Paragraphs in resumes

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Remnantofisrael
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Paragraphs in resumes

Postby Remnantofisrael » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:35 pm

I understand the common belief that using paragraphs under previous work experience is generally frowned upon by TLSers at least. However, I am curious how hard and fast this "rule" of only using bullets is.

If anyone has ever read an executive resume, they'll see that the most common format does include a paragraph form, with the paragraph describing the job and the subsequent bullets describing particular successes.

My concern here is that I am 7 years out of college and have some pretty solid work experience including upper management and President / CEO responsibilities in a start-up. On the contrary, I don't have much in the way of scholastic awards etc.

I wouldn't suggest using paragraphs for a job like, "Business Analyst" or "burger flipper", but for something professional and executive, would it still be frowned upon?

legal10101
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby legal10101 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:42 pm

I have been in the workforce for 8 year. I am not using a paragraph for every job, but for my current position, I am. I am focusing on health law in my legal studies, and I feel a paragraph to give a snapshot of what I do is warranted.

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fatduck
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby fatduck » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:45 pm

In my opinion, keeping in mind that my resume is closer to yours than a typical applicant's, it's a good idea to structure your resume in the way that most highlights your strengths. I personally have some significant awards so I stuck to a bullet-point/subsection format, but if I were banking heavily on my work experience I would not hesitate to emphasize it through an expanded description of each position.

bdubs
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby bdubs » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:03 pm

Remnantofisrael wrote:I understand the common belief that using paragraphs under previous work experience is generally frowned upon by TLSers at least. However, I am curious how hard and fast this "rule" of only using bullets is.

If anyone has ever read an executive resume, they'll see that the most common format does include a paragraph form, with the paragraph describing the job and the subsequent bullets describing particular successes.

My concern here is that I am 7 years out of college and have some pretty solid work experience including upper management and President / CEO responsibilities in a start-up. On the contrary, I don't have much in the way of scholastic awards etc.

I wouldn't suggest using paragraphs for a job like, "Business Analyst" or "burger flipper", but for something professional and executive, would it still be frowned upon?


Won't the successes shed light on your job functions? What is the paragraph going to describe?

r6_philly
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:35 am

^ agree with above

I hate paragraphs, hating reading paragraphs in resumes other than the objective/executive summary.

I use more bullets when I need to highlight more things. I held the same position for 8 years and grew the business may folds but I managed to cut down to 5 bullets that highlighted everything. I chose to use numbers for bigger impact, when you list/describe too much people tend to not read it all.

Remember the 1000's of PS they have to read, plus the 2000 addenda, they may just be scanning for company and job title for something that catches the eye, so make it easy for them by use bullets to highlight.

Don't you think the following is better than paragraph could be? Remember to highlight results rather than describing duties.
- grew revenue 300% to 5 mil in 4 years
- supervised 45 employs and 4 managers
- handled 200 accounts with $2 mil monthly payable

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fatduck
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby fatduck » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:42 am

r6_philly wrote:Remember to highlight results rather than describing duties


This advice trumps all, and I agree that brevity is probably best when you're talking about adcomms reading resume after resume after resume...

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Hawkeye Pierce
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby Hawkeye Pierce » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:51 am

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Last edited by Hawkeye Pierce on Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Renzo
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby Renzo » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:53 am

Paragraphs of sentence fragments is a common and accepted format.

r6_philly
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:02 am

Renzo wrote:Paragraphs of sentence fragments is a common and accepted format.


Hard on the eyes when you have to read many resumes. Bullets tell you where to focus.

mst
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby mst » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:19 am

Just use your judgement. Common knowledge says to use bullets. I'm choosing to use paragraph form because of the following:

-I have a lot of stuff on my resume and paragraph form actually makes it shorter page-wise.
-Some of my jobs and positions encompassed broad work in different aspects and areas, as opposed to doing specific work in 1-3 areas. This is easier to translate over via paragraphs... and by paragraphs I mean "Position - Verb Action, Verb Action, and verb action." That's it.
-I don't get an interview with these folks. I haven't been doing just 1 or 2 major things for the last few years, so translating my experiences over via personal statement is not a good option for me. Thus, I'm not going to shaft myself and break down my experiences into 1 page of bullet points. It just doesn't make sense in my case.


