How to write a resume for business roles

Several people have asked me for tips and best practices when it comes to resumes. Here is a summary that I have imparted over the years from reviewing and submitting resumes for business and managerial positions in the technology and engineering industries as a technical recruiter for engineering managers, product managers, business analysts, supply chain managers, project coordinators, and project managers.

A resume is reviewed 1-3 times during an interview process, more likely 3 for a managerial role. Its first job is to get you an interview. The resume is often reviewed again at subsequent interviews. And again, if the offer needs to be approved by finance, human resources, or the board. . Therefore, clarity is important as many people may be reading it.

Today, I will outline the structure I recommend people use when putting together a resume. It is important to recall several things when writing a resume :

Write it twice, or once. You shouldn't write a professional summary that lists every software tool and business process you’ve heard of. Write what you did in the job descriptions of the previous roles you performed for each company. It can be great to mention budgets, team size, and team accomplishments after what YOU specifically did. Your summary at the beginning of the resume should be short and specific to you and only you.

More detail is better than less. Generally, hiring managers and executives are looking for a reason to exclude a resume or something lacking. It is rare that resumes are printed (even more rare that the pandemic has us working remotely!) 2 pages is fine, more than 2 pages is fine, over 5 might be a bit much (unless you are bidding on a government contract). The skills that should be included can be found in the job description as well. Get detailed, and your most recent job should have the most detail and take up the most space on a resume.

Get detailed, and your most recent job should have the most detail and take up the most space on a resume.

The template I found most pleasing is as follows; it also gets the most traction.

“Company X – month/year to month/year
Title Y

Company X creates widget products for use by simulated cities.

Led a team of V people who were responsible for post-award activities related to product acquisition for use by simulated cities. My tasks were to liaise with clients and suppliers while maintaining and managing projects up to Q budget allowing Company X to realize savings and deliver under budget.

Tools/Business Processes : A, B, C, D, E”

What does the reader gain from this? I see the market, the technical tooling and process, and that you managed a team creating software products. If you want to take this to the next level

Company X – month/year to month/year
Title Y
Company X creates widget products for use by simulated cities.

Manager of group that dealt with post-sales widget acquisition activities. Cross functional team that comprised of V persons with designations such as Title M, N, O, and P persons who worked to make sure that there was consistent delivery of widget products to simulated cities. Budget of Z dollars was managed and we experienced year over year growth of Q, while realizing savings or R.

Widgets were purchased by such simulated cities as Dorcville, the Dorc and the Restless, and Fort Dorc.

Environment: A, B, C, D, E, Scrum, 10 person team”

Don’t include career objectives, cover letters, the phrase “results oriented” or "as required", or any additional documentation unless it is requested and a necessity. Put it all in the resume.

Do write a clear resume that outlines in great detail the work you did over the past 5-10 years, and sparing details before that. Don't include many details before 2007, it is less relevant according to Thomas Friedman.

Including company success is fine, detailing team success is important as well. It can get fuzzy quick, because you don't want to be using the pronoun "we" in an interview or resume unless you are Meghan or Harry (do they still use the royal We?). Your resume serves the explicit purpose of gaining you an interview, and possibly being reviewed later while you are receiving a job offer.