Many people write resumes as if they are talking to the experts in their particular field. They use jargon, buzz words, technical terms, shorthand, and formats that are usually easily understood by their colleagues, yet almost incomprehensible to the average person.

For example, an architect created a resume that looked elegant and toed the line of how architects present their body of work to each other. I looked at it and I had no idea what she did. First of all, she called herself a designer. Wait – I thought you were an architect.  Second, she simply said she designed buildings. Wait – did you only design them or did you also see them through to completion?

Any architect/designer would have known that there is a HUGE back story to those phrases and words. And I know a fair amount about many fields, so I could extrapolate and figure it out.


why should I have to extrapolate? And more important, why should HR have to make guesses as to what she did?

I put myself in the shoes of HR all the time.

  • My first assumption is that someone who is in HR knows a lot about human resources issues, and something about the industry in which they work.
  • My second assumption is that all recruiters and HR people are overwhelmed by resumes when they have an opening. They prefer a format that’s familiar so they quickly review and categorize the resume as “must interview” or not.
  • And my third assumption is that people in HR are like all people – they love a good story, simply and directly told.

Taking those assumptions together, my goal was to help this architect create a resume that clearly and simply told the story of her work – what kind of buildings she loved designing, how she managed those projects from beginning to end, the way she worked with other people, and how successful she was in meeting the client’s goals.

I asked many questions, to get to the heart of her accomplishments, skills, talents, satisfactions and personality.  Then I captured that Core Value Proposition in a resume formatted in the simplest way so it was visually easy to navigate.

I recommend a format that is mostly chronological, where

  • Your name is centered at the top with your contact info underneath and to either side of the page, so white space surrounds your name and makes it immediately noticed
  • You have a profile that captures your Core Value Proposition – skills, abilities, range of experience, dollop of personality
  • There is a section under ‘Profile’ called Core Capabilities, that contains all the things you do and know really well; this is the key word section
  • Your work experience is listed chronologically with the most recent first
  • Employment dates are put to the right of the page, employers and positions to the left
  • Each job has a short paragraph describing the scope and reach of your position
  • Bullets are used underneath that paragraph ONLY to list measurable and/or directional accomplishments (e.g. percents, dollars, increased, decreased).
  • Education comes last, and it includes college, graduate, and continuing education (formal education first, most recent on top; continuing education underneath)
  • Other sections come after education and can include Publications, Affiliations, Public Appearances, Honors & Awards, and Media Relations.

This kind of resume has no lines on it, so you look like you are a whole person, not separate from your abilities and experience.

Because the format is so simple, it is easier for people to focus on the content. And the content is what should intrigue people. I’d rather have someone question HOW I did something, than have them wonder why I used that weird format, or have them search for dates.