6 tips for listing your employment experience on your resume

Here are some basic tips for the experience section on your resume.  First and foremost, don’t lie.  Employers may not be able to dig into your past too much by calling your past employers but we can almost always get your dates of employment and what position you held there.

We’re out of the 1900s so keep it clean

You can use fonts and effects (bold, ALL CAPS, underline, italics, etc…) to draw attention to things but don’t let it take away from a clean looking resume.  Let Comic Sans die already.

What you did is more important than where you did it

I advise people to highlight their position more than the company where they worked.  Take a look at these two examples

Enterprise Holdings Inc.
Management Trainee

Management Trainee
Enterprise Holdings Inc.

For most recruiters and hiring managers they are first interested in what you did in your last positions THEN where you did it.  Put the more important of the two first and bring attention to it through formatting.

Employment dates matter

How you write your dates of employment matter.  Here is how a recruiter/hiring manager interprets different styles:

  • ’12 – ’13: You are trying to hide something… what and why?
  • 2012 – 2013: OK, maybe you worked from December 31st 2012 to January 1st 2013.
  • 2/1/2012 – 3/15/2013:  High attention to detail… maybe too high unless you are applying to be an actuarial or for a government job.
  • 2/2012 – 3/2013: You were there for a year and a month, simple enough.

A brief description may help

You do not want to write a dissertation under each job but a brief description may help.  I recruit a lot of sales people and I want to know what you have sold in the past.  Save me the time of having to look up what industry your company is in and what they do.  But keep it brief.

Bullet your KSAs under each position

I did my reading comprehension in school and I didn’t like it then.  Please do not write a narrative about what you did in each position.  Which do you think is easier to read in 5-10 seconds?

  • Exceeded sales goals by an average of 20% – 30%
  • Hunter mentality with cold calling experience
  • 82% retention rate year over year

As a sales executive I exceeded my sales goals by an average of 20% to 30%.  I have a hunter mentality and I enjoy the challenge of cold calling by phone, email and in person.  Retention of existing customers is also a focus of mine resulting in an 82% retention rate

What to leave OFF you resume

I do NOT need to know how old you are, if you are married, have kids or any other personal information.  Also, leave your picture on LinkedIn but these days it is generally not put on resumes.  If we want references we will ask you for them.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.
Nikos Kazantzakis

Why you should use summary of qualifications on your resume

There are many ways to do a resume but there are two TRUTHs that you need to keep in mind when writing and reviewing your resume.

A recruiter will look at a resume for 5 to 10 seconds

We recruiters are a busy lot. Most recruiters handle 20 – 30 openings at a time and we usually have 100s of applicants for each position.  You need to get our attention FAST!

Recency and Relevancy Rule

You need to focus on what is recent and what is relevant.  I am usually NOT interested in what you did 10 years ago UNLESS it is directly relevant to the position you are applying for.

Why using a summary of qualifications rocks

You get to bring THE most important stuff from your background to the top of your resume.  Be sure to bullet it as I do not like reading comprehension tests.  You can highlight certifications, training, relevant work experience, etc…

Keep it to 3-7 bullet points.  Remember, recruiters tend to be a little ADHD so we want the facts, no fluff.  Think of your summary of qualifications as the answer to this question:

Why should I call you about this position instead of all these other people?

Try it out on your resume then A/B test it to see what others think.


Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.
Ayrton Senna

5 things you must get right on your resume

How many times have you heard “First things first?”  But time and time again people mess things up from the beginning… their name.  You may ask “how can someone screw that up?”

Get your name right on your resume

For some reason people often times put their full name on their resume.  Put the name you usually go by on your resume.  No, not the nickname that you got as a pledge but the name you prefer people to call you.  There is no rule or law out there saying your resume must match your social security card.

This comes into play when someone from a company calls you.  If they ask for your proper name you may think it is a telemarketer.

Your resume should include your location

Many people are nervous about including their address on resumes but you at least want to put the city and state.  Many companies only want to hire local candidates.  If it is not evident that you are local they move on to the next candidate.

