Updated: July 21, 2015 - Writing a resume is a daunting task for any job seeker and many are left scratching their heads when it comes time to summarize years of accomplishments in a one- or two-page document. That's where CIO.com's resume makeovers come in. In the examples below, you'll see how resume experts help job seekers take their resumes to the next level. Whether you're going for a more senior role, changing careers or just want to keep your resume up to date, you'll find it easier with these helpful tips and free resume samples.
Ross Macpherson, president of Career Quest and expert in advanced career strategies helped this makeover recipient take his resume from mid-level to the executive level. This senior IT executive in Bangkok was ready for a new challenge and a step up in his career, but he found it difficult to land an interview for senior positions in an economic downturn. With a 15 year career behind him, his resume topped off at four pages long and he felt it focused too much on mid-level positions.
In order to make him an appealing candidate for more senior positions, Macpherson focused on making this IT executive's resume reflect his level of expertise in the industry. His first step was a strong proofread to eliminate any grammatical errors. Next, he approached the length of the resume, and took it from "data dump" to "marketing tool." By thinking of the resume as a personal branding tool, Macpherson was able to bring more personality to the resume and highlight this IT executive's attractive qualities as a candidate. In the end, this resume makeover recipient felt confident about his simplified resume that highlighted his successful career.
As a high-level information security professional in the U.S. Army, this Lieutenant Colonel reservist wanted to start a career as an information security executive. After applying to a number of management-level information security jobs, he wasn't getting the responses he hoped, and he felt his resume was to blame.
Donald Burns, executive career coach and award-winning resume writer, was tasked with simplifying and reorganizing his seven=page resume. One of the biggest challenges Burns faced was finding an efficient way to blend a military background with a civilian background. Regular deployments made the resume appear disjointed, and when organized chronologically, it showed this information security professional's military life interfered with his civilian work. Although it is illegal to discriminate against an employee for serving in the armed services, he worried people wouldn't want to hire him if they thought he could deploy at any moment.
Burns set out to tackle three major aspects of this Lieutenant Colonel's resume, which included the overall format, focusing on career achievements and eliminating the first person tense. After tightening the length, reorganizing the career history and highlighting his accomplishments, Burns was able to position the Lieutenant Colonel's military career as an asset to his civilian career. The resume makeover recipient was pleased to see his new concise resume that properly highlighted his impressive career history.
Plenty of IT managers and IT directors see the position of CIO as the next logical step in their career. But this IT manager interested in a CIO role had a hard time convincing employers he was qualified for the job. After applying for over 50 IT director and CIO/CTO-level positions over the course of a year, he decided his resume might be too technical and that it didn't highlight his management skills.
Wendy S. Enelow, certified executive resume writer and co-author of Expert Resumes for Computer and Web Jobs took on the task of reworking this IT manager's resume to reflect his CIO potential. Enelow found that upon reading this makeover recipient's resume, she didn't know much about him or his career. After speaking with the recipient, Enelow focused on rewriting his executive summary to better reflect his overall career, strengths and leadership skills.
Next, she reworked his career history by excluding any irrelevant information and including only the most important details. By focusing on the IT manager's leadership experience, Enelow was able to demonstrate his budgeting, staffing, designing and development skills in an IT organization. Enelow viewed it as unveiling a career story that clearly and concisely depicted how this IT manager would thrive as a CIO. The final product demonstrated both the strong technical qualifications of the resume makeover recipient, but also his managerial background to present him as a future CIO.
When an award-winning IT professional who has worked for Fortune 500 companies and was recruited into a government IT role wanted to move on to a more challenging role, he turned to Donald Burns to help update his resume. The first thing Burns noticed was that this IT pro's resume looked like something he wrote years ago and kept updating with new roles. Burns set out to unveil the career story while presenting his accomplishments and expertise in a way that would catch the eye of a hiring manager. He focused on making sure this tech veteran's resume could be quickly scanned in as little as 10 seconds by highlighting the most impressive aspects of Stern's career. In order to sell hiring managers on our candidate's background, Burns notes that it was important to focus on creating a compelling document that truly encompassed Stern as a strong candidate. When Burns was finished, our resume makeover recipient was left with a concise document that focused on his biggest accomplishments and sold him as a potential candidate in as little as five seconds.
Even if you are happy with your current role, it's still smart to keep your resume up to date because you never know what opportunities lie around the corner. That was the case for this resume makeover recipient who didn't want to get too complacent in his current role. Feedback on his resume in the past let him know that his resume wasn't a great representation of all his hard work, so Caitlin Sampson, career coach, resume writer and co-founder of Regal Resume, helped tackle issues with this IT pro's resume.
