Crafting a Winning Resume

“Change is the only constant.” – Heraclitus.

As an ardent believer in change, and more specifically, career change, I subscribe to the principle that if you’re not changing, you’re not growing. Over the years, I’ve lived a wonderfully diverse life. Having worked, lived, or traveled to over 30 countries, I often joke that I’ve been gainfully unemployed, or rather, self-employed for the past two decades. My roles as an independent contractor in the international tour, travel, and meeting planning industry, and more recently, as a career educator, writer, and consultant, have given me opportunities to interact with nearly every industry and professional association across three continents.

The Journey of ‘Resumes That Work’™

It was in 1996, several years after returning from a teaching assignment in Madrid, Spain, that I decided to launch ‘Resumes That Work.’ I found that I could easily tap into any of my many skill sets, tailor a resume to match, and receive offers for yet another fascinating, ‘out-of-the-box’ contract, project, or consulting gig.

Seeing this, my friends and colleagues were intrigued! Like me, they were multi-talented, super creative, well-traveled, and non-linear. However, they felt it was impossible to fit their diverse life experiences into a two-dimensional resume format. Inspired by this, I began crafting multi-versioned resumes for myself and for the opportunities I created in North America, Europe, and Asia. I emerged as the resume writer for the creative, unconventional, and ‘foreign’ professional.

Fast forward 12 years, and I’ve expanded my scope as a business and career coach, guiding others towards choosing and creating work that they love. What sets me apart from other resume writers is my knack for creating a tailored, vibrant resume (a new palette of colors) for each client. They love it, and so do I!

With that said, let’s dive into some valuable tips for crafting a resume guaranteed to secure an interview.

  1. Modernize Your Contact Information: Include your email address in the header of your resume. A physical address isn’t necessary.
  2. Capture Attention with a Summary: Place a ‘Summary of Professional Strengths’ or ‘Highlights of Qualifications’ in the top third of your resume. Objective statements are best suited for entry-level positions or when you’re seeking a specific position within the same company or industry.
  3. Choose the Right Resume Type: Opt for a functional or chronological resume, depending on your situation. In recent years, I’ve found functional resumes to be more beneficial for mid-life career changers.
  4. Highlight Positions and Tenure: Each entry should include the company name, your title, and the number of years spent in the role. If you were at a company for less than a year, consider whether it’s worth listing as a ‘job’.
  5. Emphasize Your Achievements: Your resume should be accomplishment-based. Begin each entry with an action verb and include a Situation-Action-Result (SAR) statement.
  6. Fill Gaps with Pro-Bono Work: Volunteer work is an excellent way to fill employment gaps while showcasing relevant skills and experience. Evolved companies value well-rounded candidates with diverse life experiences.
  7. Keep it Concise: Strive for a two-page resume. Three pages are acceptable for senior roles, authors, presenters, and academics. It’s a common myth that a resume should be restricted to one page.
  8. Leave Out References: Don’t include references in your resume. The statement ‘references available upon request’ is also not necessary.
  9. Prioritize Readability: The average time spent reading a resume is between 30-45 seconds, so ensure your resume is well-formatted, easy to read, and error-free. A font like Arial or Times New Roman in 10-11pt size works best.
  10. Focus on Your Future: Your resume isn’t as much about your history as it is about your future! Describe your experiences and accomplishments in a way that aligns with your career goals, not just where you’ve been.
  11. Craft a Stellar Cover Letter: Always pair your resume with a well-crafted cover letter. It’s your opportunity to create a compelling narrative around your experiences and aspirations.

The Power of Adaptability

Remember, the best resumes are those that can adapt. The job market is continually evolving, and as job seekers, we need to be just as flexible. Every role you take on, every skill you learn, every connection you make is a valuable component of your professional journey. Don’t be afraid to present your non-linear career path as an asset. Often, it’s those unique experiences that make your resume stand out among the rest.

So, as you embark on your job search or consider a career transition, remember these tips. Tailor your resume, showcase your achievements, and highlight your readiness for future opportunities. Don’t forget – if it’s humanly possible, you CAN DO IT!


Shera Sever is a leadership consultant, empowering professionals and organizations to reach their peak performance.

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