Seven things that should appear on a resumé

Image This article expands last month’s discussion of “The Credible Resumé” with a summary of the crucial information a resumé should include:

1.    Candidate’s name, full postal address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address indicated clearly at the top. To find either the candidate’s contact information or geographic location, the reader should never have to hunt. We are especially attuned to this requirement at PrintLink because we serve two countries and often receive international submissions.

Additionally, since most of our resumé submissions are now electronic, reviewing them on a monitor makes it easier to skip over information that doesn’t stand out visually on the page.

2.     Next comes a concise summary statement describing the person’s main function in the workplace and his or her primary skills. In order to be most effective, this section of the resumé should constitute a marketing statement—or even a headline. It should highlight the person’s strongest selling points right away to give the reader a reason to look further—functioning almost like the tantalizing author-and-plot summaries on the back or inside panels of a book’s dust jacket. But although people are the lifeblood of our business at PrintLink, we don’t usually read a summary that is too long or too vague.

3.     Similarly, we are not looking for a candidate’s objectives, since these can be presumptuous, irrelevant, or add nothing further to the account of the person’s background. For example, candidates frequently set meaningless targets, such as “A position where I can utilize my skills and capabilities,” or aspirations that are inappropriate for their work history, such as “To work as an Operations Manager in a progressive organization” when the candidate’s actual work experience has been restricted to hands-on equipment operation only.

A further caveat against considering a candidate’s objectives is that they can pigeonhole that person incorrectly or too narrowly. Part of our responsibility as recruitment specialists is to assess which positions the candidate qualifies for. In this context, a candidate’s objectives might be relevant in discussing a pending career change from production to sales or from hands-on operator to supervisor or supervisor to manager.  But we prefer to consider such information in separate covering letters from candidates or else review it with them in conversation.

4.     Work history. We like to see work history next because it substantiates the summary. It should be outlined in descending chronological order, complete with job titles, company names, and start and end dates for each job. In some instances a short sentence defining the company’s business and location helps as well. For assessing the candidate’s experience and competencies, it also helps if the work history includes a point-form overview of activities and accomplishments associated with each job. This overview is important because job profiles differ from company to company, even though position titles may be the same.

Accomplishments are often the most difficult things for candidates to define, since they necessitate self-promotion. We look for realistic and substantiated accomplishments–not fabricated, superficial or statistical feats that are impossible to verify.

There is considerable debate about how much of a person’s job history should be included on a resumé. We encourage candidates to show all of it, thus allowing their resumé to tell the full story of their career evolution. Some, however, have reached a chronological stage where they do not need to detail every single job they have held. In such cases, just a simple summary suffices for the earliest stages of their career, in which they list under the heading “Previous Experience” only company names, position titles, and dates.

5.     Education, training, qualifications section. We like to see dates included here as well, particularly related to training, seminars and professional-development programs.

6.     We prefer that references are not listed on the resumé. We would rather discuss them with candidates relative to specific positions. “References available on request” is an unnecessary statement—because they had better be! We recognize that supplying certain reference contacts can be a special challenge for candidates in confidential situations, but we are usually able to work around that.

7.     Leisure activities or hobbies can sometimes be relevant, because they give us an idea of the candidate’s personality. For example, if they reveal a person who is community-minded, we might try to match the candidate with a community-minded company. There is a fine line, however, between relevant information and information that is excessive or too personal. We are very attuned to assessing whether the candidate can utilize the resumé’s length and format in a manner pertinent and appropriate to his or her career goals.     

Victoria Gaitskell is a placement specialist with PrintLink, a professional placement firm for the graphic communications industry.
T: 1 877 413-2600 E: