How to Bring the Hottest Experience to the Top of Your Resume

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typewriterWhether you are an external recruiter or a job-seeking candidate, crafting a resume that gets results — i.e., interviews and hopefully offers — may depend on a few special tweaks you might not have considered. These tweaks are designed to bring more page-two experience to the forefront and emphasize on the hottest information hiring managers want to see.

While the hybrid resume that most people use today works in the majority of situations, a significant minority of candidates would benefit from an additional section that outlines their major accomplishments. Usually, this section falls after the core competencies (a.k.a., keywords) section.

When to Use This Technique

Use this technique when job changes over the past few years make an otherwise stable resume look choppy or job-hoppy.

This technique can also be used in instances where significant experience relevant to the job at hand remains buried even after you have added a title line, summary statement, and keywords.

I like to label this special section either “Career Highlights” or “Select Accomplishments.”

Why Use This Method

This section allows for the addition of non-chronological information. This is huge! Taking quantifiable achievements and/or experiences out of sequence allows you to highlight these hot selling points and downplay information that may be harmful.

Keep in mind that a resume is really a marketing document. To give an analogy: Pharmaceutical companies must include side effects in their advertisements, but they certainly don’t present this information right away. Instead, they lead with the product benefits.

If the “meatiest” experience on your resume never sees the light of day because it is buried way down on page two, recruiters and hiring managers may pass and move on to the next candidate. An accomplishments section can be particularly beneficial if the experience at the top of your employment history section is irrelevant to the job at hand. In this case, the accomplishments section can change the entire interview tone, steering the conversation toward the positive instead of the negative.

Example Accomplishment Sections

Below are two examples of effective accomplishments sections.

This first candidate has a blended background that includes some sales and has changed jobs twice in the past two years. By adding a “Select Accomplishments” section, the candidate shifts the focus away from their gaps and onto their successes.

Select Accomplishments

As VP of Business Development at ABC Corporation:

– Achieved 110% revenue growth during year one; optimized sales strategies and led team selling of cloud-based technology solutions for big data and DevOps

– Attained 107% customer retention quarter-over-quarter by successfully scaling teams, mentoring sales representatives, and training new customer success managers

– Averaged nearly 35% month-over-month account expansion by using enhanced sales tactics that focused on product adoption and renewals

As Senior Account Manager at XYZ Inc.:

– Identified, qualified, and engaged multiple “greenfield” clients, providing cradle-to-grave account management; consistently exceeded target performance objectives

Notice how pulling this this information out of the work history and placing it at the top of the resume adds immediate value. If the candidate skipped this section and lead with their most recent jobs, the resume would invite questions about tenure rather than highlighting strengths.

Candidates without many quantifiable achievements can use a similar technique to bring early career information to the forefront. In this next example, mentioning relevant experience at key companies makes a huge impact. By listing their jobs out of sequence, the candidate has repositioned a recent role at an HVAC supply house. Listing this job first might have confused readers, but here, the candidate puts the emphasis on accomplishments.

Career Highlights 

– 4+ years of corporate building facilities management (Xerox / Cushman & Wakefield)
– 12+ years of hospital and senior care property maintenance (Cedar Sinai / Brookfield)
– 3+ years of mechanical plant operations (Engelhard Corp. / Mearl)

While not always necessary, this bonus resume section can be very powerful in combination with a strong title line, summary statement, and competency list. Do keep in mind that applicant tracking systems (ATSs) may not love it, but the section is nonetheless so worth it! If you do use this tactic, be ready to correct parsed resumes, or have a good plain text version handy. While making the ATS happy is important, getting the best message across in a way that gets results is priority No. 1.

Wendy Schwartz, CPRW, is an IT recruiter, resume writer, and career consultant. Wendy is launching to complement her staffing firm

By Wendy Schwartz