Posted: by HRNasty in Resume Writing, What HR Really Thinks, What Recruiters Really Think

Job resume format

Is your resume creeping out your intended reader and causing them to run away?

Job resume format

How you format your job resume is the most critical step when it comes to your job search. Yes, how you dress in job interview matters, as does how you answer job interview questions. The job search starts mentally and emotionally with the creation of our resume. How we format our resume will absolutely determine whether our document will generate a call back or be sent to the round file for recycle so unfortunately. For many of us, this is also where the job search ends. In today’s post we explain how candidates with a few years of experience should be thinking about their formatting their job resume. If you have applied to jobs with your resume multiple times and not heard back from the hiring company, todays post discusses the root cause of the silence.

I see two very common job resume formats that will consistently disqualify a candidate. If your resume has either of these to formats, I would recommend making an adjustment. The two most common job resume format mistakes I see are,

  1. Listing the same or similar accomplishment(s) more than once under different companies and different positions.
  2. Listing an equal number of accomplishments for the most recent experience, as we listed in a position that was held 10 – 15 years ago. If you have 7 bullet points under your most recent experience, we don’t want to have 7 bullets points listed under the experience from 15 years ago.

1st resume format mistake

The most common resume mistake I see when it comes to job resume format, is the listing of the same or similar accomplishment more than once. Candidate lists accomplishment “X” from a position early in their career and then lists a very similar accomplishment, under experience later in the career. The repeat of the accomplishment is a waste of resume space.

HRNasty mandatory dating analogy.

Girl is hanging out with Boy for such a period of time that she is longing to hear the three magical words. Girls know what I mean and guys are wondering “WTF words is he talking about now?” Then one day, on a romantic picnic with birds chirping and a double rainbow, she hears the three words. Boy in a moment of weakness whispers, “I love you”. Girl is ecstatic and emotional. Of course Boy is hoping to get lucky right there on the picnic blanket. Yes, guys are so romantic. And then she hears the same three words again, and again and again things start to go down hill.

Boy: “I love you”.

Girl is thinking: “Finally, he said it, he committed”.

Boy: “I love you”.

Girl is thinking: “Ohhh, he really does love me”. “I love you too”.

Boy: “I really love you”.

Girl is thinking: “Yeah, I get it, I heard you”.

Boy: “You are amazing, I love you”.

Girl is thinking: “You are creeping me out and ruining the moment”.

Boy says: “I lov. . . .”.

Girl: pushes Boy away before he can finish and runs off sobbing.

 If you list an accomplishment on your resume over and over, instead of pushing your resume aside and running away, recruiters just push your resume aside.

Regular readers will recognize the HRNasty mentality. We want to use our valuable resume real estate resume efficiently. Listing the same accomplishment over and over is a waste of space. 

If we do list an accomplishment more than once, a good practice is to list your accomplishment with different context and to give it a different look. Is it plagiarism when you copy your own work and list it on the same document?

2nd resume format mistake

Which leads me to the second commonly made mistake I see on a resume. Listing “X” number of accomplishments in our most recent experience and listing the same number of accomplishment under the experience that is 10 years old. This job resume format is overwhelming and leaves the reader with the wrong impression.

Over the course of a 10 to 15 year career, we have worked with a number of different companies, held a number of different positions and multiple titles. We show career progression by listing our job history in chronological order. Our most recent experience is listed the top and our oldest experience is listed at the bottom.

Although what we were doing professionally 10 years ago may be relevant to what we want to do today, these 10 year old accomplishment don’t tie in directly to the position of interest. Over the course of the past 10 years, our skill sets have advanced. Hopefully, what we are interested in doing today takes more skill, more scale, or more drive than what we were doing 10 years ago. The requirements for the job we are applying for today should be more sophisticated than the positions we were applying to 10 years ago. The accomplishment from yesteryear just won’t prove you are qualified to do a job requiring your 10 plus years of experience.

When listing a position we held 10 years ago, in most cases, that experience should have fewer accomplishments than our most recent experience. Lets say that over the course of our 15-year career, we held 4 different positions. Our first job was in our industry of interest but probably entry level. Although related, these accomplishments our junior to our current skill set and should be removed.  

One way to create the illusion and reinforce career progression is by listing more accomplishments with our most recent experience (the experience we will be hired for) and listing fewer accomplishments with our older experience. This older experience shows you have been in the discipline for a number of years, but the accomplishments are probably junior to the current skill set and outdated. Below is an example of how to give the illusion of job progression. Notice how our list of accomplishments increases over time, giving the illusion that we are doing more now than we were in the past. It isn’t that we accomplished less, we just didn’t accomplish as much that is directly related to the current job of interest. With this format, we are providing the subconscious example that we have taken on more and more responsibility over time and our career has progressed. With this format, we are efficiently using the space available to deliver more information that is directly related to the job of interest.  

