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Resume writing

man on a chair writing notes

One of the most common mistakes I see in resumes at the managerial and executive level is the omission of context in professional experiences. Why is context important in your resume?

1. Whenever you make a resume reader work hard to figure out your potential value and fit, you are likely not going to benefit.

2. Resumes are selling documents and context at the company, role, and career path levels can be additional arrows in your quiver.

3. Fit is a subtle but important thing. You are helping highlight where you do indeed fit through context.

Company Context

When you leave the reader of your resume guessing who your employer was (industry/sector, ownership (public, private, family business, etc.) size, market position), the chances are that they won’t guess. They will just move on to the next resume.

If you have worked with recognizable names, market leaders, etc. use that to your advantage. If you haven’t, make sure that you sell your past employers. If the person hiring doesn’t know and therefore doesn’t value where you worked, then you have a big problem.

Role Context

You also want to place your role in the context of the company you worked for. A Marketing Manager, for example, might have reported to a Sr. Marketing Manager, a Director of Marketing, a VP, or even the President. That same marketing manager might be one of several marketing managers or the only marketing person in the company. It is vital that you place your role in context.

Career Path Context

In my humble opinion, the best resumes describe a theme, or thread through the candidate’s career path. That the various experiences and education add up to someone who knows where they are going. That the work experiences add up to a story that explains why the candidate made certain choices, and more importantly, why they are here today being interviewed for this opportunity.

Don’t forget context! 

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