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Resume Makeover: A Sales Exec Gets a New Marketing Document

By Dory Devlin

Editor's note: In this feature, presents before and after resumes of actual job hunters. The name of the candidate, his prior employers and contact information have been changed.

Jeffrey Sales, an advertising-sales executive, made some smart moves during his career, such as breaking into Internet-ad sales in the 1990s. But four companies later, he found himself in a senior-level sales job that sounded ideal during interviews but turned out to be a poor fit.

He knew it was time to hit the job market again. With his experience, he was in a good position to move into another executive ad-sales position, but he looked for a job for nearly a year with no success. He realized his resume needed work.

"If a resume is a presentation of your career, then my presentation was not very good," Jeffrey says. "I wasn't giving a true picture of what I've accomplished."

For the first time in his career, the 40-something executive hired a resume writer. He contacted Alesia Benedict, executive director of, a resume-writing and career-coaching company based in Upper Saddle River, N.J.

The situation: Jeffrey had impressive advertising-sales-management experience in print media and the Internet, says Ms. Benedict. But his resume did a lackluster job of showcasing his work history and accomplishments.

"He wasn't marketing himself on paper," Ms. Benedict says.

As Ms. Benedict does with all her clients, she asked Jeffrey to answer written questions about his career, and then they talked about his experiences, accomplishments, the level he was at and where he wanted to be. In all, Jeffrey spent about five hours with Ms. Benedict, including the time on the questionnaire. The fee for her work, which included a cover letter, was $595.

The challenge: The resume Jeffrey had written didn't reflect his executive-level status. For example, the career summary started with his description as a "highly effective Sales/Sales Management professional," a term that could apply to someone of lower rank. It also included such platitudes as "Loyalty, honesty and hard work are great assets."

"For the level and salary he was looking for, he came off much too junior," Ms. Benedict says.

The document was also thin on details about his accomplishments. The job descriptions were limited to expected responsibilities. They failed to gauge the impact of his performance and reflect his promotions and growth in past positions.

Other blunders stood out to Ms. Benedict:

The fix: Ms. Benedict reviewed his original resume, questionnaire and notes from her interview with him to identify his skills and accomplishments. She put these in the summary at the top of the document. Then she selected work experiences that best support those claims.

"I look for strengths I can substantiate. I want clients to be happy with the document, but, ultimately, I'm trying to impress the reader," Ms. Benedict says.

Jeffrey's revised resume has an entirely new look and a lot more information. Centering his name and contact information on two lines eliminates the empty space and creates a more polished presentation while still allowing them to stand out. The Times Roman font is easy on the eye and puts more text on each page.

The executive position he's applying to is clearly stated at the top. In thesummary, the platitudes were replaced with specific skills that show his breadth of experience and point to bottom-line results.

The professional experience section is more tightly organized. Under each company's name and location, there are short company descriptions and Web addresses, when available. Under each job title, Jeffrey's experience is described in bulleted summaries and, below them, "Accomplishments" elaborate on his successes. When possible, the results of his work are expressed in numeric terms. For example: "Increased agency revenue 25% through implementation of traditional services & Web to print conversion."

As for verb tenses, current employment is described in the present tense, except for his accomplishments, because they have already taken place. Prior experience is described in the past tense, Ms. Benedict says.

To show that Jeffrey received promotions along the way, the new resume lists three jobs descriptions and accomplishments under one company where he worked between 1993 and 1997.

"You want to show you are growing and being promoted," says Ms. Benedict.

At the end of the resume, Advanced Training was added to the Education section to highlight the well-known sales-training seminars Jeffrey attended.

The result: After two months of circulating his revised resume, he had two offers. He chose an advertising-sales director post at a magazine and Web site. "So far, so good," he says, referring to his new position.

What do you think of this Resume Makeover? Share your critique with other readers on the CareerJournal discussion board .

-- Ms. Devlin is a free-lance writer in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Article from – November 2005