Results of our resume make-over

Jennifer Hay chose one resume from a TechRepublic member to make over. Here are the results!

Several weeks ago I asked TechRepublic members to send in their resumes for the chance to win a free resume make-over from a professional resume service. I received over a hundred resumes. I am holding on to them all in case we do this exercise again.

I forwarded all the resumes to Jennifer Hay at Information Technology Resume Service , and she chose one. We have changed all the identifying information on the resume for the benefit of the person who submitted it. We will display specific areas that Jennifer addressed and show her analysis and explanations for what was changed. We also have the Before and After versions of the resume available for download.

The first part Jennifer addressed was the resume's Career Summary section, shown in Figure A:

Figure A

Here is what she said:

There were two primary issues with John's resume. His summary was simply a list of his core competencies with absolutely no connection with his personality. His professional experience section listed his main responsibilities and the key tasks that he performed. It was certainly concise and to the point, but it left the reader absolutely no context for understanding his achievements.

It is no longer enough in a competitive job market for a resume to simply list your past responsibilities; it needs to tell the whole story of who you are and what you bring to prospective employers. The whole story does include past responsibilities, but more importantly it describes your personal values, your achievements, your working style, and more.

Summary Hiring managers want to hire strong skill sets, but they also want an individual who will fit within their company's environment. John's summary failed on these points. Through extensive discussions via email and on the phone, I discovered the following:

1)   He enjoys working with upper management and board level personnel. He has a lot of successes in this area, so it was natural that this would become part of his summary statement.

**Effective communicator who uses clear and concise business language to engage senior management.

2)   He has a small shop with limited resources, so he has become an expert in combining internal and external resources to get the most value. This is a great fit in today's economic environment since businesses want to "do more with less."

**Blends in-house talent with outsourced expertise to balance resources, fill skill gaps, and increase organizational competencies.

3)   John sent several job descriptions that interested him. It's important when writing a resume that you understand the language and circumstances that appeal to your client.

**Provides hands-on leadership and direction to ensure technology aligns with corporate strategy and tactics.

I often see summary statements that are generic and not particularly true to the person's personality and accomplishments. This is a lost opportunity.

Figure B shows what the summary section looks like after the changes Jennifer recommended:

Figure B

Next, Jennifer addressed the Professional Experience section. Figure C shows the before version:

Figure C

Jennifer explains her reasoning on this section:

John's work history looked like a job description. He had a lot of accomplishments, but each was so short that the reader couldn't understand the context for each statement. Also, some of his accomplishments were related but spread throughout his resume, so you couldn't understand the connection. Here is an example of what I mean.

  • Implemented Microsoft AX for Retail Software System from Point of Sale to Back Office Accounting.

This was a major achievement for John. I don't typically include so much information about a particular project, but, in this case, it was necessary to see the depth of what he was able to do:

ERP System Implementation-worked hands-on to provide end-to-end infrastructure solution from Point of Sale (POS) to accounting backend. Improved control by centralizing pricing at POS terminals (13 stores), enabling inventory management based on sales trends and enhancing inventory distribution processes.
  • Conducted in-depth assessment and performed due diligence to select consultant for implementation of Dynamics AX for Retail, a business management system within MS network environment.
  • Documented business processes from store operations to accounting and incorporated into system design.
  • Met aggressive project plan (6 months) to support business critical launch of a corporate and franchise system, and to integrate point of sale data with back office financials and operations. Delivered project results below budget, ahead of schedule, and directly aligned with corporate goals.
  • Migrated legacy accounting system in just 4 months, delivering 2 months ahead of "go live" date.
  • Led team to test and configure existing POS till hardware to ensure compatibility with new software.
  • Realized CEO goal despite substantial constraints. Implemented a large, complex system with limited resources and minimal vendor support. Served as beta site for Microsoft's new software acquisition.

I use a storytelling process to gather information about my client's accomplishments. It's more time consuming than many other resume writers' techniques, but I know how well it works. Interviewing and networking is about telling stories. My clients select those projects that do a great job of describing what they do best. They write out all the stories without filtering and then we get on the phone to talk through everything.

Figure D shows the result of the changes to the Professional Experience section:

Figure D

Technical resumes typically include more information because you are trying to blend business value with technical accomplishment. Here is a link that explains my process:


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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