30+ years of experience, (2) unnecessarily aged his candidacy by presenting very dated information upfront on page one, (3) did not present his experiences in a value-based manner and instead focused on the basic duties he performed, (4) lacked focus by not defining a career target, and (5) was unexciting through a combination of poor word choices and formatting.

The Solutions

The first step in transforming Frank’s résumé into a value-added tool was to gather as much information as I could about his career. Through a lengthy consultation I discussed Frank’s positions, the challenges he faced, the results he achieved, and the value he contributed.

I also discussed where he wanted to go at this stage in his career so I would know how to relate his past experiences to his current objectives. To overcome the five key problem areas I implemented the following solutions:

(1) Résumé length: I transitioned Frank’s résumé to an appropriate two pages in length. His most recent position, formerly described in 45 words, was now presented in 295 words with concrete examples of how he added value to the organization.

(2) Unnecessarily aging candidacy: By presenting a fairly robust description of Frank’s most recent role, combined with a fully developed qualifications summary, Frank’s earlier position spanning 1979-2000 fell to page two.

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