Provide the Scope of Your Experience

I read a resume today that started with a section titled “Highlights of Experience.”  This can be a good way to start a resume because it focuses on the key elements of the job seeker's background. 

The resume I read listed a number of vague bullet points.  One in particular that I see on a lot of resumes was:

  • P & L Management

Having profit and loss responsibility for a department or company is a great experience.  Many positions require this background and it is good to list it.

The problem with the bullet the job seeker listed is it gives no measure of the scope of the responsibility.  I can't tell if the guy managed a bake sale with a $20 budget over a weekend or had a billion dollar budget he managed for a decade. 

Adding just a little detail – number of years and the size of the budget – gives sufficient detail to understand the scope of responsibility.  For example:

  • Full P&L management of budgets ranging from $2 million to $5 million over eight years.

This bullet provides sufficient background on the P&L experience to help differentiate the job seeker.  Without providing detail, the hiring manager will do one of two things.  They may discount the experience as insignificant and forget it or they will ask for details of the experience in an interview.  If you want the your P&L experience to be a selling point, provide the details up front.  Otherwise, you need something else in your resume to sell your potential and get you the opportunity to interview.


If you have read a number of my posts on resumes, you probably know that I'm a strong proponent of providing accomplishments and not just responsibilities.  Listing “P&L Management” is a responsibility.  The rewritten bullet above adds details of the scope but is still just listing a responsibility.  Having a lot of responsibility is good, but it's what you do with it.  For example, the US Congress is responsible for passing the budget of the federal government.  If we were looking at a Representative or Senator, there is no bigger budget in the world to manage.  Despite this, the size of the budget deficits we have had is not a selling point for P&L Management. 

Even better than providing the scope of the responsibility is providing a specific accomplishment.  Something like this would be great:

  • P&L Management:  Full P&L management of budgets ranging from $2 million to $5 million over eight years.  At ABC Company, took over a department with a $4 million budget that had missed budget by $250k the prior year.  Implemented new cost control procedures and replaced numerous suppliers, leading to a $125k positive variance the first year.

If you were a hiring manager looking for a manager that could manage a budget effectively, this example would make a significant impression. 

Compare this to the original bullet that is typical of so many resumes.  The original bullet does nothing to differentiate the job seeker from their competition.  The second bullet provides some good information that may separate the job seeker from some of their competition.  Only the 3rd bullet sells the candidate's background.  If we were looking at three candidates, I know which one I would want to interview first.