Be sure your phone number is working

I have had it happen on several occasions that I call a candidate only to hear that the number is no longer in service.  Or I hear that their voicemail is not set up.  To bad for them, I am calling the next resume.

Use a good email address

I shouldn’t have to mention it but I will… be sure your email address is professional.  You also want to be sure you don’t miss any emails.  I recommend starting a new email address for your job search.  That way your spam filter is less likely to grab an email from a company and it won’t get buried.

Social Media and your resume

You may want to include your LinkedIn and possibly your Twitter handle.  It is easy to create a custom LinkedIn url.  Most companies will check social media before hiring you so you might as well include it up front.  Hopefully you are using your social media to your advantage.

If you don’t get these things right, not much else matters.


Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.
William Feather

Have you A/B tested your resume?

AB testingIf you are not familiar with A B testing it is the latest way that companies determine which version of something people like more.  Here is a brief description of A/B testing.  It is being used EVERYWHERE!

Why you need to A/B test your resume

Resumes are tough.  You need to tweak them every time you apply for a job but how do you decide on the starting point?  You need to A/B test it.  I fully admit that there may be some ethical issues here.  Ideally you would apply to the same positions at the same companies but with different resumes.  But to do that you would need to use different unique identifiers (probably email addresses) and maybe different names and phone numbers.  The ethical issue comes into play if/when they ask you “have you ever applied with us before.”  Did I mention that lying on application is a quick and easy way to never get hired at a company?

So if you decide, as I would, to do the next best thing you want to apply to similar positions with two different resumes and track your results.  PLEASE tell me that you track where and when you apply for jobs!  You can also take both versions with you to informational interviews to ask their opinion.

Sometimes good is great

Yesterday morning Jeremy Carter from Breakout Birmingham and the Bold Future podcast told me… “If you wait on great, it never gets here.  Sometimes good should be your great.”  He was talking about editing podcasts but the same is true for working on your resume.  You have to find a stopping point.  Eventually you have to start applying for jobs.  I guarantee that you will miss out on 100% of the jobs you do not apply for.

Job boards are not dead

Today I read a report stating that 35% of the people surveyed in the US said that internet job boards were an important part of their job search.  If your resume sucks then you are effectively shooting blanks.  You MUST have a good resume.

More on what makes a good resume to come…


The true greatness of a person, in my view, is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required.
Joseph B. Wirthlin

Do you want to make a living or do you want to make a life?

You need to ask yourself a lot of questions when you start a job search.

  • What have been my favorite jobs and why?
  • What were my least favorite jobs and why?
  • What are my KSAs and where can I use them?

And the list goes on and on…  One question I don’t think we ask very often is “Do I want to make a living or do I want to make a life?”  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you can make a VERY good living and have a crappy life.  Strangely enough, the reverse is also true.  Sure, some people have both but usually, you end up choosing one or the other.  But you don’t have to feel that you are sacrificing a living to have a great life, but you do have to choose.

Make a list of what you want your LIFE to look like.

Not how many hours you want to work vs. how much time off you want but what are the BIG things you want?  Do not confuse the STUFF as being your life.  Your LIFE cannot be taken away from you but you can loose it… by the choices you make.

  • If you have a family, how involved do you want to be?
  • What do you enjoy doing… helping others?  building things?
  • What makes you excited about getting out of bed in the morning?

If you believe in God, have you prayed about what he wants for you?

Many times we spend the majority of our lives trying to build a good living that leads to a crappy shallow life.  When you find out who you are meant to be, you can then start to figure out what you are meant to do.


Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston S. Churchill

Prove something to yourself every day

Are you listening to any self-help or performance oriented podcasts?  If so it won’t be long before you will hear something about pushing your comfort zone.  The challenge is, that if you do that long enough then you expanded your comfort zone.  Then you need to push more.  Sound frustrating?  It doesn’t have to be.

Do one thing a day that makes you a little uncomfortable.

Want to start a new habit?  Then you need to be consistent.  You may be thinking “I am consistent… I am consistently inconsistent.”  But seriously, start something new today that will move you in a positive direction.  I bet, it you think about it for about two minutes, you can think of at least one thing that would improve your life.  And I bet that you have wanted to do it for a while now.  Science has taught us that if we say “I will start doing that or stop doing this tomorrow…”  tomorrow will never come.  Start today!

