Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Professional Touch: Experience – Responsibilities

By Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

Responsibilities are the daily tasks an employee is charged with. In many cases you can cull information from your job description, but to create a truly effective resume you must go several steps further and include within these responsibilities:

1. Data that is unique to your career, field, or industry to indicate your expertise.
2. Information that relates to your job search or a particular posting to dovetail your experience with the targeted company’s
3. Special projects to illustrate how you went beyond a mere job description to become an integral staff member.

Many job seekers mistakenly believe that all duties must be listed in a resume so that a hiring manager gets an accurate picture of previous jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What Should Be Included:

1. Those tasks that directly relate to your current job search.
2. Those tasks that enhance your candidacy.

For example:

You’re a Senior Accountant at XYZ Corporation, having worked your way up from bookkeeper to junior accountant, then to Accountant, and finally to your current position. In the process you’ve become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), and are ready for a Senior Management or Executive position.

To list the daily duties you performed while a bookkeeper (posting to the general ledger, preparing bank deposits, etc.) does little to impress upon a hiring manager why you are now prepared for career advancement. Hiring managers assume that as a Senior Accountant you know – or should know – how to do entry-level tasks.

So How Do You List Your Entry-level Experience?

One way is to simply state your job and the dates you held it:

Bookkeeper (1991-1992)

Another is to give a brief overview of what you did:

Bookkeeper (1991-1992)
- Charged with general ledger duties.

The most effective is to also include any improvements you made to the process while in the position:

Bookkeeper (1991-1992)
- Instituted additional internal controls to minimize fraud and potential loss of revenue.
- Charged with general ledger duties.

If you can quantify – with a dollar figure or percentage – how much your internal controls aided the company, then this would be an accomplishment.

Presentation of Material

Your Professional Experience should include:

1. Name of Employer (in the case of mergers, both the current name and the previous name)
2. Company Location (the city and state where you worked – not company headquarters)
3. Dates of employment (years only)
4. Your Job Title (and division, if applicable)
5. A bulleted listing of your duties (ordered by level of importance, with the most important listed first)

All data on resumes – including job titles – should be structured in such a way to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative, while also being accurate. Therefore:


Misrepresent your role in a company.
- If you were the “Assistant Editor,” that is your title, unless you prefer “Editor.” To indicate that you were a “Senior Editor” or a “Managing Editor” can easily be checked out by prospective employers and could harm your chances for the position.

Consider Using:

An enhanced version of your title. For example:

Mixologist can be used rather than Bartender

Child Care Worker rather than Babysitter

Owner/Operator rather than Self-employed


- I have had numerous jobs within the same company. Do I keep repeating the company name and then the job titles?

No. Not only is that an ineffective use of space, it’s repetitive. Hiring managers soon grow weary or cautious of data that repeated again and again as it appears that the candidate has little to offer and is padding the resume. Instead, format your data like this:

XYZ COMPANY, New York, New York 1988 – Present
Senior Accountant (1995-Present)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Accountant (1992-1995)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Junior Accountant (1989-1992)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Bookkeeper (1988-1989)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Not only does the above offer data in an easily understandable and well-prioritized manner, it also shows a steady upward progression in the candidate’s career.

- How many bulleted job duties should go beneath each title?

At least two, but no more than six. Remember, a hiring manager wants a snapshot of you as a potential employee, not an exhaustive study of everything you’ve ever done. Always exclude duties that do not enhance your candidacy.

- How long should bulleted sentences be?

No more than three lines, though two are preferable. If you submit a document with large blocks of text, the hiring manager will feel daunted while scanning the document, and may choose not to read it. Bulleted sentences should be concise and to-the point. They are employed in the modern resume, rather than paragraphs, because they provide data in quick, easy-to comprehend portions.

- Do I write these sentences in the first person as if I’m talking to the hiring manager?

No. Use of personal pronouns (I, my, etc.) is not considered professional.

Bulleted sentences, within the Professional Experience section, should begin with strong action verbs (which make for more lively reading) and should provide only the most essential data to give the hiring manager a clear picture of what you do or what you have done.


• Recommended new internal controls to minimize fraud risk, which were implemented by management.

Rather Than This:

• I was on the job for some time when I noticed that the internal controls could be improved, so I set up a meeting with my supervisor, and at that meeting I told him that we might be facing some problems in regards to people stealing company funds if we didn’t have better internal controls. After a few weeks, my supervisor put these controls into place.

- Should I list all of my jobs since I got out of college thirty years ago? If not, then how do I let employers know that I’ve been working since graduating from college?

The general rule is go back no further than 15 years. For IT professionals, it’s not necessary to go back further than 10 years as the industry has changed so rapidly.

