"Before" and "After" Resumes: What Makes the Difference?
Most people come to me with a resume already written. It may be 15 or 20 years old—unused while they built their career in a single company—or it may be their first attempt at a resume. In any case, they have put words on paper to describe their careers. These are the “before” resumes. What do I do that makes them “after” resumes?

First, most “before” resumes do not stress accomplishments. They are task oriented: “I did this on my job and then I did that.” When I create an “after” resume, it shows the value that the candidate contributed: dollars or hours saved, teams inspired, solutions found, or some other tangible or intangible benefit. It shows that the candidate’s contribution was recognized: through awards or promotions given, responsibility increased, or testimonials received from peers, customers, or vendors.

Second, most “before” resumes are poorly organized. A great deal of space is spent on a list of unorganized duties without accomplishments, or accomplishments which do not speak to the employer’s needs. “After” resumes begin with a clear headline and compelling profile. They stress keywords and “must haves” from job listings, integrated smoothly into the text. The format conforms to current standards; is easy to follow; and works with electronic Applicant Tracking Systems.

Third, most “before” resumes make too many assumptions. Hiring managers and recruiters cannot guess at the job a candidate wants, the qualifications a candidate meets, or the unique value a candidate brings. In many “before” resumes, information is left out by oversight or because “everyone knows that” or “no one cares about that.” The “after” resume that I write delivers information clearly and concisely. I spend time to know candidates in the way that hiring managers and recruiters want to know them—then represent the candidate in the strongest possible terms.

Fourth, most “before” resumes contain errors of content or judgment. Acronyms are unexplained; grammatical and spelling mistakes creep in; or perhaps the level of technical language is inappropriate for hiring managers and recruiters. Easily dealt with problems, such as gaps in employment, raise red flags rather than being helped by good resume writing techniques. In the “after” resume, the candidate and I have partnered to eliminate errors and to solve problems in a professional manner.