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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Resume Rules Impact Resume Strategy

I recently participated in an insightful networking session on “Resume Rules” which made me think of how resume strategies change in accordance with certain trends and formats. Today, I strive to offer my clients the latest formats and styles while showcasing their unique value proposition.

Debunking Outdated Resume Myths

It seems that several years ago, the "duties and responsibilities" section of the resume was considered important. However, your resume takes about six seconds to read and formulate a general impression. Therefore, your achievements, especially of a both quantitative and qualitative nature, have taken precedence for quite some time. The common outdated line “references available upon request” has minimal value and is better replaced with an impressive quote or testimonial by an employer. This approach heightens the candidate's credibility and invites a call to action for the employer to keep reading.

You may recall hearing about using only the chronological format. These days a hybrid or combined format seems a better fit in order to offer the best of both worlds -- chronological combined with functional aspects of the resume. A hybrid format resume works effectively because it highlights relevant key words and areas of expertise, then goes on to articulate achievements using the SAR Method- Situation – Action – Results.

There is even more flexibility to using modest colour and design in a professional and inspiring way to draw out the candidate’s brand. Length is sometimes a concern for clients, as some recruiters may suggest a resume of no more than one page or even two pages. This can be somewhat challenging for senior level executives with extensive experience. For purposes of privacy, clients may only want to include the city and province they reside in the resume header rather than outlining the full address, which is now acceptable in most cases.

I am sometimes asked about the necessity of a summary profile. Not every resume needs an extensive summary profile. However, the summary provides a brief introduction about the candidate which is read by the employer. Summary profiles sometimes feature the pronoun “I” -- another method of branding the candidate’s value. And some resumes may even still include the once popular 'Career Objective line' in a situation where there is a major career transition or target for a specific role within a specific organization.

The point is that, the resume is a unique marketing tool that makes you, the job candidate, stand apart. Resume rules need to be considered for the purposes of being considered by the audience and being accepted by the ATS system, and do impact resume strategy. But we need to equally consider the audience targeted – who is reading the resume – along with the client’s expertise and goals, added value, and their style and preferences. Resume verbiage needs to be kept simple, yet showcase tangible results related to the career target.

As a resume strategist and writer, I adhere to common resume content and mechanics rules. But where there is room allowed for a little creativity to make the candidate stand out, I implement a unique resume strategy. If a minor resume rule needs to be cast aside in place of another one, it may be as a result of addressing career-related obstacles such as unemployment gaps or lack of experience in order to draw out the candidate's strengths.

I always explore all the facets of the candidate's experience and professional background, as well as the employer's requirements, before addressing resume strategy. A common question I always ask clients, " What makes you stand apart?" This is the pressing question that employers want to know, which determines a significant basis of their hiring decisions when investigating suitability for a role.

Emerging Trends

We are already starting to see new and innovative resume trends emerging each year with newer designs followed by different types of resumes – from landscape format resumes to infographic resumes, video resumes, as well as PowerPoint-based resumes.

Complete portfolios including addendums, visual key charts, professional biographies, business cases, and a reference testimonial document are also valuable to have in interviews -- when concrete results are in demand against strong competition. It does depend on the employer’s requirements and criteria.

LinkedIn is becoming the leading networking tool. In most cases, the LinkedIn profile serves as a primary online resource that employers tend to explore when investigating the candidate’s qualifications and fit.

We know that, however, regardless of the emerging trends, overused buzz-words and jargon, gimmicks, and careless spelling errors, as well as sloppy, disorganized content will be likely screened out. Today’s resume is one of the most important branded marketing documents that you will have at your disposal – use it wisely and be proud of your fruitful accomplishments. They reflect the unique brand --"you." For more information about resume strategy, contact Lori Jazvac, Certified Resume Strategist/Career Consultant at 905.730.2374 or email

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