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  • Ina Rose

Passion 4 People Getting Hired: How to Write a Great Resume

Welcome back to the second Passion 4 People Getting Hired blog! This month, we’re talking about resumes. Let’s face it, just about everyone dreads writing these – but they’re essential to the job search process. We’ll go through some of the most important elements here. There is way too much to cover in one blog so we’ll focus on my favorite type of resume: chronological. The other main type, functional/one-pager resumes, will have to be addressed later.

Experience – How much to include?

For everyone who went through outplacement and were told to remove any work experience over 15 years old -- NO, NO, NO!! There isn’t enough room in this blog for all my reasons, but here are a few:

1. As a recruiter, my job is to account for all your experience chronologically and tell a story to my clients. I need to account for any gaps in the years of experience. Not that what you did 30 years ago is really relevant to your current skills but it is my JOB to make sure I know about all your JOBS. I don’t want to waste our precious time together discussing where you worked and when from 1985 but when you leave it off the resume completely, I have to spend time asking for the information and writing it down.

2. Yes, there is ageism in the marketplace but do you really want to work for a company that doesn’t value everything you bring to the table?

3. When information is missing from the resume, it starts the conversation off on the wrong foot. Then I wonder: what else isn’t on here?

General Rule: Use one page for every 10 years of experience. If you have more than 20 years, include detail for last 15-20 years and then just list titles of other jobs and the years. You don’t need to include descriptions for those.


The way your resume is formatted is as important as the content. Here are some formatting tips:

  • Maximum resume length is two pages (you can go to three IF you have 30 or more years of experience)

  • Don’t include months, just years, noted on the right

  • Make sure you have NO typos

  • Check past versus present tense

  • Create a “master” resume, from which you can create several versions, or tailor for a role

  • Don’t leave out any experience!

Each position listed should include the company and a brief one- or two-line description of the company that includes details like sales, global or national, public, private or private equity-backed, size (number of employees) or anything else relevant. Include less information if the company is a household name, but more if people won’t recognize it. Look on the company’s LinkedIn site for a brief description under the About section and

use that.

The first few lines under your title should be what you do each day/month/year to “make the doughnuts.” Include a few sentences that describe your overall responsibilities, direct reports, dollars in budget.

Writing Your Bullets

Anyone hiring you wants to know what you’re going to do to help them grow the business and/or bottom line. Think like a business owner.

How did you add value in that role? Your bulleted points for each position should reflect skills or achievements you want to highlight. Don’t use too many. Most bullets, if not all, should contain some number that quantifies impact to the business or gives context to your work. Use percentages or dollar amount. Estimates are fine, no one audits your resume!

The bullet should include why the company spent money on this great project or process you were involved in. Did it increase revenue, decrease expenses or decrease the time to do it? As an example, if something took five days and after you implemented the new process, it took four days, then you have a 20% reduction in time and therefore expense.

Examples of strong bullets and sample formatting when you have multiple roles

at one company:

PHARMA COMPANY C, Lovely, NJ 1993 – 2005

$5B Revenue, Global Public Pharmaceutical company

Marketing Finance Manager, Cancer drugs (2001-2005)

Managed financial analysis, reporting and monitoring of Generic Business and $1.3B Global Cancer Drug franchise, focusing on achieving sales and profit targets. Provided controllership activities to the $100M generic business by ensuring achievement of Sales and EBIT targets. Provided brand managers with financial reporting and analysis identifying key trends and potential risks and opportunities across geographical regions, key products and key markets.

• Achieved 50% reduction in Amazing Drug sample price for Drug Company by analyzing and correcting the Inter-Company pricing mechanism between the internal legal entities.

Manager of Finance, US (1998-2000)

Developed and institutionalized financial analytics and reporting, while establishing financial advisory partnerships with operations management in the Cancer Drug Company focusing on cost of goods, inventory, distribution and telemarketing departments.

• Eliminated $30M in differences between various cost systems and General Ledger by investigating, analyzing and correcting standards and balances.

• Achieved $67M in savings by successfully co-leading the inventory reconciliation team to reconciling inventory between the general ledger (system name) and global inventory management system (System Name).

Resume-writing is a detailed and time-consuming process. I hope this post has given you some top-line best practices that you can use the next time you need to polish your resume. Next month, we’ll be talking about how to get better organized in your job search. Make sure to stay on our mailing list so you don’t miss a post. And feel free to share this with your networks!

Ina Rose, Passion 4 People

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