Accomplishments, Not Duties, Jump Off the Page

Sunday, November 11, 2007

David Cummings is taking early retirement from Verizon, but he would like to find a similar position in finance or accounting.

Cummings has great skills, but he needs to market them better, said Peter Newfield, president of Career Resumes.

"Nothing on the résumé jumps off the page. It's plain vanilla," Newfield said.

"If someone took the time to read this r¿sum¿, they would find out what his skills are, but really nothing else." They probably won't, though, Newfield said. "There's just too much information."

Cummings has essentially been with the same employer for more than 20 years, through a series of telecom mergers. But that isn't obvious the way his résumé is formatted now, Newfield said. Cummings should set off the employer's name clearly on the page, with the job titles that he has held over the years listed below it.

Also, too much space is given to describing job duties, and not to highlighting accomplishments, Newfield said. Even the sections labeled "accomplishments" are primarily job descriptions. Cummings needs to make it clear how his work contributed to the bottom line. "Quantify it."

His résumé spills onto a second page, which is fine given his experience, Newfield said, as long as that first page shines. "Right now, it reads like a book."

-- Mary Ellen Slayter

© 2007 The Washington Post Company