These Tried-And-True Rules For The Resume Are Here To Stay


The resume has evolved greatly since the first one was written by Leonardo De Vinci in 1482. According to Business Insider, past resumes were written on scraps of paper and included information like height, weight and age; for some professionals today, they exist in video or infographic format.

In years to come, the resume will undoubtedly continue to undergo more changes. The following tried-and-true resume guidelines, however, are here to stay:

  • Be honest. My job is to make sure candidates have done the things they say they have, and determine if they have the skills and competencies to do meet the challenges of the senior level positions that we fill.   It’s been shocking over time to see how many people lie about things like degrees on their resume. Always, always, always tell the truth on your resume. Between the information that is publicly available, the information that is available to us for a small fee, and the information we will obtain from your references, the odds of untruths being exposed is extremely high.
  • Highlight skills and competencies. Your experience (i.e. your previous responsibilities) isn’t nearly as important as your skills and your competencies, so highlight these. A resume serves to outline the experience for the most part. The trick, though, is demonstrating through repetition that you have meaningful “spikes” in your experience. Don’t just let the resume speak to timeline; show a common theme throughout the resume to prove your skills.
  • Metrics, metrics, and more metrics.  The most effective way to highlight your skills is to demonstrate them via statistics.  Stick to the numbers:  things like revenue increases, customer count increases, dollars saved, market penetration statistics, speedy time to market stats, low team turnover rates, etc. are the best way to demonstrate your accomplishments and skills.  If you cannot put a number behind it, you should think twice about putting it in your resume at all.
  • Prioritize confidentiality. On the flip side honesty, you need to maintain confidentiality. For example, in services businesses, be careful about listing the names of particular clients on the resume. This is not necessarily because the former employer will mind, but because the client may mind. Instead, give information about accomplishments without breaking any confidentiality rules. For example, list a client as “Fortune 50 consumer products firm” instead of the name of the client to illustrate the scale and size of the relationship without actually divulging who it was with.  You will have plenty of time to leverage the brand affiliation during the interview process.

For more on this subject, be sure to check out the post “Tips For Updating Your Resume” from Partner Collin L. Sprau.