Search Tip: Reinventing Your Resume

Search Tip: Reinventing Your Resume

Did you know that the original resume is credited to Leonardo da Vinci? This resume was a handwritten letter to Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, listing the ways da Vinci’s inventions might be of benefit to the Duke. And while da Vinci does numerically list each item, the format of the resume is very conversational, written to appeal to the Duke’s needs.

As an executive search recruiter, I appreciate the resume; however, we have found ourselves in a rigid resume structure of bullet after bullet of short phrases listing career, education and service experience, composed in increasingly shrinking font and crammed on two pages. A resume should appeal to the needs of the employer. It should tell a story reflecting a candidate’s accomplishments and highlight transferable skills. It should also be in a font size that is legible to the naked eye.

I have come to appreciate is the Human-Voiced Resume. I first heard about this resume format in a Forbes article by Liz Ryan, Founder and CEO, Human Workforce. In her article, How to Write Your Human-Voiced Resume, Ryan provides an outline for creating this type of document. This is more of a biographical account of a person’s work history that weaves each position together with the next, while highlighting major achievements in each one.

One key element of this resume style is that it tells the reader how a candidate found each position. As a recruiter, I value understanding the story behind job transitions, especially when it looks like a candidate had a very short tenure with a company. People forget to say something as simple as, “XYZ Corp. was acquired by ABC Corp. in 2010.” I see six months spent at XYZ Corp and two years at ABC Corp. and wonder why the person was only at XYZ company for six months, when she was actually at the company for over two years. Other notes such as, “I was recruited from ABC Corp. to my client, QRS Corp.,” tell a recruiter that a client liked a candidate’s work enough to bring her on board. It is even acceptable to explain that a position was eliminated in a downsizing. These are all legitimate reasons for making a transition and help the reader gain context.

Another key element, the reader sees what the candidate accomplished in each position. If she developed a new program, upgraded major systems, invented a new product, created and implemented training initiatives, or brought in new clients, these events need to be noted along with the impact they had on the organization. To give an example, “I developed a new employee orientation program that allowed ABC Corp. to successfully train and retain over 300 employees gained from the acquisition of Alpha Corp. That program is still used by ABC to assist with employee on-boarding.”

As far as resume length, I have seen three-page resumes that tell a fantastic story and I have read some very poorly written two-page resumes. Again, the key is to tell a great story that appeals to the reader and highlights major accomplishments. Keep it as concise as possible, yet make sure the reader does not need a magnifying glass in order to review, an invention credited to Roger Bacon in 1250.


This article was written by Amy Bauer, Managing Principal, CA Search Advisors, LLC.  CA Search Advisors is a national executive search firm, focused on the real estate industry. Our managing principals, Katie Becker and Amy Bauer, have a deep inside knowledge and extensive long-standing relationships as a result of working directly in the industries they serve. You can rest assured that you are in good care and in the hands of a firm you can trust. Let us bring the best talent to you!