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Writing Your Best Resume or CV
 "By Better Understanding the People Who Will Be Reading Your Resume,
You Can Better Write a Resume that Will Get You the Interview"

First Consider these Ironic Starting Points:

  • Most candidates erroneously believe that if the employers have any questions, they'll call; most employers erroneously believe that if the details concerning a candidate's duties, projects worked on, processes used, staff reports, sales volume, customers/markets served and achievements are not in the resume, the candidate did nothing worth mentioning. They will not call to confirm their belief that you have done nothing of interest to them.
  • If the employers initially think you are wrong for their job, you have probably lost your best chance to compete for that great position you desire. In this negative assumption-filled environment, good candidates often fail to be called to interview for positions that they could fill with great personal success and to the great benefit of their company. And companies go many months "paralyzed" or "unable" to find the right persons for their key positions, losing hundreds of human-hours and thousands or millions of dollars in missed work and business opportunities.
  • ART's intervention in the hiring process helps eliminate certain doubts and accidents that often occur in the employment process, but if a resume is poorly done, it is an uphill battle to convince a careful employer that the person behind that poor resume is a more appropriate candidate than he or she appears to be.
  • Far too many candidates feel that the resume is merely an annoying formality, so little time is often spent to write it as a showcase of their knowledge and achievements.
  • Employers feel that the resume is very critical --especially if several persons are involved in the screening process or if several people have to be convinced to consider spending their time interviewing a vaguely self-described candidate.
  • Ironically, as important as hiring managers view the resume as the most important factor in beginning the hiring process, they often allot 2 minutes or less to judge an entire life of experiences summarized in the form of a resume!

The Good News is that It is in Your Audience's Best Interest to be Convinced that You are Right For the Job

  • Imagine your resume's reader: A busy person who needs someone like you, but because he or she is so busy, this boss waits until Friday at 4 p.m. to wade through that stack of 500 resumes, 450 of which are totally inappropriate for the job. 40 are question marks, "maybes" that almost certainly will never be called precisely because they are "maybes" and not seen as closer fits. 10 are OK, but nobody stands out above the rest. Only 3 will be asked to come in for in-house interviews. You are the best qualified person for this position, but your resume happens to be 499th from the top of the pile. Hungry, wanting to go home, and weary from having to read so many inappropriate resumes, this manager somehow doesn't "read between the lines" of your resume and tags you only as a distant "maybe." Your resume will go into a file cabinet or a hard drive, never to be seen again.
  • Sounds unfair? These are just the realities of career building. Even with "internet job boards" and "keyword search" resume databasing, it all comes down to the quality of the material presented and the attention span, intelligence and flexibility of the human analyzing the data given him or her.
  • ART recognizes that all sorts of unexpected variables creep into hiring processes, but one of the reasons why we have posted this page of resume tips is that we prefer to limit the chaos when our candidates are concerned.
  • We believe our time, our candidates' time and the time of our client-companies is better spent working productively and enjoying life rather than going off on wild goose chases. On a typical search assignment, we may send resumes of only one, two or three highly qualified candidates for our client-company to evaluate. A huge number of search firms place their own "come on" want-ads (ART has never placed want-ads to find its candidates) and then send dozens of resumes --many of them wrong for the job in question-- to their clients. Many of our competitors, retained and contingency search firms alike, regard the hiring process as little more than a lottery in which one "wins" if one has many tickets (resumes).
  • Our client-companies know that ART does a good job of identifying the best fits, but we can best understand your best career options if you give us the right tools to understand your skills, knowledge and achievements. You see, much of the vagaries of the hiring process can be eliminated if you start out with a good, clear resume that tells the reader what you have done and what you are good at doing.

Being Specific is Being Understood

  • Without misrepresenting yourself, write your resume with a thought to the firm's need. Structure your resume to demonstrate to the hiring authorities how your expertise and personality fit their needs. If you really care about your career, do not send out a resume that is a mere recitation of employment dates, company names and job titles. It tells the reader nothing other than that the writer either does not wish to take the time to explain himself, cannot explain himself or has nothing to say about himself. Employers (and recruiters) hate having to guess. Telephone calls following up on a resume or face-to-face interviews are best spent building on the framework of your intriguing resume, not doing the tedious filling in of the blanks.
  • Never assume your reader will automatically know what you do or what you have done or how well you have done it. Duties, projects, products, processes, structures, philosophies, sales volume, customer base, etc. can differ greatly even within groups in the same firm.

Be Proud of Yourself and Do Not Be Afraid to "Brag"

  • Sometimes it is due to cultural reasons or upbringing; sometimes it is a concern that the reader will be bored by reading so many details; and sometimes a person simply is not sure that he or she has anything interesting to say about his or her work experiences past and present. If you typically require others to "discover" your "hidden talents," it is imperative that you break yourself of the habit of being ever humble and all quiet about what an interesting person you are, at least when it comes to writing your resume. Why change? Well, if you are reading this page, there is a reasonable chance that you feel your present company does not recognize your "hidden talents" and because of it you may have been passed over for that key promotion, raise or bonus.
  • For better or worse, many employers today believe that "he that does not ask does not get." Look at it this way: if a hiring manager is considering two candidates with remarkably similar educational backgrounds, job titles, years of experience, etc., but only one candidate thought to say "This new system that our team introduced saved the company $500,000 over two years" and "As a result of this new strategy, our company achieved a rise of 28% in domestic sales to a total of $8 million," which one do you suppose would get the offer? The sad fact might be that you personally saved $5 million over one fiscal year and increased domestic and international sales by 53% to a total of $120 million, but nobody would know it because you didn't tell anybody. Don't miss out on opportunities that should be yours.
  • Stating your achievements is not saying you are better than other people, only that you are proud of what you have done. An employer would like to know this information so that you both together could discuss a better way of doing business.
  • By the way, when we say "brag," we don't of course mean "be obnoxious." Nobody likes reading a resume of a person who describes himself only in clichés. Generic, hollow phrases such as "detail-oriented,"  "self-starter," "team player" or egotistical sounding words and phrases such as "single-handedly," "all by myself," "against all odds," "tirelessly," "world class salesman," "natural leader," "true visionary," and so on do not in themselves tell a reader so much about the circumstances under which the achievement was accomplished as much as the psychological makeup of the writer.
  • Without context, your reader will not give you the benefit of the doubt that you are "a natural leader" (even if you are) or a "tireless" worker (even though you are) unless you show them what you did. Rather than use clichés, which often are used by lesser candidates to make themselves appear important, try to let your actions speak for themselves. Example: A person who supervised three product cycles in a year when previously there had been one a year is assumed to be "tireless" and may be a "natural leader," since such an achievement requires the gathering and harmonizing of many departments and individuals. A great salesman doesn't have to tell us he is great, just the facts: how much sales increased (percent and dollars) or what type of new customer base was opened up. These are the details employers want to know.
  • If you only have a few years in industry and think you have no achievements, you may be surprised to know that even describing what you do and the circumstances of your duties will be of significant interest to employers.
  • Many people mistakenly believe that if they write a resume that is very specific in detail they will rule themselves out of certain hires, so they write resumes that are so vague and generic that they fail to show the reader that they have mastered anything or have anything to show for being a "manager managing staff" or a "project engineer doing projects and interfacing with customers." Tell us rather what kind of manager you are, what kinds of projects you have worked on, what types of customers you have dealt with.
  • In the United States in particular, it is expected that the candidate should describe his or her duties and achievements fully in a U.S. industry-style resume of between roughly one and three pages. The structure and tone of the results-oriented U.S. industry-style resume with one's most recent job listed first (reverse chronological order) are in direct contrast to traditional CV's, and in many cases the submission of a traditional CV for a position with a U.S. firm will yield negative reactions at stateside positions. Internationally, check the requirements at each company, but increasingly, U.S.-style resumes are being seen as belonging to more "dynamic" or "internationally oriented" candidates.
  • Even in their native setting, traditional CV's are nearly impossible for readers to decipher without investing a great deal of wasteful time contacting the recipient's references and carefully examining one's publications. (Reliance on Publication Lists is itself a bad strategy. They only state titles and your name, but they do not tell a reader what your conclusions were to a theory or what role you had in the discovery. Did you do 10% of the work or 90%? Did you work on that project for two weeks ten years ago, while the next publication listed is based on work you have been doing ceaselessly for the last ten years?)
  • The resume we require is an efficient document meant to rapidly tell the reader if you will fit a particular position or not, and if not, to suggest other possibilities to the reader.
  • ART asks that it be submitted industry-style resumes that approximate U.S., Canadian or international executive resume models. While we can certainly consider candidates sending us other resume styles or CV formats, we ask that those documents at a minimum include the specific, detailed content that we will need to evaluate your career, past and present.