Below is the resume of a candidate that is applying for a position of Chief Editor at a large book publisher. Notice the resume format used:



Acme Publishing                                                                              2011 – present                                          

Acme Publishing is a Fortune 500 online publisher of books, magazines and niche online eBooks.

Chief Editor

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3
  • Accomplishment 4
  • Accomplishment 5
  • Accomplishment 6


F.W.E Editing Service                                                                       2007 – 2009                                                                                                           

FWE Editing is a boutique editing service specializing in publishers in Food, Wine, and the
Entertainment industry. Notable clients include celebrity chefs and Zagat reviewed restaurants.

Assistant to Chief Editor

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3
  • Accomplishment 4                                                                     2004 – 2007                                                                                                                                  in an online recipe site for foodies to exchange recipes with a readership of 3 million registered members localized in 15 different countries.

Copy Editor

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3


Springfield Gazette                                                                            1999 – 2004                                      

The Springfield Gazette is a city newspaper of with a circulation of 10,000.

Assistant to the Junior Copy Editor

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2



BA English and Writing
School of Hard Knocks                                                                                             1999                                                            


The resume format above shows career progression 2 ways.  The first is with the increase in job titles, the second is through the illusion created via the number of bullets in each job.  Accomplishments from the Springfield Gazette as the Assistant to Junior Copy Editor and TheBestReceipies as the copy editor are probably not answering any bullets in the job description requiring 10 – 15 years of experience. We do want to list these two positions so we can show that we have a passion for publishing and have been in the industry for a number of years. This is useful when the job description looks for 15 years of industry experience.

If earlier experience is completely unrelated or too junior to the job of interest, there is no law that says you are required to include all experience. As a person that reviews resumes, I am more inclined to keep reading a resume where a candidate lists the specific experience I am looking for versus accomplishments more suitable for a junior role.  Let me know in the comments below if you are going to make any adjustments to your resume after reading this post.    

See you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • mustonen

    Great stuff. I’m currently struggling with how to appropriately list multiple positions within the same company. I’ve been there 8 years, but in those 8 years I’ve held just as many job titles as I’ve rapidly climbed the old ladder. I’ve cut that down to 4 (EVP, SVP, VP, and then miscellaneous management roles), and I have it indented below the main experience, i.e.:
    ABC Company — 2008-2016.

    EVP/COO — 2014-2016

    SVP — 2013-2014 …..

    How do I communicate that I’ve had 7 years of project and change management experience, but only 3 years of experience with managing marketing initiatives, without being repetitive? Would I be better served by talking about my accomplishments and responsibilities at ABC all in one place, and just leave it at most recent position held?


    • Mustonen,
      Sounds like you have held a number of executive level positions. I am happy to start a dialogue on this topic because I don’t think I have enough information to answer this question and want to make sure we get it right, or in the least, to a place where you have confidence.

      Is the role you are looking for specifically looking for “managing marketing initiative” experience? Or is this something you want to list.

      A few thoughts and a number of assumptions. Generally speaking at this level, I like to tailor the resume to the specific role you are interested in. As EVP, SVP, and VP, you have had to do a LOT of different things. Within each role there were multiple skill sets that were required. The job you are looking for will be pretty specific at this level. It will say “we are looking for X level executive that has X, Y, and Z” EG:1. VP of Sales to build a new team and generate new sales or 2. VP of Sales to expand to multiple countries and open up new offices OR, 3.VP of Sales to bring big data expertise to the job. All of the positions will require VP level experience, but there is usually something specific within the skill set they are looking for.

      List as many roles as you can where as in Example number 1, accomplishments included “building a new team, and / or, generating new sales and everything that comes with that. So, it may be that while you were building a new team, you had to:

      -assess team and make staff changes
      -hired new sales people and added a few account managers
      -implement new CMS like Salesforce
      -impart new process and establish new metrics

      The point is, that regardless of the job, title or position you held, try to focus on listing the skills that the new position is looking for, and most importantly, list the skills at scale. We don’t just want to say, “responsible for sales team”, we want to say, responsible for 20 sales people, 15 account managers and revenue of 5M.

      Hopefully this is making sense, and if not, feel free to email me directly. I would like to make sure I am answering your question.

      Thanks for checking out the site!