Is This On Your Resume? It Should Be!

Judi Perkins

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One of the most overlooked ways in using a resume to sell yourself is failing to identify the companies for which you have worked.

"Identify the companies?" You say. “But I do! How could I write my resume and not name the companies?"

Right. But unless you worked for UPS or Macy`s or FedEx, the company name indicates nothing. The majority of job seekers neglect to describe their employers. Even professional résumé writers often fail to provide company descriptions in rewrites for their clients. And the only thing this accomplishes is to leave the interviewer with a big question mark about the context of your skills.

If you are working in a highly specialized, niche industry, perhaps each company knows the others. If you’re searching locally, a prospective employer may be aware of the company you are leaving. But don’t assume so. Your objective is to give an idea of the size of the company, what it does, and who itsmarket is so that the hiring company can place your experience in relation to what they are looking for.

Failure to do this isn’t likely to get you screened out, as some other resume sins will. But part of the science of finding your perfect job is to stand out from the crowd. In the multitudes of job seekers who don’t provide a clue about their employers, a prospective employer will appreciate – and remember - that you did.

And if he chooses to bring you in, he won’t have to clarify the context of your previous experience - possibly finishing the interview on a courtesy basis only. A company description should read something like any of these examples:

  • Publicly held company with 400+ branch offices nationwide selling retail home furnishings
  • Twelve-person consulting company serving primarily the high-end restaurant market within a 100-mile radius
  • Leading manufacturer/distributor of educational toys for children with annual revenues of $1.5m

Unfortunately, inertia is often a big factor in resume screening. Contrary to popular opinion, every word of every resume is not read. First the resume gets a glance. Then it gets a skim. Then it gets a more detailed read. But every step is contingent upon the reader finding a reason to go the next one. Here’s the truth: most hiring authorities screen out rather than screen in. Especially if they’re overwhelmed with resume responses.

    This means:
  • if your resume looks like it needs to be deciphered – you’re out
  • if they don’t see what they are looking for in a glance - you’re out
  • if they don’t have all the information they need to know –you’re iffy

If you’re seeking something different, for instance a change from small to large or public to private, place the corresponding adjective in your objective, and briefly explain your reason in your cover letter. Eliminate the objection and pessimism before it arises by explaining the difference between where you’ve been and what you’re looking for – and putting it in a positive light, one that’s advantageous to the company, if you can.

Describing your previous employers is only one of easily a dozen ways to ensure your resume is read. Your resume is a screening tool, not only for the company, but for you. It’s the point man on your job search. It needs to screen you in for the opportunities you are targeting, and it needs to do that by being read, not ignored. If you want to get in the door, your resume is the only way to open it.


Judi Perkins has been a search consultant for 25 years in both the contingency and retained market, with a short stint in the temporary and local permanent placement markets. She has owned her own firm and successfully assisted numerous repeat clients in hiring all levels of management. She is a Career Expert and Forum Moderator with . To sign up for her newsletter and learn thousands of powerful concepts to find your perfect job go to .


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