by Sharon Florentine

Resume Makeover: How to Keep It Short, Sweet and to the Point

Nov 20, 20135 mins
IT Jobs

After 12 years in IT, this month's Resume Makeover candidate has accumulated a wealth of experience, but his highlights and successes were hidden in a dense six-page resume -- until our resume writer and career consultant stepped in to clear a new path to success.

Rob Sorenson (not his real name) boasts a rich, 12-year career in IT and brings a wealth of experience, technical skills and high-level accomplishments – six pages worth, to be precise. While it’s obvious Sorenson has a successful past, it is unclear what direction his career will take based on his resume.

Candidate Meets Resume Writer

Resume writer and career consultant Caitlin Sampson could see immediately that Sorenson had a depth and breadth of both corporate and client consulting experience. However, she could also see that she needed to help him focus his resume on the highlights and most important elements of his career and his plan for future success, rather than the minute details of his past pursuits.

“Rob’s resume displayed a great deal of experience, his extensive technical skills and his numerous accomplishments,” Sampson says. “It was apparent his career up to this point had been successful, but it was unclear what his next step would be,” she says.

Based on an initial, hour-long consultation, Sampson determined that Sorenson’s ultimate goal was to move from an IT consulting role into a managerial or director-level role.

“I initially reached out to Rob to gain an understanding of his career direction,” Sampson says. “During the consultation, we discussed his career goals, expectations, experiences, accomplishments and core competencies, and we addressed some of the problems with his resume,” she says.

[View Original Resume]

The major sticking point was the length of Sorenson’s resume, Sampson says. Though he had a lot of value-added content, the length was distracting, and could be problematic for anyone reviewing it, she says.

“Because hiring managers and recruiters are inundated with resumes, they tend to lose focus after one to two pages for entry-level candidates or management applicants and three pages for senior or executive-level applicants,” she says. Sampson’s first task was to edit Sorenson’s resume down to a manageable length.

Cutting It Down to Size

A significant portion of Sorenson’s resume outlined his extensive consulting experience, but it wasn’t necessary to outline every client engagement, Sampson says.

In order to make things more concise, Sampson says, she summarized each consulting engagement to make sure the focus was on Sorenson’s senior project management experience instead.

By eliminating much of the unnecessary details of each consulting assignment, Sampson and Sorenson were able to clarify and accentuate Sorenson’s successes and focus his resume on the next step in his career, she says.

“We redirected the focus of his resume from technical consulting to that of an IT manager or director role,” Sampson says. “He has a wealth of relevant managerial experience, but it was difficult for potential employers to find, because it was buried beneath the technical consulting language.”

Sampson adds that this is a common problem job seekers face when putting together their resume, but it’s crucial to making sure hiring managers and recruiters can quickly assess a candidate’s value, especially in an overcrowded job market in which they’re flooded with resumes, she says.

“The top one-third of the page is where the reader will typically focus their attention, so this section must provide a short and impactful overview of the individual’s character and skills that entices the reader to continue,” she says.

The key is to focus the content so that the resume offers a powerful snapshot of the value that their experience can add to the team, culture, and organization, Sampson says.

In addition, there also must be continuity and a logical progression throughout the entire resume to ensure that the reader has an understanding of the types of opportunities the individual can fulfill.

Once the excess information was cut from Sorenson’s resume, the rest of the process was smooth and went quickly, Sampson says. A second consultation was scheduled to review the first draft of the new-and-improved resume and to refine it to accurately reflect his career goals, Sampson says.

The Final Product

“With his thorough responses and distinct goals, we were able to create content that reflected his career ‘story’ and direct the content of his resume towards the next step in his career,” Sampson says.

[View Resume Makeover]

Sorenson was ecstatic at the results, and says he is looking forward to continuing the search for a new, IT managerial or director role with a fresh perspective, he says.

“I am very impressed with the final product,” he says. “I didn’t realize how much of a difference it would make to cut down the length; I knew I’d been rambling on and that there was a lot of information in my resume, but I wasn’t sure how to change that and still demonstrate my skills and expertise,” Sorenson says.

Sorenson has shared his updated resume with both his mentor and his professional network, and has received rave reviews, Sampson says.

“I think the most impressive aspect of the client-discovery process for him was how we went from six pages to two pages, while still demonstrating his extensive IT managerial background and technical skill sets,” sh Sampson e says. “History is a map, and redefining and summarizing his career progression charted a much clearer path towards his personal greatness,” she says.

Sharon Florentine covers IT careers and data center topics for Follow Sharon on Twitter @MyShar0na. Email her at Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook.