Resume best practice
Updated: Jun 23
This is post #2 and today’s topic is on some commonly asked questions related to resumes!
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed reading advice columns and I follow a few that are focused on workplace issues, such as Ask a Manager and The New York Times “Work Friend.” I thought it would be an interesting format to respond to a couple of questions I received recently after hosting a webinar on “Reengineer your resume to get the job you want.” We had a super engaged group on the webinar who asked many questions. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to answer them all, so here is my attempt to address a few of them, in a series of three short posts.
Do you believe there is bias based on Anglo-Saxon name vs something more ethnic sounding? – G.K. The short answer is yes. Multiple studies have been conducted over the years that confirm this—too many to list here.
The bad news is that everyone has implicit biases that they don’t recognize or acknowledge -- even hiring managers and recruiters. That includes making judgements about a candidate based on what their name looks or sounds like. This could include things like a manager assuming a candidate doesn’t have the legal right to work in that country/state based on their name, or making assumptions about religion, values or work ethic. Needless to say, these assumptions can be the death knell for a candidate who may have an ethnic-sounding name.
So what can you do about it? Unfortunately, not a lot. You can try using only a single initial to replace your first or last name or use a nickname or middle name. But this is entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Some websites even recommend legally changing your name to make it sound more Western. I am not advocating this, but just flagging it as an option. You can also target companies that specifically tout their diversity and inclusion policies and truly walk the talk on their equal opportunity hiring practices.
Do you write more on more recent previous jobs than the ones that say 5 years ago? -S. Yes! Unless you’ve been in your current role for less than a year (in which case, why are you looking to leave already? Let’s chat!). Generally, I recommend having 6-8 bullet points for your current role, 4-6 bullet points for your previous role and 2-3 bullet points for roles in the early part of your career.
Any tips on how to show acquisitions, because business names change which can look good for the next position but really it’s based on the same company? – G.K. An easy way to show acquisitions on a resume is to include the name of the prior company in parenthesis with the words “formerly” or “née” next to the name of the new company. So it would look like this:
ABC company (formerly XYZ company) ABC company (née XYZ company)
If you have essentially worked with the same company throughout your entire career while the company has undergone multiple acquisitions, I recommend that the first line of your Experience section of your resume lists the current name of the company, next to your dates of employment for your entire tenure at the company. For example, your resume could look like this:
ABC company (formerly XYZ company) Nov 2000 to present XYZ company (née DEF Holdings) Oct 2012 to present DEF Holdings (formerly GHI Group) Apr 2008 to Oct 2012 GHI Group Nov 2000 to Apr 2008
Best of luck G.K. and S.!
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Renee Conklin is a career coach and HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. Check out more of her articles on LinkedIn!
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