“There is no future, there is no past.  I live this moment as my last”

Jonathan Larson

So what do you need to do in your jobcerch right now that makes you uncomfortable?  I bet it has something to do with following up with someone or reaching out to a few contacts.  Most people don’t like networking.  Think of sales people… most of them do not like doing cold calls.  But the successful people do it because they know it leads to success.

I know what you are doing… you are emailing them, right?  That is OK for today but in two days I want you to call that person and when they answer the phone, you ask them “Hello, this is Al Pollard.  I am following up our email from Wednesday.”  They are then most likely scrambling to figure out what the email was about.  Now is your time… hit them with your elevator pitch.

But I don’t like “selling” myself.

OK, that is fine.  The other applicants for that position might not like it either.  But if a few of them do it and you don’t, it will put you out of the running.  You only need one job but at the same time a company only needs one butt in each seat.  Will it be yours?

When we think of sales we usually think of some guy named “The Dog” (I actually know him and he is a really nice guy) who calls over and over and over…  Or maybe you are thinking of that kid from Better Off Dead… “I want my two dollars.”  What we don’t think about are the friends who sell us things every day.  Why do you like what you like?  I bet someone “sold” you on the product, or on the idea of shopping at that store.  Sales is not a bad thing.

What is on the other side of fear?  Nothing.

Jamie Foxx

Not many of us have the focus, determination and the fearlessness of Jamie Foxx but we can learn from him.  In his interview with Tim Ferriss, Jamie talks about his life and the obstacles he has overcome and continues to face.  What obstacles are you creating for yourself in your jobcerch?


Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.
Shannon L. Alder


Science proves Proverbs 11:25 is true

proverbs 11 25Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

If you have not listened to Shankar Vedantam’s podcast HiddenBrain then you are missing out.  One of the episodes is on compassion and how being kind to others can make a real difference in your own life.

You may be wondering how this affects your jobcerch.  Do you think companies WANT to hire angry people?  Or how about mean people?  Have you ever seen a job posting like this…

Requirements include:
    -Being rude to people, especially receptionists. 
    -Answering the phone tersely: "what?"
    -Taking others for granted and not saying thank you.
    -Not helping others.
Pains in the ass wanted!  Apply today!

I have never seen a job posting like that and I bet you have not either.  But many people seem like that is the job they are going after.

I also do not think that many people wake up thinking “Man, I can’t wait to get out there and start spreading some unhappiness!”  Most people can’t seem to help it… or so they think. They can help it, they just need to choose to help others and it will very likely make them happier also.

So after you get that email wishing you the best in your future endeavors and you are feeling lower than a snake’s belly in wagon rut get out there and do something nice for someone.  Ideally someone you don’t know, who cannot repay your kindness.  The giving of the gift is your reward.  It is amazing how scientists spend a lot of time, effort and money confirming what many people already know.


It’s all really very simple.  You don’t have to choose between being kind to yourself and others.  It’s one and the same.
Piero Ferrucci

What do companies and people value?

hard workOne thing that has become evident to me is that as Americans we value hard work more than results.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at a couple of examples…

A locksmith shared his story:  When he was an apprentice it would take him a long time to open locks.  People were nice, they offered him something to drink and never complained about the fee he charged.  But once he became skilled at his craft things changed…  He charged the same amount but now he could open locks in a fraction of the time.  Customers would complain and were not nice to him.  Same outcome and same cost.  I would argue that he was providing MORE of a service when he did it quickly.

A doctor shares their story:  An emergency room physician told me that they generally know within a few minutes if they are going to need to admit someone or not.  Not all the time, but most of the time they don’t need tests to tell them that things are bad.  But if they tell the patient they are going to admit them in the first few minutes the patient and their family gets mad and argumentative.  So what do they do?  They run a few tests, wait on the results, talk to the patient some more, run a few more tests and THEN they tell them.  Very few complaints.  Keep in mind these are not useless tests.  They are needed to diagnose the problem but they usually are not used in determining whether or not to admit the patient.

