For Candidates: Resume Primer

A resume is one of the most critical and useful tools available to market your professional talents. A resume is your first point of contact for search, industry and business professionals. It is a powerful communicator on your behalf. Prior to ever meeting you, your resume permits an interviewer or employer to gain a sense of you that is professional, informative and often subjective.

Resumes are valuable because they speak to who you are, what skills you have to offer and how you wish to be perceived in the marketplace. To the extent that a resume can do this well is a function of the time, effort and thoughtfulness you put into it. The time invested crafting your resume will best support your key career experiences, skill set and desirability. The alternative is to present a hasty and pale chronological work history or a lengthy inconsequential resume too painful to read or consider.

Resume primer for candidates

Resume Formatting

Formatting is to a resume as clothing is to an interview – the first glance initiates the introduction. The general layout and appearance of your resume should make sense to the reader. Choose a font type and size that is attractive and easy to read.

Begin at the top of the first page with your name and list your contact information that is permissible to reach you: personal mobile phone, personal email, location where you are physically present (important given the prevalence of remote/hybrid work models).

A note about email: If you don’t currently have an email address, please get one.  Do not use someone else’s email address.  When choosing an email address please consider a professional sounding email (example: rather than something professionally inappropriate or cute (example:

Your work experience or career history section should comprise the bulk of your resume and it is the most important part.  List your positions in reverse chronological order.  Include the following information and consider using this format example:

2000 to Present

Company Name and Location

Position Title

Spend time thinking about your responsibilities in this job.  Five or six key bullet points should follow below your title.  It is advisable to lead with:

  • Assets or budget size under your management
  • Bottom-line responsibilities of the job
  • Number of direct reports or individuals under your supervision

Key accomplishment bullet points may follow. Include quantitative information whenever possible, i.e., key metrics of outcomes achieved. If there is a percentage increase, please indicate the base number, i.e., a 50% increase off a base of $1M is different from a 50% increase off a base of $10M.

Be sure to list each of the jobs you have held since college. The early years of an active career may not require much detail but we recommend including each position and the dates under the heading Prior Relevant Experience. Recruiters in particular are interested in transitions and will likely question omissions during your screening interview. It helps us build a context for your work experience and prepare us for client inquiries.

The career history section should be followed by an education section. Include the name of the institution(s) and its location, your degree, and the year of completion:

Date of Graduation

College or University, City, State

Degree awarded

You may also include a list of relevant Professional Affiliations and Community Service.

Other Tips

  • Check the document for typos. There are few things more effective at derailing the reader than a typo. They are easy to make and easy to correct before submitting the resume.
  • Bold the company’s name and the dates you were employed.
  • Include your name and page number in the footnote of your resume (using the same but smaller font as in the body).
  • One page resumes are good but may be too abbreviated for your purposes. Typically, by the time you are involved in an executive search with a search firm, you likely have the professional experience for two or more pages.
  • A deal sheet of any length and/or other exhibits is fine. This is particularly applicable for fundraising executives with the annual amounts of dollars raised and notable accomplishments, i.e., capital campaigns completed or major planned gifts, etc.
  • Do not include a photograph on your resume. It is more distracting than informing.
  • Pro forma comments such as “references available upon request” are not necessary and simply take up space.
  • Send your resume in Word, not Adobe, but check to make sure all changes are accepted and the tracking is turned off or else we might see your edits.
  • Individual tastes may include a brief line listing personal interests. This option is good; it may help you make a connection.