I received this e-mail from a woman who is revising her resume. I’d sent her some suggestions, including putting a list of CORE CAPABILITIES under her PROFILE. In response, she said “I have included below the top section of a friend’s resume. Let me know what you think. I am thinking that it may be distracting to have a multitude of expertise items.”

My first response was “I don’t like it.” Keep reading to find out why.


● Global Assignments ● Project Management ● Strategy Development


Creative and progressive executive with globally-focused expertise acquired in world-class professional services organization. Broad general management experience with proven track record for coordinating high-level operational, strategic, and administrative assignments. Has reported directly to the Global CEO, operating at the most senior levels of organizations interacting with key decision makers and successfully liaising with matrixed teams.

Well developed project management experience, strong analytical skills, and creative problem-solving capabilities, with reputation for getting things done. Superior communicator with excellent interpersonal skills, a team player, high personal integrity, and a solid record for handling complex cultural issues with diplomacy. Legal and business degrees, fluent in English & French with work experience in Canada, France and the US. Selected accomplishments:

  • Co-founder of two major global industry practices
  • Key player of Global Benchmark Survey that included and assisted 1000 manufacturers in 25+ countries
  • Impacting over 100 countries, identified and promoted 130+ recommendations to achieve cross-border operational and logistical improvements
  • Developed 3-year business planning process for the North American Region (12 countries)
  • Lead person in development and roll-out of 3-year global strategy for world-wide organization

Here is my response:

Re your friend’s resume, it’s a very corporate style that I don’t see very often in the non-profit field. It could be appealing to people who have a very corporate background or who are looking for a corporate type person.

In the CORE CAPABILITIES section, I think that three columns with no more than 3 items is the maximum people can handle reading. Make your own list and then ask two or three trusted people to tell you the skills that jump out at them from your resume. You can then choose what skills you want to highlight. They should be skills you love using and want to use again, and that support your achieving your intention for work.

Many of the points made in your friend’s upfront summary can and should be made in a cover letter. I guess my bias is to letting the reader get to the meat of the resume very quickly, which is where you worked in what capacity and for how long. Too long a summary can be frustrating.

Because of this, I don’t usually like a core capabilities list. It works really well in some industries, such as IT, because they are looking for such a list of buzz words and care less about where/how long you worked. Most recruiters, however, are looking for substance pretty quickly. They’d rather see an accomplishment in the context of a specific position.

Finally, we can and have and will continue to improve your resume. However, I’m not entirely sure fixing the resume is the entire answer. More important is you becoming more specific about the kind of work you want to do and in what context. Your resume can then be tailored to help you get that kind of work.