What were the origins of this thing called a “resume” or a “CV”?

“Curriculum Vitae” is Latin for “course of one’s life”. Since the earliest of times it has been used as an introduction and as the beginning to a conversation. For instance, in feudal England a man who was about to travel to another part of the Kingdom was given a letter of introduction from a Lord or the head of the local guild. That letter evolved into the CV and the current resume.

The resume has become even more important in recent times because rather than being carried with you during travel, it is often your only representative and must stand alone at first.

Yet, as important as the resume is, few people have mastered the art of preparing a really great one!

Let us tell you what this search firm would like to see (or not!).

Your resume should be as long as it needs to be to accurately present what you have accomplished in your career.

Your resume should be chronological as opposed to functional or “blended”. It should begin with your current or most recent position, with detail, and then move on to your previous position, with detail, and so on. It should not be a description of your combined experiences from various positions by function followed by a mere listing of titles, companies and dates. Your recruiter is left to wonder what experience came from where—and how recently it was acquired.

There should be no gaps in the chronology of your resume unless they can be explained with good reasons (e.g., maternity leave, return to full-time college work, etc.). And using months and years (e.g., 1/97-6/99; 7/99-present) is very helpful.

Within each position, describe your duties and responsibilities as well as your accomplishments. Say not only that you achieved an increase in revenue, or a reduction in expenses, or an increase in retention rate, but also quantify it and give a brief explanation of how you did it.

Resumes should be results oriented. The fact that you are a V.P. of Marketing and one of your duties is new product development can spark mild interest. The fact that you are a V.P. of Marketing that drove the introduction of 6 new products during the past year that resulted in a net bottom line increase in profit of $15 million makes people sit up and take notice.

Include awards and recognition achieved.

Do not use abbreviations and acronyms unless they are widely used and understood in your industry. If you are trying to change industries, don’t assume those same terms will apply. Remember that certain companies or industries have acronyms that would never be understood outside that arena. Depending on the industry or field you’re in CT can mean Communications Technology, a medical scanning device, or the State of Connecticut (and probably 5 additional things)! Don’t assume someone knows your particular terminology.

Today more and more recruiting firms and corporations use some kind of resume management program to catalog the large number of resumes they receive. Resumes are generally scanned in and are retrieved by keying in certain “key words” that should appear in the resume of a desired candidate.

For instance, if we were looking for a Director of Marketing, we would key in, “marketing, advertising, promotion, product development, competitive analysis” etc. Any resumes with those words in them will be identified for review.

It is not a bad idea to include an opening paragraph in the resume that lists proficiencies. For example, “A seasoned and experienced marketing professional in the areas of advertising, promotion, product development, competitive analysis” etc.

In addition, DO NOT use fancy type styles since they may not scan in properly.

If you have degrees, list them. With each one include the degree, the college/university from which it was obtained and your major. If you have coursework only, say that. If it is still in progress, or you have a projected graduation date, say that. Don’t ever make it look like you have a degree when you have not yet graduated or you only have taken courses toward that degree.

High School graduation information should be eliminated.

“Outside Interests” can be included or not. Including them will give the reader some sense of you outside of work, what your passions may be—sports, volunteerism, other hobbies and pastimes. If you are an officer in an organization, it can show leadership and organizational qualities.

Make sure you are clear on the resume/cover letter heading as to where you can be contacted. If you do not want to be called at work, don’t include your work number. You should always include a telephone number for contact. E-mail address should be included if you have one.

Write your resume yourself. If you need assistance with style, get it but try to write it yourself so you know what is in it. Few things make you look less astute than being asked about something in your resume and you have no idea it is there, or worse, you don’t know what it means!

Myths about resumes:
Myth: A resume must be one page, or two at the most.

Reality: If you are “blanketing” search firms and companies with your resume, you may want to keep it brief to encourage reading since it was unsolicited.

However, if you are submitting your resume for a particular position it should be as long as it needs to be to accurately present your achievements. If a recruiter has networked to you and is requesting your resume for a particular position, he/she wants to know as much detail as possible (within reason). Make sure you completely list the jobs you’ve held, the responsibilities and your accomplishments. If it takes three pages, that is not a problem.

Myth: You should only include your most recent positions, or most applicable ones, if you have had a career change or an unusual career path.

Reality: You should include all your experience and try to look for pieces in seemingly unrelated positions that do actually apply in some way.

Myth: You should only put your most recent positions, or omit timeframes, if you are a more experienced candidate.

Reality: Never omit positions or timeframes. If your resume is extremely lengthy and the earlier positions go back over 20 years, just list the companies, dates and titles on the earliest ones. If the recruiter needs additional information he/she will ask for it.

Myth: You should include either actual references or the line “References will be provided upon request” in the resume.

Reality: Neither is necessary. When you are just submitting your resume, it would be very premature to submit references at that time. And your recruiter or prospective employer assumes that you will be able to provide references when they are requested.

Myth: A photo of myself at the top of the resume would be a nice touch.

Reality: NEVER

Cover Letters:
Do you need a cover letter? YES!!

Your resume was probably developed to fit as many opportunities as possible. Your cover letter should be developed to address the specific needs of a position, if you are applying for a particular job. If not, it is still a courtesy. If you have taken the time to tailor your cover letter, it will make the recruiter want to read your resume even more.
And it is the mark of a true professional.

Thank you notes:
Should I send a thank you note after interviewing with a recruiter?

A thank you note to anyone who interviews you is always a good idea. A thank you note confirms what a good cover letter and resume have indicated. A good recruiter will do an in-depth interview. In the case of Heritage Recruiting Group, you will probably have two in-depth interviews by different people. That could be as much as four hours of our time and yours. A thank you note allows you to put your name in front of the recruiter again, it provides you another opportunity to drive home a particular point you wish to emphasize and it provides another opportunity for you to express your interest in the position. Plus, it makes you look professional and thorough.