You may be asking… how does this affect my job search?  Think about it… this is the PROBLEM that controls many of the issues in the job search.

Resume: If you have misspelled words or poor grammar on your resume it signals to the company that you did not spend a lot of time on it.  Or they may think that it shows a lack of communication skills.  What it may REALLY show is that you did not spend the $200 – $500 to have a Jobcerch professional help you with your resume.  Resumes RARELY predict performance.

Questions you ask:  If you do not have any questions the company thinks you are not interested or that you did not take the time to prepare for the interview.  The truth may be that you are SO interested that you want to start, no questions asked.  Or that you did not enlist the help of a Jobcerch professional to help you prep for the interview.

Follow up:  If you do not follow-up with a thank you email or note the company thinks you are not interested.  The truth may be that you thanked them at the end of the interview and that was enough.  Or maybe you did not work with a Jobcerch professional to help you plan your job search, including what to do after each interview.

Much of what makes a difference in the interview process is how much time, effort and treasure, we (the company) think that you put into seeking employment at our company.  Remember, it is a lot like dating.  If someone pursues you  (not stalks you) then you are more likely to be interested in them.

You may wonder why I spelled “job search” Jobcerch.  I am finishing putting the information on my new website Jobcerch.comWe spell it wrong because you’re not doing it right.


I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.
Estee Lauder

Success isn’t owned

I heard a great J. J. Watt quote from the Spartan Up! podcast: “Success isn’t owned, it’s leased and rent is due every day.”  This is true in much of our lives including your job search.  You must do something every day in your job search.

Many times people ask “How do I find a job?”  Unfortunately the answer is not a simple one.  It is similar to asking “How do I find my spouse?”  Plus, you don’t just want A job, you want THE job…

  • THE job that will become more like a hobby that pays.
  • THE job you might even like waking up for.
  • THE job where you are friends with your coworkers.
  • THE job where you are not so focused on what you make because you love what you do.

So, how do you find and get THE job?  You want to use all of the resources at your disposal.  One often overlooked tool in the job hunt is your deep network.  I separate networks into shallow and deep.  Your shallow network includes those 1000 Facebook friends and the 500 LinkedIn contacts you have.  Your deep network is the people who know you in real life.  They may be close friends,  people you go to church with or your workout buddies.  You want to keep them up to date on the job search so you can leverage their network.

I had lunch with two friends the other day.  I asked one if he had heard back from the application he put in at a company.  The other friend said, “hey, I know someone there.  I will check with them.”  You need to find the way that works for you to keep people up to date without bugging them.  One way may be to periodically update your deep network on where you have applied.

Unless you are a turd, your network will want to help you find a job.  You’re not a turd, right?


Hard times will always reveal true friends.


There is no homeostasis in life, including your job search


I heard a quote the other day ” There is no homeostasis, you’re either growing or dying.”  This rings truest if you are out of work or underemployed.  Every day you are not working costs you.

I am not trying to start a panic but you really do need to get off and stay off your butt if you are out of work.  I am not saying you need to be frenetic about it but you need to take it seriously, like it’s your job.  If you want to make $40k a year then each workday you miss costs you over $150.  Need I remind you that you only need ONE JOB?

Look at it from a recruiter’s point of view… to hire one person we usually need to have 2-3 finalists.  To get one finalist it usually takes 3-4 first interviews.  To get a first interview it usually takes about 8-10 applicants.  Quick math will tell you that means I usually need over 100 applicants to fill a position.  If I miss one person that would have been the RIGHT person that means I could need another 100 applicants.  Those numbers keep me on my toes.

You need to keep this in mind in your job search.  Should you send out the four networking emails today that are on your job search plan?  Should you go by that job fair?  Should you look online?  Again, not to make you panic, but if someone else gets that ONE JOB, you may need to do a whole lot more looking.

Make it a game if you need to.  Jane McGonigal tells you how in her TED Talk.  It is not directly about searching for a job but it is easy to adapt her SuperBetter game to your quest for employment.

Yes, I know searching for a job sucks.  I have been there.  But as Rob Schneider as the Townie in The Waterboy said “You can do it!”


Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.