Rather than providing details for numerous jobs that have little to no bearing on your current search, the earlier positions can be briefly mentioned at the end of the last detailed job listing using the following format:

Additional Experience as a Bookkeeper for Jones & Co. in Manhattan, F.W. Schwartz in Queens, and at Macy’s in New York.

The above informs a hiring manager of your work history without including unnecessary details.

- I’m still at my present position, but some of my projects were completed months ago – how do I indicate this?

Continue to list your most important tasks first, while also ordering them so that present tasks take precedence over completed tasks.

For example:

XYZ COMPANY, New York, New York 1988 – Present
Senior Accountant (1995-Present)
• Oversee a staff of 13, including an office manager, bookkeeper, and 10 junior accountants.
• Generate financial statements for management use.
• Assisted in first quarter audit; recommended additional internal controls.

The first two tasks are written in present tense as these are on-going duties. The third bullet is written in past tense, as this project has been completed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If You Do Not Have The Required Education for the Desired Position

by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW

No matter how well you prepare for a career, it’s rare when your professional or academic background perfectly matches all of the employer requested qualifications.

Despite this, there are ways to overcome perceived deficiencies in your academic history, while proving you are a good match for the position.

1. If you have some college, but lack a degree: These days most positions require, at the very least, a bachelor’s degree. However, life experience can be as important. If you ran your own business or have a stellar work history, showcase that. After all, that’s what college is preparing you for.

Equally important is specialized training. In some industries, this may be far preferred to a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts. Be certain to list the names of courses, sponsoring agency, and the dates of completion.

Last, but not least, it would be wise to list some of the coursework you took while in college, so long as it’s related to your current career goal.

2. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, but lack a Masters: Again, the hiring authority may very well consider a candidate who has real world expertise, rather than an academic degree. This is especially true if your work history had been unbroken and has shown a steady progression to positions of ever increasing authority.

Also, be sure to showcase quantified Career Accomplishments as these provide ample evidence that you are skilled in your chosen profession, and can get the job done for the new company.

3. You have a Masters, but lack a Doctorate: In some instances, a PhD will be a requirement that cannot be overlooked. However, if you are currently pursuing a PhD, and expect to receive it within the year, you might be able to convince a hiring authority to consider you for the position. Hiring managers, especially if they are interested in a candidate, are generally willing to be flexible.

4. When specialized training is required: Before passing on these positions, research what the specialized training entails. It could very well be that your experience and academics is a close match. Just be certain to make that connection in your resume and cover letter to the employer.

Another option is to consider signing up for the training course, and including that bit of information in your documents.

The key is to always showcase what you have in a way which proves to the hiring manager that you can get the job done, and do it well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW

Recent high school graduates, some stay-at-home moms, and those individuals who are just starting trade school or vocational college are faced with extra challenges in creating a resume that will prove their worth. As with all resume content, it’s imperative to focus on what you do have to offer, rather than what you lack. All it takes is a creative approach in putting your best foot forward.


Unlike the popular reverse-chronological format that details employers, titles, dates of employment, and job duties, the functional format showcases what you know.

For a recent high school graduate or those just entering trade school, that may mean clerical skills such as typing (including words per minute), computer proficiency (list software), data entry, 10-key, some bookkeeping, tailoring (sewing), cooking (home economics skills), or whatever was learned in high school that can be applied to a real job.

In the case of a stay-at-home mom, everyday tasks such as managing a household budget, paying bills (bookkeeping in the corporate world), childcare, scheduling pediatrician visits (appointment setting in the corporate world), planning children’s birthday parties or family get-togethers (event planning in the corporate world), can all have value in a professional environment, especially in an administrative assistant role.


Many individuals erroneously believe that if they weren’t paid for work, then it has no value in the corporate world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Skills in fundraising, event planning & coordination, media relations (either speaking with the press or authoring newsletters), activities planning, and community outreach (providing after school activities for at-risk youth, organizing a soup kitchen, etc.) can be stated as skills on a resume so long as the volunteer work is relevant to the current job search. It’s equally important to indicate how these skills transfer to a corporate environment – i.e. event/activities planning may be valuable in an administrative assistant position when clerical support is needed to make travel/lodging arrangements for an executive or when a corporate party needs to be organized.


Even a basic entry-level position such as reception requires skill in answering phones and greeting the public. Determine what employers generally want in an employee, through online searches, then dovetail your strengths with their needs.

For example, a recent high school graduate is seeking a job as a receptionist. The information to highlight on this individual’s resume is any school activity that would tell the hiring manager this is a people-person, with a pleasant demeanor, who is always willing to help. Information that might relay this would be functioning as a hostess at a school-sponsored Las Vegas night or a fundraising supper, or perhaps this individual represented the school to prospective students during campus visits and tours.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Professional Touch: Maximizing Computer Skills with Specifics

by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW

All too often data in resumes is presented quite vaguely, leaving the hiring manager to wonder what the candidate really knows, and what skills they actually have. This is especially true in regards to Computer Skills, whether the applicant is an office worker or an IT professional.

For example, an office worker may feel it’s enough to list skills in this manner:

Technically proficient in Microsoft Office and other software.

After reading the above, the hiring manager may very well wonder what other software? What part of Microsoft Office – all or only Word & Excel? And what version?

When your data raises more questions than it answers, it’s no longer effective. To maximize your information, include specifics. For example, the previous statement should read like this:

Technically proficient in Microsoft Office (Premium 2000), including Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, Access, PowerPoint, Front Page, and Photo Draw. Additional expertise in Word Perfect, Quicken, Peachtree Accounting, Lexis-Nexus, and Westlaw.

At a glance, the above provides instant and specific data to a hiring manager.

However, a candidate – especially in the IT field – should go one step further and provide years or months of experience.

A Word About Including Years (or Months) of Experience for Technical Skills

In today’s competitive job market, hiring managers demand that information on resumes be well-prioritized and specific. It’s not enough to state that you have proficiency in Microsoft Word. You must state how many months or years of experience you have or your level of expertise, whether it’s beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Hiring managers will not call you in for an interview, nor will they test your skills unless they are first provided this essential data.

Presenting Technical Skills for IT Professionals

The nature of IT is ever-evolving. Therefore, an IT professional should showcase relevant skills as specifically and completely as possible.

This includes organizing technical data into subheadings, which include:

1. Software
2. Hardware
3. Operating Systems
4. Programming Languages
5. Software Packages
6. Databases
7. Any other technical proficiencies

One way to present this data would be a simple listing. For example:

Computer Skills

- LAN Administration: Windows 2000 Server, Windows NT 3.51/4.0, Novell 3.12/4.1.
- Operating Systems: Windows 2000/NT/XP, Windows 98/95, Macintosh OS.
- Software: Microsoft SQL, SNA, SMS , Site Server & IIS, CA XCOM, SAS, Microsoft Visual Studio, Source Safe, Cognos Enterprise Server, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, AS/400-Windows Connectivity Applications, cc:Mail , Multiple Windows Communications Applications.
- Productivity Software: Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Project.
- Hardware: PCs, Compaq Servers, HP NetServers, IBM NetFinity Servers, AS400 20, SCO Unix OpenServer, Macintosh.

- Certifications: Candidate for MCDBA, Candidate for CCNA/CCDA, Candidate for MCSE, Microsoft Certified System Administrator, Novell Certified Administrator, Novell Certified Engineer.

A more effective way to maximize technical data is to provide specific information in an easy-to-read format. For example:

Technical Skills


Oracle 8/8i/9i, 4 years
SQL Server 6.5/7.0/2000, 6 years
Microsoft Access, 6 years
MySQL, 6 months

Operating Systems:

UNIX , 4 years
LINUX, 4 years
Windows Operating Systems, 12 years
DOS, 12 years
Macintosh, 4 years

Programming Languages:

ShellScript, 3 years
PL/SQL, 4 years
ASP, 5 years
JAVA/JSP, 1 year
JavaScript, 5 years
DHTML, 3 years

Oracle Utilities:

SQL Navigator, 4 years
TOAD, 2 years
Oracle *Net, 4 years
Import/Export, 3 years
SQL *Loader, 3 years
Enterprise Manager, 3 years
Performance Manager, 2 years

The above example has easily obtainable and understood data that is specific and enhances an applicant’s candidacy.

Another way to maximize technical information is to include projects in which expertise was applied. For example, a Senior Infrastructure Consultant had this experience:

Representative Projects:

Multi-protocol LAN. Designed and launched $2 million, multi-protocol, multi-domain LAN for 5000 employees, focusing on speed, fault-tolerance, and redundancy. Implemented array of Cisco 6509 switches, Cisco 3600 and 7000 routers, and Cisco PIX firewalls. Configured WAN protocols (FrameRelay, ISDN), routing and encapsulation protocols (STP, HSRP, EtherChanneling, EIGRP, OSPF, IGRP, BGP), and routed protocols (IP, IPX, Vines, and DLSw).

Upgrade from legacy LAN. Developed and implemented a layer-3 switched LAN to upgrade existing network for 1200 employees, targeting improved performance and security. Installed/configured collapsed backbone, using Cisco 6509 Catalyst core switches and Cisco Catalyst 4006 edge switches (multi-homed to core). Re-designed IP schema to optimize communication and routing. Created per-floor VLANs. Implemented Cisco PIX 520 Firewalls (including fail-over) to segment public, private, and DMZ networks and provide VPN access. Installed/configured Cisco 3600 routers, using FrameRelay (ISDN as backup). Configured WAN protocols (FrameRelay, ISDN), routing protocols (HSRP, EIGRP, OSFP), and routed protocols (IP, IPX, DLSw).

