Your resume should be structured in a series of sections, with the most important at the top and the least important at the bottom. Selecting the most important sections is an important decision. Many job seekers prioritize information based on the significance to them. Unfortunately, what is important to a job seeker is often less important to a hiring manager. This makes it essential to prioritize based on the reader’s interests.
For most job seekers, work experience is the first thing a hiring manager will want to read. There are exceptions… new college grads should put their education first and technical experts should lead with their technical skills. Individuals with significant experience should lead with their experience.
A common structure for a resume of an experienced individual will look like this:
The resume I read today deviated from this structure substantially. The individual had 20 years of experience in the real estate field. With 20 years of experience, I would want to read the work experience to get a feel for what the candidate has done. Despite this, the work experience was buried at the bottom of the resume. Below is the structure the candidate used:
Education (lengthy section with training classes and certifications)
Affiliations (professional organizations in real estate)
Relevant Experience (details of non-work activities, including part-time jobs and a home-based business)
Skills (list of computer programs)
Professional Experience (the work experience section!!!)
This structure is very disjointed and does not sell the candidate. Much of the information in the education, relevant experience, volunteer work and skills sections is either routine for every candidate or completely unrelated to the jobs the candidate is pursuing. For example, experience with Windows XP may be a requirement for a position, but is far less important than the 20 years of work experience.
You need prioritize the elements of your background that are most directly related to the position you are pursuing. If I was rewriting this resume, I would delete a lot of information and completely reorder the information I kept.
You can expect the job seeker would resist this. Some of the information I would delete is information that has a high personal significance to the job seeker. The home-based business is a good example of this. I’m certain that this effort was something that the job seeker took a tremendous amount of pride in and worked hard to make successful. Despite this, the presentation on the resume shows little significance the candidate’s career. It just isn’t going to help land a job.
Make sure you prioritize based on the hiring manager’s priorities. If you are uncertain of your resume, get a second opinion.