I've had several prelaw advisers look it over and nobody has mentioned the paragraphs. It doesn't seem to be enough of an issue for me to risk throwing out so much information (that I find essential to understanding what I've been doing and who I am).

motiontodismiss
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby motiontodismiss » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:36 am

I was under the impression that prose is absolutely forbidden on resumes.

And besides, given that adcoms read 5,000+ resumes PER CYCLE, I'd think they'd appreciate anything that makes it easier on their eyes (more blank space, bigger font, whatever).

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby CGI Fridays » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:02 am

r6_philly wrote:
Renzo wrote:Paragraphs of sentence fragments is a common and accepted format.


Hard on the eyes when you have to read many resumes. Bullets tell you where to focus.


You're supposed to read the whole thing. Kinda like PS' & DS'.

OP, if you can't comfortably make bullets work without sacrificing valuable info or getting dragged by a bajillion bullets into a silly looking resume, do sentence fragment "paragraphs." Just do it.

Crimson
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby Crimson » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:23 am

My opinion -- and that is the best I can offer -- is that there is no room for error on your resume. It should be the most professional outline of your activities in your admissions packet. That being said, I dont think there are hard and fast rules on law school resumes other than making it professional, generally in-keeping with the current resume norms, and error free. Using a bullet vs. a paragraph is not a sufficient formatting error, again in my opinion.

Look at your own resume objectively. Your task is to responsibly fill the resume with professionalism and content. Adcoms surely have in mind that the formating will be adjusted during a (likely) mandatory briefing during your education.

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ahduth
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby ahduth » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:29 am

I would have to assume paragraphs would be stronger in your case, since you need to explain something more fully. This is your only chance to tell them about this. Dean Perry essentially said, go into as much detail as you need and use as much space as you want. It is not a business resume and should not be treated as such.

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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:54 am

CGI Fridays wrote:
r6_philly wrote:
Renzo wrote:Paragraphs of sentence fragments is a common and accepted format.


Hard on the eyes when you have to read many resumes. Bullets tell you where to focus.


You're supposed to read the whole thing. Kinda like PS' & DS'.

OP, if you can't comfortably make bullets work without sacrificing valuable info or getting dragged by a bajillion bullets into a silly looking resume, do sentence fragment "paragraphs." Just do it.


That's why they make PS/DS double spaced and 12 point font - it's easier on the eyes so they can read the whole thing (and controlling the word count).

And what's with this "you are supposed to" idea? If you put a page in my hand and give me 30 seconds to read it, how do you make sure that "I am supposed to read it all"? Will you quiz me later? Make it easy on the readers, maybe they scan your resume and put it right down, defeating the purpose of you putting anything on there.

Control your bullets too, sometimes you just have to cut out somethings. It's like writing your PS, 2 pages are not a lot, you choose what you want to keep. Putting 20 things on a resume for a position, no matter what format, isn't going to ensure anyone's going to read it. It's a job, you have 1, maybe 2 primary functions, you don't need to talk about the 20 other things you have to do infrequently, tell us about your primary functions. Only.

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby CGI Fridays » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:08 pm

r6_philly wrote:That's why they make PS/DS double spaced and 12 point font - it's easier on the eyes so they can read the whole thing (and controlling the word count).


touche

r6_philly wrote:And what's with this "you are supposed to" idea? If you put a page in my hand and give me 30 seconds to read it, how do you make sure that "I am supposed to read it all"? Will you quiz me later? Make it easy on the readers, maybe they scan your resume and put it right down, defeating the purpose of you putting anything on there.


They want a full picture, whereas employers just want an easy skim.
More than one person will be reading the resume, & I'd rather run the risk of their impatience than leave out pertinent info.

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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby Renzo » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:50 pm

r6_philly wrote:It's a job, you have 1, maybe 2 primary functions, you don't need to talk about the 20 other things you have to do infrequently, tell us about your primary functions. Only.

This is quite possibly the worst resume advice I've ever read. If I had worked as a Sandwich Artist at Subway, I wouldn't mention a thing about my main duty of putting ham in bread, but I damn sure would mention that one time that I solved a big problem for my boss, even if it had nothing to do with my "primary functions"

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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:54 pm

Renzo wrote:
r6_philly wrote:It's a job, you have 1, maybe 2 primary functions, you don't need to talk about the 20 other things you have to do infrequently, tell us about your primary functions. Only.

This is quite possibly the worst resume advice I've ever read. If I had worked as a Sandwich Artist at Subway, I wouldn't mention a thing about my main duty of putting ham in bread, but I damn sure would mention that one time that I solved a big problem for my boss, even if it had nothing to do with my "primary functions"


Your primary function is to make sandwiches. So you are going to write a paragraph about doing something that you weren't hired to do? By the way this is the most horrible example you could possibly come up with, because if you put any title under the business name "Subway" people will know that you put meat in bread for a living.

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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby Renzo » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:05 pm

r6_philly wrote:
Renzo wrote:
r6_philly wrote:It's a job, you have 1, maybe 2 primary functions, you don't need to talk about the 20 other things you have to do infrequently, tell us about your primary functions. Only.

This is quite possibly the worst resume advice I've ever read. If I had worked as a Sandwich Artist at Subway, I wouldn't mention a thing about my main duty of putting ham in bread, but I damn sure would mention that one time that I solved a big problem for my boss, even if it had nothing to do with my "primary functions"


Your primary function is to make sandwiches. So you are going to write a paragraph about doing something that you weren't hired to do? By the way this is the most horrible example you could possibly come up with, because if you put any title under the business name "Subway" people will know that you put meat in bread for a living.

Your resume is a sales pitch, not a historical archive. What you put in it should be your shining best moments, that prove you have the skills that the reader is looking for. If you don't like Subway, I can come up with another example:
XYZ Corp.
Technician, May 1902- Aug. 1928

* Lead employee task force on ______
* Initiated a quality improvement project that resulted in $500,000 in cost savings


You know what I would never put in there:
* put smaller boxes inside bigger boxes on an assembly line for 10 hours a day

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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:18 pm

Ok since you are serious

Technicians don't lead improvement projects, HR managers knows what game you play
Technicians also don't quantify revenue improvements. No one wants to hire a technician who is eyeing a management job. If you over qualify they feel your job satisfaction level will be low leading to turnover or low morale. If you are too ambitious you won't get along with your team members.

Your advice is valid only for management/executive level jobs, that's because they don't have solid descriptions, they are strategic positions.

It also depend on the description, if you are applying for a technician position you better be focusing on your technician duties. If you are applying for a lead technician duty then you should focus on some strategic abilities while still grounded in what you are supposed to be able to do well.

Actually with your example, a technician should highlight the output... so
- increased boxes packaged per week by 40%
or
- decreased resouces/cost of production by 40%

But you should still remember... what you are highlighting should match your job title. You are going to be paid to do what must do (your primary duties), not the other stuff you could do. All the other stuff are softs.

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ahduth
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby ahduth » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:04 am

CGI Fridays wrote:
r6_philly wrote:And what's with this "you are supposed to" idea? If you put a page in my hand and give me 30 seconds to read it, how do you make sure that "I am supposed to read it all"? Will you quiz me later? Make it easy on the readers, maybe they scan your resume and put it right down, defeating the purpose of you putting anything on there.


They want a full picture, whereas employers just want an easy skim.
More than one person will be reading the resume, & I'd rather run the risk of their impatience than leave out pertinent info.


Damn philly is tenacious on this resume topic. I'm going to quote myself from another thread, because I feel cool like that:

ahduth wrote:Yeah, the one page, two if you have extensive work experience thing is a carryover from business resumes. The same principles don't apply.

1) Business resumes need to be digested in 15 seconds or less. Most people will spend even less time than that actually reading them.

2) Business resumes do not need to go into detail, because once a firm is interested, they will simply meet with you in person.

Neither of these hold true for law school application resumes. Regarding point 1, your resume is part of your application packet, which will be reviewed in detail. They are going to read the entire thing, no matter how long it is. There is an argument for brevity here, in the sense that filling it with meaningless chatter will seem pointless and unprofessional. But if you have something to say, you should say it. Regarding point 2, with only a couple exceptions, they're never going to have a chance to interview you - this is your shot to talk about it.