Good & Bad Leads: Specific Resumes & Vague Ones

  • One Company wants a specific type. It isn't you, but your vague resume accidentally leads them to believe it is. They call you in for an interview. Bad interview. Bad lead. No offer. Wasted day.
  • One firm wants a specific type, and your specific resume suggests it is you. They ask you in for an interview. Good lead. You receive an offer.
  • One firm wants an unusual, hard to find type. A person with all different kinds of experiences, with maturity. A fast thinker who doesn't even have to be familiar with their product--in fact they are the only company in the world making this state-of-the-art product, so there are no "competitors" where such a person might be found. They are pathbreakers and need another pathbreaker who has what they do not have. A certain kind of experience or knowledge or personality. They see your specific resume. Not exactly right, but nobody is. That's OK. They are intrigued by your career. They ask you in for an interview. You hit it off. You both offer a lot to each other. You could make a real difference here and they will compensate you well for it. A very good lead. You receive an offer.

"Spelling Counts" & Other Protocols

  • Run a "spell check" and/or "grammar check" of your resume. After that is done, rest, and re-read it a day later yourself. Most computers will not register "principle"(principal) engineer or "to" (two) years as errors. If you are uncertain of spelling or usage, use words you are sure of or ask friends to review your resume. While many employers ignore occasional typographical errors as trivial accidents, many employers view such errors in documents as important as resumes as completely inexcusable, as evidence of sloppiness and bad communication skills.
  • Placement. Picture your resume as a "marketing device," not as a summary of the passage of time. You are not obligated to give equal space to each job. You might end up minimizing your valuable experience (and marketability) just so you could fit in some unimportant short lived job. In one extreme case, we once were told by an employer that he received a resume of an executive at a Fortune 500 electronics firm with 20 years' experience who felt it necessary to take up half a page to tell the world that for a few months during summer break from college he worked as a Night Manager at McDonalds. He was viewed as naïve and became known jokingly as "the McDonalds Night Manager" and was not interviewed. It could have been that he either worked off an old resume and left the college job in or he wished to show some early budding managerial ability. The brief McDonalds inclusion was unnecessary, as this man currently supervised 3,000 people at a world-famous electronics firm. The space could have been better used to highlight his current relevant experiences. As for "Education," if you have full degrees relevant to your field, put them at the top, above "Employment Experience." If you have incomplete degrees or degrees in fields not obviously related to your field, put "Education" after "Employment Experience." The theory is that you always play to your strengths. Let the reader see your strengths first.
  • When you dust off the old resume, try not to just add your current job to your old standby. Doing so may create a lopsided end product. In some ways you are a different person with different marketability after each job. Others will not automatically understand how it all fits together. It is up to you to shape their image of you. Show a career progression but do not lose sight of the image you want to project. Aspects of your present or last job may not be as important to your future employer as those of your next-to-last job.
  • Size. There are all kinds of theories going around on this one. One says that you devote one page for every decade of service. The worst one is that "no resume should be over one page--it doesn't get read if it is." Do not worry about fitting your resume into one page if you have good achievements and several jobs to tell an employer about. But try to get it within two pages. Three if there is substantial information. Four starts looking like a book and is almost always too much. Remember, you are writing on a "need to know" basis, not a "need to show" basis. An employer doesn't want to hear every detail about some job you had briefly twenty years ago. It is all interesting to you, but it may cloud up the way you are seen. In many cases, people put in repetitive information about the same job. If you do more or less the same thing as V.P. of Operations as you did as Director of Operations or Manufacturing Manager, don't repeat these details, just write it once under your company data, noting job titles followed by dates you held each respective title.
  • Chronological Resume or Skills Resume? Generally, we at ART prefer to know "when you did something" and "where you did it." Context can be important in understanding a candidate's background, but in certain rare cases a "skills resume" is a better choice. If you have worked at many different companies--particularly as a contract employee--the breaking up of your experience by dates does not help your marketability. It is therefore easier to present yourself as a "unity." Have one section breaking down your abilities weighted according to your strengths and amount of actual experience, then follow with a list of dates and names of employers with a few details (products worked on, your title, etc.). Sometimes skills resumes are useful for people who truly are equally marketable for two different positions, such as QA Manager and Manufacturing Manager.

