The last post discussed how to craft your résumé if you’re a recent graduate. Now let’s talk about how to create a résumé when you have lots of work experience.
My same advice about the Objective section given in the last post holds true here. Only do it if you’re giving your résumé to a company, friend, or recruiter. Don’t do it if you’re applying for a specific job.
When you have years of relevant work experience, you want to lead with your Professional Experience section. Start with your current (or most recent) job and move backwards. Because you’ve been in your field a while, this should be your biggest section (at least half the page, if you’re doing a one-pager). Don’t repeat job duties in multiple jobs unless they’re really important. Try to highlight something different (but still relevant) from each one.
Next, move on to your Skills section. This should be your next largest section. List only what is relevant. And don’t list anything that literally every single person in your field should know, such as “Proficient in word processing programs” when you’re an administrative assistant. Every administrative assistant has to know how to use word processing programs. Your list of job duties should make it clear that you know how to use things like Word. So just skip it in the Skills section. (Again, this applies to people who have tons of stuff to fit on their résumé —if you’re just starting out, this like this can be a great way to get rid of some of the dreaded white space).
If certifications or publications are important in your field (such as certifications in IT or publications in academia), and you have more than one, put this section next. Just bullet point them, no expounding—you won’t have room. If they really are relevant to your field, the hiring committee will know what you’re talking about. If these things are completely irrelevant to your field, or you don’t have any, skip this section.
Last, list your education. By the time you’ve been in your field five to ten years, your education is much less important than your work experience. If you graduated with honors or a high GPA or class rank, you can add that at the end of the other information. Never list your high school, unless it’s the highest degree you’ve earned.
All the stylistic things mentioned in the last post apply here too. As for length, you have the tiniest bit more leeway when you have a lot of experience than when you have very little. But use this leeway judiciously. Don’t go over a page unless every single piece of information is important and relevant to your intended audience (tailor, tailor, tailor!) and make sure your page break is always on a section. Never break a section across pages! And never let only one or two lines run over onto the second page. Either fit it all on one page, or fill up at least a quarter of a page on the second.
Whenever you’re crafting a résumé, whether you have zero years of experience or fifty, always remember for whom you’re creating it. You’re not writing it for your benefit, but rather for the benefit of the hiring committee. Make sure everything you write on that résumé is added with this philosophy in mind.
The last post in this series will cover more of the nuts at bolts of résumé writing, including various ideas about length and style.