The Highlights...

This is where I will be placing the highlights of my MrL8Nite job hunter blog. These are the postings that are the the most heavily referenced, the ones readers have said were the most helpful getting started, or my favorites.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Above the Fold - Work History

The last topic that we’re covering in the “Above the Fold” discussion is your job history. Ideally the prior sections on your resume (Contact Info, Objective Statement, and Career Summary) have been brief enough to get you close to the middle of the page, but not past it. If you’re already past the middle of the page, then you might want to consider compressing or reducing the earlier items, because it’s important to get at least part of your current (or most recent) job details to start above the fold.

But let’s back up a second. What type of resume formats are we looking at? To start with, we should focus on a classical chronological resume. This is where you list your title, your firm, the dates, and maybe the location of the job, followed by a paragraph or several bullets of accomplishments, successes and tasks in reverse chronological order. The work history section might look something like this:

Relevant Work History

Most Recent Title Dates
Most Recent Firm Location
(A 1-line description if the firm is not well know nor easily Googled)

An introductory paragraph of 2-4 sentences used as a “setting” that describes the business, your involvement, and your role all laced with strong keywords (nouns and verbs) to spin the “story” of your job in the mind of the reviewer. The purpose of this paragraph is to set the stage for the following accomplishment bullets.

  • The strongest, most relevant accomplishment (using the STAR method), with supporting numbers if at all possible – your references should be aware of and supportive of this action.
  • At least two or three more bullets with other relevant accomplishments (still using the STAR approach, or maybe just TAR or AR). Make sure it’s different enough from the prior bullet to not sound redundant

Next Most Recent Title Dates
Next Most Recent Firm Location

An introductory paragraph of 2-4 sentences used as a “setting” that describes this next business similar to what you did above.

  • As above, this first bullet is a strong STAR statement of accomplishments or success.
  • Ditto….ditto….ditto…

If everything works properly on this first page, your title, your firm, the first paragraph, and at least the first bullet of this first job will appear “above the fold”. This is the stuff we want the reviewers to always see – enough to convince them that you have the talent and skills they are most interested in so they’ll continue to read the rest of the resume. For Functional or Hybrid resumes it’s a bit different. You might have an extended “Relevant Experience” section again with probably a mix of paragraphs and bullets…but I’ll cover that in more detail in a later post.

Personally, since the world has changed and a resume is more about you and your talents than it is about your firms, I think you need to set that tone early. Notice, in the example above, that your title came before your company name. This is because in this day and time, you are being hired based on your skills and your roles with only a moderate interest in your current or former firms. Remember that everything above the fold is about ME (the recruiter or hiring manager)…how I can contact you, which of your skills can benefit me, and how your former roles and actions can best be integrated into my firm. This is the story that needs to jump off the top half of the first page of a resume.

Bottom Line: Get your most recent work history to be present “above the fold” on page 1 of your resume. With today’s recruiters and managers merely glancing at resumes, these documents must contain what these reviewers want to see on the top half of the first page (what’s normally seen of a document on a PC screen at full width). I’ll detail how to do this with hybrid and functional resumes later.