Co-Lo High-Availability. Engineered fully redundant, fault-tolerant, high-availability network. Researched and advised on co location site and T-3-leasing (two T-3 connections from separate ISPs). Installed/configured Cisco 6509 switches to segment VLANs and provide gigabit throughput to dual-homed server farms. Provisioned A/19 address space and AS number. Implemented Cisco 7000 routers, providing full BGP routing tables and peering with ISP routers. Installed Cisco PIX 525 firewalls (load-balanced and fail-over) to control ingress/egress traffic and provide VPN access for technical staff.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Professional Touch - Objectives

by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW

In today’s competitive job market, Objectives have mostly been replaced by the far more effective Tag Line, which is your professional title or goal, and Skill Set, which lists your qualifications to fill the job. Each should provide concise and specific data to the hiring manager in terms that emphasize what you can do for the targeted company.

However, there are times when an Objective should be included in a Summary of Qualifications, or even be showcased in the Tag Line.

When to Include Objective Statements Within a Summary of Qualifications

1. You are transitioning from one career to another and want to make clear to a hiring manager that you are currently seeking a position in the new field. That statement is your objective.

2. You are using the resume to seek admission into a graduate program (i.e. MBA).

3. You have specific needs that you want to address. This would include that you would prefer a telecommuting position or part-time versus full-time employment.

When to Showcase Your Objective in a Tag Line

1. If you are entering a new career field and have an academic, rather than a professional background in that industry. In that case, use of the word “Candidate” before the Professional Title in the Tag Line quickly tells a hiring manager your Objective.

A word about Tag Lines:

By using a professional title at the opening of your resume, you will be stating who you are and what you want in terms of your career.

Tag lines can be:

Specific: Telecommunications CEO
Generic: Accounting Professional
Showcase an Objective: Candidate: MBA Program; Candidate: First Grade Teacher

A word about your Skill Set:

This would include specific qualifications that you have and which are required in the job posting.

An example for an Accountant might include:

Accounts Payable/Receivable ~ Audits ~ General Ledger ~ Reconciliations

An example for a Teacher might include:

Grades K-5 ~ CBEST & MSAT Certified ~ Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential

By including your Skill Set directly beneath your Tag Line at the beginning of your resume, you’ll be providing the hiring manager with invaluable data.

Objective Statements to Avoid

- Ones that demand a certain salary.

- Ones that address your needs – i.e. “Seeking an interesting position in the Accounting field with great growth potential.”

- Vague statements that fail to target specific industries or jobs – i.e. “A full-time position with benefits.”


Question: If I’m applying for a specific position, shouldn’t the hiring manager know that the job opening is my objective? Why do I have to provide anything other than my educational and professional history?

Answer: In the past decade, resumes have evolved from a simple listing of candidate’s expectations and qualifications to savvy marketing pieces that showcase what you can do for the targeted company. If a hiring manager has to guess at what you can do for them or where you might fit into their organization, you won’t be called in for an interview. An additional consideration is that many large companies have numerous openings. If you want to be considered for the one that best fits your background, it’s wise to include who you are (Tag Line) and what you can do (Skill Set), which is far stronger than an ordinary Objective.

Question: Isn’t it redundant to write an Objective that addresses what I can do for a company, when all of that information is already in my Professional Experience?

Answer: Not at all when you consider that a hiring manager might not get that far. Remember, you have less than 10 seconds to capture a hiring manager’s interest. You do this by prioritizing data, and by addressing the needs of the position as they relate to your unique qualifications. A modern resume can be likened to a news story – the hiring manager wants to know who, what, where, when, and why at the outset. Once you secure the reader’s interest, then you provide details in the Career Accomplishments, Professional Experience, and Education sections of the document.

Question: Since I don’t have any experience, as yet, in my chosen career won’t using the word “Candidate” really make this stand out and hurt my chances?

Answer: Although “Candidate” may not be a perfect word when it comes to a job search, it’s far stronger than the use of the term “entry-level” even though it indicates the same thing. One trick to minimize any entry-level thinking on the hiring manager’s part is to include a strong skill set that showcases those skills you do have that will meet the qualifications for the job.

Question: I want to apply for numerous positions that are not at all similar. Do I have to tailor the opening of each resume for these jobs?

Answer: No one ever said getting the job you want would be easy, so the answer is an unequivocal yes. Within each job posting are keywords that should be peppered throughout the opening of your resume. Keywords for an accountant might be AP/AR, audits, reconciliations, etc. By employing these in your Skill Set and Summary of Qualifications paragraph and by using a Tag Line that is similar or identical to the job that’s being posted, you’re showing the hiring manager that you are the ideal candidate for this position.