What made this resume makeover different from others is that Sampson was aware this recipient wasn't interested in changing jobs just yet. So instead of crafting his resume to reflect the roles he wanted, she worked on fine tuning a more general resume that represented his current role. She focused on creating a clear message, including appropriate keywords for applicant tracking systems and listing out measurable successes. The resume makeover recipient had downloaded his LinkedIn page to create his resume, so Sampson had to really think about the differences between a LinkedIn profile and a traditional resume. She determined a LinkedIn profile was more about networking, exposure, branding and marketing, but that ultimately, your resume and LinkedIn profile should complement each other. By the time Sampson was done with this resume makeover, she created a strong resume that accurately depicted the makeover recipient's accomplishments, and that stood out from his LinkedIn profile.
It can be daunting to craft a resume that lists years -- maybe even decades -- of career accomplishments, all while keeping the document succinct. In the case of this resume makeover, Van Vreede helped a senior technical writer establish his audience, focus his overall message, and ultimately shorten his resume from five pages to two.
Vreede felt the biggest resume issues this job seeker needed to work on were brevity, focus and flow. The first step was to determine the resume makeover recipient’s target audience, which included directors and vice presidents.
Next, Vreede wanted to ensure the resume stayed on message by eliminating extraneous details and highlighting the most important aspects of the makeover recipient’s career. Finally, Vreede consolidated the recipient’s freelance and contracting experience under his personal business. In the end, the resume makeover recipient was surprised to see how fast Vreede was able to trim the fat to create a lean, concise, and impressive resume.
Crafting a solid resume that highlights your accomplishments might feel like bragging, but your resume isn’t the place to be humble. At least, that’s the approach that career expert Donald Burns took when he helped Gayle Lewis take her resume from eight pages of disorganized text to a concise three-page summary highlighting her career, skills, and accomplishments.
You might scratch your head at the idea of an eight-page resume, but it’s pretty common in countries such as Australia – where Lewis hails from – to see upwards of 20 pages for a resume. To go from eight to three pages, Burns first emphasized the importance of a one page bio and introduction that could be used for networking.
Next, he moved onto clarifying Lewis’ impressive career history and making sure her accomplishments stood out. Finally, Burns focused on highlighting strengths that would appeal directly to recruiters and hiring managers, which included “cleaning up messes other people made.” In the end, Lewis was left with a powerful three-page resume that was concise, organized, and demonstrated her proven success.
The first rule of resume writing is to keep it short, so when Rob Sorensen reached out for a resume makeover, career consultant Caitlin Sampson’s first goal was to tackle the length of his resume. While Sorenson included an impressive list of his accomplishments, Sampson felt his resume lacked focus and flow.
Sampson first discarded any extraneous details that didn’t emphasize Sorensen’s experience as an IT manager and director. She also focused on including Sorensen’s managerial experience in IT within the first third of the resume, which is where most hiring managers and recruiters look first. In the end, Sorensen’s resume demonstrated his most impressive accomplishments, skills, and relevant experience at the top of his resume to catch the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers.
After years of working in a corporate environment, this ex-CIO ventured into consulting, and after four years he decided to get back into IT management within the corporate world. However, when he reentered the job market, recruiters and hiring managers saw his four years of consulting as a four year unemployment gap on his resume.
Even with the well-rounded experience this resume makeover recipient gained in those four years of consulting, he wasn’t getting the responses he’d hoped for from recruiters and hiring managers. Executive career coach and resume writer, Donald Burns, felt that while his resume was okay, “it wasn’t competitive.”
Burns’ first approach was to solidify the ex-CIO’s consulting experience as a career on par with his past executive experience. Burns reworked his resume to demonstrate how his four years as a consultant would make him a well-rounded IT manager, since he gained experience outside of his role as a CIO.
Henry Cole had spent nearly a year-and-a-half searching for the right executive position to move his IT career forward, but he had to keep it quiet because his company did not take kindly to people leaving. He also felt his resume was hindering his job search, which even he admitted wasn’t an “attention-getter.”
After months of radio silence from potential employers, Cole looked to Ross Macpherson, a certified professional resume writer, to help him recraft his resume as an IT manager. Macpherson identified three major issues with Cole’s resume. First, it didn’t make an impression on the reader, good or bad. Second, it didn’t emphasize Cole’s executive potential, which led Macpherson to rework the language to reflect an executive-level employee. Finally, he eliminated a number of unnecessary details to deliver a short and “easily digestible” final product.
In this resume makeover, the recipient felt he was ready for a C-level position in IT, but didn’t feel that his resume reflected his potential for such a role. Albeit his networking efforts, numerous applications, and phone interviews, he hadn’t been able to land an offer. Cheryl Simpson, president of Executive Resume Rescue, was tasked with reformatting what she described as a “fractured resume.”
Simpson tackled the most important element of his resume first by creating a strong introduction and summary at the top of the first page with relevant keywords and core competencies. She described it as creating a brand for yourself, and delivering all the most pertinent and relevant information in the first one third of the resume.
Next, she restricted the recipient’s most recent role, since that is the role most hiring managers will be most interested in. Finally, she emphasized the recipient’s experience, because she felt he was selling himself short. By introducing the applicant at the beginning of the resume, strengthening and defining his most recent role, and emphasizing his accomplishments, Macpherson helped this makeover recipient craft, in his words, a “wonderful and concise” resume.