Summary: What We Like To See:

    1. Your Company Name and Division, Its Sales Volume
    2. The Chief Product(s) You Work With & Their Applications
    3. The Chief Markets or Customers You Serve
    4. Your Dates of Employment (Month/Year preferred)
    5. Your Official Title (and translation if it is not clear or industry standard) If multiple titles at one company, place dates with each title after the title (otherwise the casual reader might think you changed employers more frequently than you did).
    6. Your Duties. Think of answering the questions "who?", "what?", "when?", "where?", and "how?" Try not to describe yourself as "we" (as part of a group) here. Tell us what YOU PERSONALLY do or did. Never take credit for things you did not do, but do take credit for things you did do.  If you were part of a group that performed a particular task and achieved a certain effect, describe your role in the group.
    7. Describe your achievements in tangible terms, usually in dollar values or percentages of increase, decrease or improvement. Be aware that you may be asked to document your achievements.
    8. If you supervise a staff, briefly state how many people report to you and what they do.
    9. Sometimes it is good to state whom you report to. If you report directly to a President or a CEO this could be interesting information for an employer.
    10. Your Education should accurately reflect true degrees earned or in process of being finished. If you state "degree expected 1999" be prepared to explain how it will be granted. Do not mislead about education. Offers have been known to be rescinded upon learning that a candidate has misstated his or her education. Companies are often very interested in candidates wishing to improve themselves through higher education or training. Be proud of your achievements here, but please do not pad.
    11. Be truthful about your experience, your achievements and your career goals. The resume is meant to open doors to a future of your own making. Make sure the person you are describing sounds like you and is the person you want others to see you as. The new job may demand that you be that person they thought they saw in the resume.


Please send a brief cover letter with your resume indicating your current salary, desired salary, desired title, type of firm or industry desired and location desired. Here are some errors frequently found in resumes or cover letters.


RESUME NOT DETAILED ENOUGH If we cannot understand clearly your dates of employment, the firms you have worked at and their locations, the products, processes and markets you are knowledgeable in , and your achievements at each job, you are not giving us the tools we need to make your job search fruitful.

IMPORTANT DETAILS ARE IN COVER LETTER BUT OMITTED FROM RESUME. Too many people leave the most interesting information regarding their achievements to their cover letter but omit them from the resume itself.  Many employers do not read cover letters or the cover letters get separated from the resume.  Cover letters may repeat highlights of a career already mentioned in a resume, but a detailed cover letter should never be considered an addendum to a bare-bones, vague resume.

STRUCTURE/ CONTEXT. It is hard to understand what you did or achieved in the proper context.  Employers may be confused. Try putting your achievements at each position under each employer heading.

