Introduction, job experience, education, personal interests….how much space should you allocate to each section?

My suggestion is to be practical.

If you have 15+years of experience, watch how much detail you give on the positions that are, for example,  8+ years old.  While what you did 8+years ago has directly or indirectly contributed to where you are today, it does not warrant much detail on your CV. If the interviewer wants the detail they will ask you about it in an interview. What I do want to know is what you have been doing most recently and how you have been successful at itc. How current are you in your area of expertise? If you programmed in .net 7 years ago or managed a Sales team 10 years ago, but not since, I am not likely to be considering you for either thing today since you have been out of that specific area for too long.

Some people have the same space allocated to a position they held for 4 years and one they held for 18 months. I don’t recommend this. We will accomplish more in 4 years than in 18 months, so having the same about of space allocated to each, in my opinion, is inappropriate.

Take a look at your CV. Look at how much space is allocated to each section and determine if it makes sense. The reader is not going to take a ruler and check, but to get the most out of your document and help you secure a response from the recruiter/employer, give them the information that matters most based on what they are looking for today.


LinkedIn is huge. There is simply no other way to say it. People are connected and have access to an infinite number of resources. So while people can certainly decide for themselves how and if they use LinkedIn, it should be noted that people who do not, make themselves (in my opinion) look a little out of touch professionally. I recently scheduled a lunch meeting with a candidate. He asked me how he would know who I was when he arrived. I suggested he look me up on LinkedIn, which has my photo.

He thought that was a good idea.

I thought that was obvious.

A resume is the review of your professional experience and accomplishments. Whether you write/update it yourself or engage one of the many talented resume writers out there, you will have work to do up front.

Included in your resume should be all of your major accomplishments. Everything mentioned should have an appropriate a ‘so what’ attached to it; if the reader is going to read it, it should be worth their while;

  • Did you increase revenues? If so, how?
  • Cut costs? How?
  • Deliver training using a new technique which allowed the sales team could get out on the road with better knowledge, faster? There is a difference between that and stating that you delivered training to the sales team, which doesn’t really leave the reader with a ‘so what’.

When I tell people I work in Executive Search, I hear a fair bit of criticism about people in the profession. Essentially, I hear that service to clients (the employers) is average at best, and the interaction with the candidates, even those who are short listed for an opportunity, is below average. I am always quite surprised seeing that this is a ‘people’ business; I assume anyone in this profession is above average in the ‘interacting with people’ department, which should coincide with above average customer service. Apparently this is not always the case.

As an employer, when selecting a search firm, find one that has the experience and ability to successfully complete your mandate, but also one that reflects your company culture. If it is important to you that each applicant, regardless how far they get in the process, is treated the same, for example a proper acknowledgement after submitting a resume, then make sure this is something your chosen search firm does. Your reputation in the market place will be impacted by the search process. Several capable candidates will be introduced to your company via the search firm, who is essentially the front line for you throughout the process. They need to represent you appropriately.

As a candidate, you don’t have as much luxury in deciding which firms to work with if you are searching for an opportunity. Essentially, you will deal with whichever firm has the mandate. This can be difficult as you may not have a pre-existing relationship with the firm and as such cannot get great response from them, including something simple like whether or not you are being considered for the position. However it is not necessary to wait to build a relationship with a search firm – you can do so when you are gainfully employed and happy with your work. This way, there is no pressure; you are just introducing yourself, letting them know what you do and getting your resume on file. Two good things can come of this. First, they may have an incredible opportunity with which they can approach you and second, once they know you, and what you do, they can offer you some of the superstars that come their way who may be an excellent fit for your company.

Whether you are the employer or the candidate, it is ideal to get comfortable with the right search firm(s). If the fit doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t. There are plenty out there. Find the one(s) that work for you.

I have had several mentors over the course of my professional career. Some formal, some informal, but in all cases, their input was valuable and appreciated. Having a good mentor is like a gift; you have someone who cares about you and your success. Someone who will listen to all sides of the story and help you determine the best course of action. And best of all, a mentor will not benefit from your actions/decisions. Their win is watching you succeed. So whether you take the promotion, sign the contract, hire the terrific new graduate or not, they are the partial party to help you see all the angles.

Some people have a mentor at the office and some have a mentor outside the office. Both are valuable. A mentor within the office knows the detail of the office dynamics…the players, the politics. They can be helpful when looking for guidance within the company. A mentor outside the office is beneficial when you want someone, who, regardless of company or position you have, is there for you to discuss your career, progress, options, etc.

Whether inside or outside the office, if you are looking for ongoing career development, help and feedback from a neutral party, find a mentor. Find someone who has been where you are trying to go and who has a great track record. It will be well worth your while.

Employers work with recruiters essentially by handing-off a specific assignment to find new talent. What the employer may not realize is the recruiter may be sub-contracting the search to yet another recruiter. Does this matter? It may well matter! For starters, it is key for the recruiter to have a thorough understanding of the position. Not a high level understanding -a thorough understanding. Each time a recruiter sub-contracts there is a risk that the level of understanding of the position is going to be diluted. In fact, it is almost a guarantee that this will happen. What is the effect? The recruiters are searching for candidates who may or may not be the right fit. And for every candidate that is not the right fit, the employer is losing valuable time in getting the right candidate on board.

When selecting a search firm, employers should ask specifically whether or not the recruiter sub-contracts searches and if they do, what role the lead recruiter has in the process. Searches can go on unnecessarily long simply because the recruiters do not have the right understanding of the role and they are entertaining the candidacy of the wrong candidates, which is a waste of time for everyone. Working with a recruiter who doses the recruiting themselves or within their office may ultimately be a much cheaper and more effective choice.

As soon as I receive a resume, I go to the last page and look for personal interests. I guess it’s because I am trying to get a glimpse in to this person’s life outside the office. Given I like to be very transparent, I will tell you that if I see someone has the same hobbies/interests as I do, I am going to have a greater interest in potentially speaking to that person.

I know there are various opinions at to whether or not your personal interests should be listed on your resume. In my opinion, it’s simple; if there is a chance to connect to your reader then go for it! Any opportunity to connect with your reader is good – very good! I read an article which advised against listing personal interests. In the article, it said that prospective employers may think the candidate has too much going on outside the office and may not be able to give 120% on the job. I call bluff. I would like to speak with the HR leader or hiring manager that is afraid their employees have a life outside the office and hear what they think is reasonable…I suspect it would be a short discussion.

I suggest you list your personal interests on your resume. It helps define who you are and there is a chance you will have something in common with the person who is deciding whether or not to give you a chance for a potential great opportunity. I can’t think of any downside…..can you?