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Start from scratch

I recently completed a few resumes for people who didn't have an existing CV. I had to start from scratch. And do you know what? Their resumes ended up being short, succinct and snappy!

The biggest problem I see with resumes is that people put in way too much detail about each job. No-one wants to read an essay on a job you did eight years ago. Even if it's in dot points - people just won't read past the first few points.

So if it's time to cut down the detail in your resume here are some tips:

1. Delete all the information under each job.

It's really time to start from scratch. But keep a copy for reference.

2. Say it out loud.

For each role, out loud, describe what you do/did. This should describe your high level responsibilities.

Example: I manage a team to deliver the research and innovation strategy and provide advice to senior stakeholders.

3. Type it up

Type your high level responsibilities. Try to keep it to 3-4 dot points for recent jobs, and a maximum of 2 for older jobs. Start each dot point with an active verb, using the present tense for your current role, and past tense for your earlier roles.

Example verbs: Manage/Managed, Coordinate/Coordinated, Lead/Led, Design/Designed, Develop/Developed, Drive/Drove, Coach/Coached.

Check out this blog post on Power/Wow verbs for more ideas.

4. Add detail

Now you can add some detail. How many people and what teams did you manage? What was the budget? What specific projects did you manage?


  • Managed a team of 10 and budget of $3M to deliver the organisation-wide learning and development strategy.

  • Led five Learning Consultants to project manage the delivery of learning culture projects, including the delivery of learning technology projects.

5. Add achievements

If you had achievements on your old resume, you can use these on your new one. However, it's best to use the above method (say it out loud, then write it from scratch) to reduce some of the detail.

If you don't currently have any achievements listed, you'll need to brainstorm one or two for each role. If you are struggling to come up with some, workshop with a trusted friend.

See this blog post for some tips on brainstorming and writing achievements.

6. Edit

It's vital that you scrutinise each word on your CV, particularly the career history section. This is because the front page of your CV is a summary page (taking up a full page) so an employer or recruiter will probably only glance at the rest, which should only be a few pages.

[If you are unsure of what goes on the front page of a modern, Australian CV, then sign up here for my newsletter to receive the free 'How to write a Resume' e-book.]

So, does each sentence add value? Have you already said enough about a particular job? Will the employer or recruiter be so bored by the detail that they'll stop reading?

Once you've done your first cull, ask a friend or colleague for their opinion. Then edit again and it should be nice and succinct!


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