STRUCTURE/ DATES Because you have held different titles at the same employer, you are specifying dates for each title and to a stranger reading your resume you may at quick glance appear to be a "job hopper."  Try putting the dates of employment with the company at the left margin, and putting the dates of each assignment/job title after the assignment or job in parenthesis.
1991-Present: XYZ CORP., Location ($500M Manufacturer of Photosensitive Widgets for the industrial  market)
                      Sr. Director of Operations (1995-Present)
                      Manufacturing Manager (1991-1995)

We recommend that candidates prepare for electronic submission to our firm and to employers, resumes in ASCII or plain text (*.txt) format. MS Word doc's can be easily converted to text files via the drop-down box in your "save as" command. If you now have a resume or CV in MS Word, first save it as a text file and see how it looks. If everything is more or less in alignment, legible and makes sense, then your resume format is acceptable for electronic submission to us or others.

If you see problems with your plain text version, you might wish to consider preparing a simpler version WITHOUT using tables, shading or intricate fonts, etc. and then saving it as a plain text file. Alternatively, you could copy and paste from a Microsoft Word document written using the simple formatting we describe below. While we do not require candidates to follow these guidelines, we have found that simple formatting does not create unusual, confusing or unreadable resumes that sometimes are seen when copying and pasting a highly formatted MS Word document or webpage to a plain text format. By the way, generally, you usually should not copy and paste a resume from a webpage. What you see might be very different from what your reader will see.

When you submit your resume or CV to us in our online application, we will receive a plain text version of what you copied and pasted, regardless of the original format. This means that if your original formatting does not conform to plain text rules, what you send might appear incorrectly or be unreadable. Anything other than the most basic formatting, including shading, unusual fonts or bullets or formatting using tables will all be lost. So it is best to keep things simple.

When converting an intricately formatted MS Word.doc into a plain text file, one might end up with phrases misaligned or with computerese in a reader's monitor. Always keep in mind that employers and headhunters are normally only interested in the content of the resume, not in the aesthetics of the layout.  MS Word encourages people to make ordinary typing chores into extravagant artwork exercises that introduce basically extraneous features that cannot always be read properly on every computer in the world. Every computer can read early any plain text file with few or no problems.

As for structure, there are many acceptable formats, but generally, we recommend simple structure, wiith jobs listed in REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Below is a simple resume structure that you might wish to use as a starting point in writing your own resume or CV:, such as:

Your Address
Your Telephone Number(s)
Email Address (Preferably a personal email address that you check daily)

Career Summary:  (describe your career focus, strengths, markets and special attributes in approximately 3-5 sentences)

Employment History:

Starting Date - Present. (Your Current Job) : Company Name, Location, Description
Job title. Duties.
--Achievement one.
--Achievement two.
--Achievement three.

Start Date - End Date - Ending Date (Your Last Job): Company Name, Location, Description
Job title. Duties.
--Achievement one.
--Achievement two.
--Achievement three.

Start Date - End Date (Your Next-to-Last Job): Company Name, Location, Description
Job title. Duties.
--Achievement one.
--Achievement two.
--Achievement three.

List other jobs in Reverse Chronological order, each in same structure as above.

Degree, Field of Study, Year, School, Location
Degree, Field of Study, Year, School, Location

Foreign language skills, or other useful information relevant to an employer


This material is meant solely for the free benefit of individual candidates of Atlantic Research Technologies, L.L.C. Any republication, reproduction, retransmission or commercial use ofthe material on this page without the express written consent of Atlantic Research Technologies, L.L.C. is prohibited. Any violations will be prosecuted in the jurisdiction of the violator, regardless of said violator's location worldwide.


ART Career Guide

Tips on Writing Effective Resumes
A Checklist to test if this is a good time to change jobs
What Employer is Best for You? The type of company you choose to work for is important
Balancing Career and Family: You may have many more options than you believe you have
Relocation Issues: Your career may be hurt by your present location
The puzzle of the Hiring Process is explained
Interviews seem to have "rules" and "no rules" -- at the same time!
The dynamics of negotiating offers
The resignation process should be ruled by your calm, calculating mind, not by your emotions
Your New Job: Always expect the unexpected and make sure you communicate your concerns


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