So this whole put this whole thing back in perspective:

r6_philly wrote:But you should still remember... what you are highlighting should match your job title. You are going to be paid to do what must do (your primary duties), not the other stuff you could do. All the other stuff are softs.


We are applying to law school. We are not going to be paid at all.

To go back to the box example, okay, you were putting boxes in boxes. What the dean of admissions wants to know is, were you thinking about this as you were doing it? What did you get out of it? If you found a way to make the process more efficient, put it in there. It'll be make your application more interesting.

The broader problem here is this conception that it's better if the adcomm can read the resume very quickly, as opposed to having a lot of material to mull over. I believe this is wrong. Someone like the OP, who has "pretty solid work experience including upper management and President / CEO responsibilities in a start-up," wants them to read about it a lot, because it's cool and it makes their application stronger. To repeat, the OP wants the dean to spend as much time as possible reading that resume, learning about the kick ass shit they pulled at their startup box packaging factory. If that means paragraphs, fine, they're going to read it no matter what - they're going to spend as long as it takes to read your application file. It makes them stand out from other candidates who only put " - Managed 10 person startup box packaging factory."

In the end, if you decide to fill your application file with trivial shit, that's bad for you. If it's filled with really neat accomplishments with clever descriptions that are interesting to read...

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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:17 am

:lol: I love resumes :lol:
I read a lot of them, I write a lot of them. Not passionate but opinionated.

I agree with law school != employment, but Renzo made a general statement so I am answering it generally.

Anyway, on the timing of resume reading:

Lets suppose a dean works 40 hours a week and spend 60% reading resumes. (this is probably over estimating but we will stick with it).

Oct - March = 5 month (- Thanksgiving/Christmas, but we will include them)
total work hours on reading files:
5 x 20 (working days) x 8 x 60 (minutes) x 60% = 28,800 minutes
28800 minutes / 8000 files = 3.6 minutes per file.

Lets just say they screen 50% of the file so they don't read at all (over estimating again), then you will have approx. 7 minutes per file.

In 7 minutes, you have to read in order
ASR
Application form (page 1-2)
PS
DS
Addenda
LOR's
Resume

How much time would your resume get? I hope they read my PS/DS/Addenda more carefully.

Edit: forgot LOR's!
Last edited by r6_philly on Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

r6_philly
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby r6_philly » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:19 am

BTW I learn from you guys when we are discussing, so don't think I am arguing just to be arguing, resume is the most important business writing I have ever had to do, so I like taking in other perspectives and being able to argue against it. Ignore me if it gets too much. :)

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby CGI Fridays » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:21 am

ahduth wrote:Someone like the OP, who has "pretty solid work experience including upper management and President / CEO responsibilities in a start-up," wants them to read about it a lot, because it's cool and it makes their application stronger... If that means paragraphs, fine, they're going to read it no matter what - they're going to spend as long as it takes to read your application file. It makes them stand out from other candidates who only put " - Managed 10 person startup box packaging factory."

I would say "/thread" but that never works.

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ahduth
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Re: Paragraphs in resumes

Postby ahduth » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:29 am

I'm having trouble finding hard evidence to support my "long resumes are fine" position. But just to give you a sense for how deeply they look into these things, Dean Zearfoss talks here about actually googling stuff on the resume to find out more about it:

That said, when I have Googled an applicant, it’s almost always for the same purpose: to better understand some work experience that they might have included on their resume. For example, if someone lists a job for a company I’ve never heard of, and I’m just not grasping what they do, I might look up that company on the Internet for a better understanding. That comes up a fair amount -- I probably do that at least once a week.


http://www.admissionsdean.com/researchi ... h-zearfoss

The whole interview is pretty good actually. But the above quote shows that they really do read the resumes. I'm not arguing that you fill it with endless reams of crap about how sweet your TPS reports were. But if you did interesting stuff, and your explanations roll over into additional pages and what not, go for it. I really think they'd rather have the full picture. You're more likely to get rejected because your resume leaves something out, and they feel like there's a gap or an unanswered question, than if you including additional information.

I agree with you that business resumes are different. I'd look at some of these people straight out of schools with all this meaningless crap on their resumes, applying for analyst positions, and I'd be like, "residential assistant." So you bought everyone beer. You want some sort of prize? These law school application packages are different though. They're looking for an all around picture.




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