TAO Self-help

Title:Job Resume Format

Author:Reprinted with permission - HRNasty.com

Date:October 2014


How you format your job resume is the most critical step when it comes to your job search. Yes, how you dress in job interview matters, as does how you answer job interview questions. But for most of us, the job search starts mentally and emotionally with the creation of our resume, and it is our foundation. How we format our resume will absolutely determine whether our document will generate a call back or be sent to the round file for recycle so unfortunately, for many of us, this is also where the job search ends. In today's post we explain how candidates with a few years of experience should be thinking about their formatting their job resume. If you have applied to jobs with your resume multiple times and not heard back from the hiring company, todays post is probably the root cause of the silence.

I see two very common job resume formats that will consistently disqualify a candidate. If your resume has either of these to formats, I would recommend making an adjustment. The two most common job resume format mistakes I see are,

Listing the same or similar accomplishment(s) more than once under different companies and different positions.

Listing an equal number of accomplishments for the most recent experience, as we listed in a position that was held 10 - 15 years ago. If you have 7 bullet points under your most recent experience, we don't want to have 7 bullets points listed under the experience from 15 years ago.


The most common resume mistake I see when it comes to job resume format, is the listing of the same or similar accomplishment more than once. Candidate lists accomplishment "X" from a position early in their career and then lists a very similar accomplishment, under experience later in the career. The repeat of the accomplishment is a waste of resume space.

HRNasty mandatory dating analogy.

Girl is hanging out with Boy for such a period of time that she is longing to hear the three magical words. Girls know what I mean and guys are wondering "WTF words is he talking about now?" Then one day, on a romantic picnic with birds chirping and a double rainbow, she hears the three words. Boy in a moment of weakness whispers, "I love you". And then she hears the same three words again, and again and again things start to go down hill.

Boy: "I love you".
Girl is thinking: "Finally, he said it, he committed".

Boy: "I love you".
Girl is thinking: "Ohhh, he really does love me". "I love you too".

Boy: "I really love you".
Girl is thinking: "Yeah, I get it, I heard you".

Boy: "You are amazing, I love you".
Girl is thinking: "You are creeping me out and ruining the moment".

Boy says: "I lov. . . .".
Girl: pushes boy away before he can finish and runs off sobbing before he can finish his sentence.

If you list an accomplishment on your resume over and over, instead of pushing your resume aside and running away, recruiters just push your resume aside.

Regular readers will recognize the HRNasty mentality, but we want to use our valuable resume real estate resume efficiently. Listing the same accomplishment over and over is a waste of space that could otherwise be used to list accomplishments that will get us an offer letter.

If we do list an accomplishment more than once, a good practice is to list your accomplishment with different context and to give it a different look. Is it plagiarism when you copy your own work and list it on the same document?


Which leads me to the second commonly made mistake I see on a resume. Listing "X" number of accomplishments in our most recent experience and listing the same number of accomplishment under the experience that is 10 years old. This job resume format is overwhelming and leaves the reader with the wrong impression.

Over the course of a 10 to 15 year career, we have worked with a number of different companies, held a number of different positions and multiple titles. We show career progression by listing our job history in chronological order. Our most recent experience is listed the top and our oldest experience is listed at the bottom.

Although what we were doing professionally 10 years ago may be relevant to what we want to do today, these 10 year old accomplishment don't tie in directly to the position of interest. Over the course of the past 10 years, our skill sets have advanced. Hopefully, what we are interested in doing today takes more skill, more scale, or more drive than what we were doing 10 years ago. The requirements for the job we are applying for today should be more sophisticated than the positions we were applying to 10 years ago. The accomplishment from yesteryear just won't prove you are qualified to do a job requiring your 10 plus years of experience.

When listing a position we held 10 years ago, in most cases, that experience should have fewer accomplishments than our most recent experience. Lets say that over the course of our 15-year career, we held 4 different positions. Our first job was in our industry of interest but probably entry level. Although related, these accomplishments our junior to our current skill set and should be removed.

One way to create the illusion and reinforce career progression is by listing more accomplishments with our most recent experience (the experience we will be hired for) and listing fewer accomplishments with our older experience. This older experience shows you have been in the discipline for a number of years, but the accomplishments are probably junior to the current skill set and outdated. Below is an example of how to give the illusion of job progression. Notice how our list of accomplishments increases over time, giving the illusion that we are doing more now than we were in the past. It isn't that we accomplished less, we just didn't accomplish as much that is directly related to the current job of interest. With this format, we are providing the subconscious example that we have taken on more and more responsibility over time and our career has progressed. With this format, we are efficiently using the space available to deliver more information that is directly related to the job of interest.

Below is the resume of a candidate that is applying for a position of Chief Editor at a large book publisher. Notice the resume format used:

Acme Publishing | 2011 - present

Acme Publishing is a Fortune 500 online publisher of books, magazines and niche online eBooks.

Chief Editor
  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3
  • Accomplishment 4
  • Accomplishment 5
  • Accomplishment 6
F.W.E Editing Service | 2007 - 2009

FWE Editing is a boutique editing service specializing in publishers in Food, Wine, and the Entertainment industry. Notable clients include celebrity chefs and Zagat reviewed restaurants.

Assistant to Chief Editor
  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3
  • Accomplishment 4
TheBestReceipies.com | 2004 - 2007

TheBestReceipies.com in an online recipe site for foodies to exchange recipes with a readership of 3 million registered members localized in 15 different countries.

Copy Editor
  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3
Springfield Gazette | 1999 - 2004

The Springfield Gazette is a city newspaper of with a circulation of 10,000.

Assistant to the Junior Copy Editor
  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2

BA English and Writing
School of Hard Knocks

The resume format above shows career progression 2 ways. The first is with the increase in job titles, the second is through the illusion created via the number of bullets in each job. Accomplishments from the Springfield Gazette as the Assistant to Junior Copy Editor and TheBestReceipies as the copy editor are probably not answering any bullets in the job description requiring 10 - 15 years of experience. We do want to list these two positions so we can show that we have a passion for publishing and have been in the industry for a number of years. This is useful when the job description looks for 15 years of industry experience.

If earlier experience is completely unrelated or too junior to the job of interest, there is no law that says you are required to include all experience. As a person that reviews resumes, I am more inclined to keep reading a resume where a candidate lists the specific experience I am looking for versus accomplishments more suitable for a junior role. Let me know in the comments below if you are going to make any adjustments to your resume after reading this post.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can't help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. "He has a nasty forkball".

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