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Resume Structure: Why The Reverse Pyramid Works

Resume Structure: Why The Reverse Pyramid Works

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Do you have a friend who is stuck in history? How many times must we endure the stories of their glory days? Even Bruce Springsteen sang a song about this. Your resume is not the place to re-live those long-ago glory days.

How To Structure Your Resume

The resume is a strategically crafted marketing document with an emphasis on your more recent and relevant accomplishments. Hey, it’s great that you were the top salesperson 18 years ago, but what have you done lately?

The Structure

Picture an upside down pyramid when you create your resume. You should include more information about your current job. As you go back in history, less information is needed. So, you may only have two to three lines of information about your first position. But, how much of your career history should be shown? For almost all candidates ten to fifteen years of experience is the appropriate amount to show on a resume.

Why This Structure Is Effective

Hiring employers and recruiters are most interested in your most recent and most relevant experience because that is the best indicator of your ability to succeed in the position for which they are recruiting. Recent accomplishments are a predictor of future success. There is less interest in what you may have done many years ago.

The Risk Of Focusing On The Distant Past

If you have very few accomplishments in your current and most recent job, yet you have several major accomplishments from ten, fifteen, or more years ago that is a problem. It signals the hiring employer that your best days may be in the past. You may have lost some steam along the way and are no longer performing at your peak. It can also raise concerns over why you have been under-achieving in recent years.

How To Build The Reverse Pyramid

If your resume is caught in the past with few glowing reports from recent years, you can fix it.  You need to build the reverse pyramid.  Take time to delve into your current job and those from the most recent five years.  Here are just a few questions that you can ask yourself.  Use this new data to build your reverse pyramid.

  • Have you led a major project? What was the dollar value of that project? What was result of the project? How did it impact the company’s bottom line?
  • What problems have you solved? What was the challenge? What action did you plan/take?  What was the result? Monetize that result.
  • What improvements have you made? What was the situation before? What action did you take? How did you improve the process and what was the ultimate result in terms of cost savings, quality improvements, efficiency gains, and an increase in revenue?
  • Did you train or mentor staff? How did that impact the company?

Step into current times and boldly share your top accomplishments on your resume. Using the reverse pyramid technique and minimizing highlights from the glory days will provide a strong case as to why you are a strong candidate. Use these tips to structure your resume and watch your interview rate soar.


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Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write, is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques. She helps clients obtain highly desired interviews for competitive positions.