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Career Tips 2 - Resumes
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Resumes



This is a critical but the most misunderstood element of the job search process. Everyone and their uncle (and me) is ready to give you advice about a proper resume, including established myths about what works and does not.

First, the most important question is ďWhat is the resume supposed to achieve?Ē The answer is that the reader of your resume should want to pick up the phone right there and then and call you. The minute that the resume does not elicit that reaction and gets put aside, your chances of having it acted upon have gone down by 90%

So, how is this achieved? Obviously, you have to have the right skills and experience for the position, or fairly close to it.

I am often asked what the most important elements in a resume are. The answer is: Readability

People are busy, they donít read, and they scan. If your resume is not easily read, it serves you poorly. If itís not well laid out, with an easy to read structure, flow and text, you donít stand out and the reader does not get a quick grasp of what you are about.

This is important, read this carefully. A resume not only shows what you have done, but how you do it, and what your attitude is about your work. If you are not willing to work to present the most important thing in your life, YOU, in the best possible manner via your presentation, i.e. your resume, the employer will rightly wonder how keen you will be in representing them . I cannot emphasize this enough.

Structure and Flow

I am sure that any of you that have been interviewed noticed the interviewer flipping back and forth in the resume. The reason for this is that there isnít a solid structure and flow to the resume and they canít get a grip on it to read it properly. Key points of interest do not stand out. You want to design the resume so that the reader will flow through it the way you want them to, and not haphazardly.

You want key points to stand out,




All this can be achieved without having to resort to gimmicks or fancy graphics design. A properly structured, easy to read resume, where relevant skills and experience stand out, negates the myth of keeping a resume to no more than 2 pages. Think of a PowerPoint presentation that you may have seen that stood out, was easy to read and the information there was viewable and understood at a glance.

Summary

A well done summary is highly desirable at the top of your resume. There is a reason many presentations have an Executive Summary. This will give the reader a grasp of your skills and experience and encourage them to peruse the resume in detail. Let it flow from the personal into the technical. Keep it short and in bullet form.

Remember that the initial viewing of your resume will be on a computer monitor, so having this summary at the top is very useful.

Applicant Tracking Systems

You can be assured that most mid to large companies use some form of Applicant Tracking Software which extracts the resume from an email or a web form, copies it into a database and is searched on keywords (among other parameters such as location) Make sure that the keywords relevant to your desired position are well represented in your resume, and not just in a summary sheet somewhere at the beginning or end of the resume.

Spelling and Grammar

A resume with spelling mistakes almost always catches my eye, and the candidate loses points. Do not rely on Spell-Check. Have someone who reads a lot review your resume. This is to not only catch spelling mistakes but also grammatical errors.

Cover Letter

In the age of the Internet, these have less value. However, I consider them useful as a way to highlight your fit for the specific job applied for. Keep it short, and highlight your relevant skills and experience for that particular role in well spaced bullet form, with no more than 5 items. If I see a resume I like, I will often then go back to the cover letter to see how they personalized it to the position applied for.

Next post: Human Resources and Interviews



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Last edited by: cervelo-van: Nov 27, 08 10:25
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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I completely disagree about the '2-page resume' being a myth, it is good business sense to limit its length: unless you have 30 years relevant experience it is a really good idea to prune, prune, prune: you might give half of a page to your last job, a third to the one before that, and the ones before a few lines tops (unless for some reason you want to draw attention to jobs that weren't your last).

In my opinion (both as a hiring person, and as an applicant) having the top 2/3rds of the first page be summary and skills, with the bottom 1/3rd and the top 1/3 of the 2nd page for your last job, then going on previous jobs with less and less space devoted to them, seems to be the most effective format.


--
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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As I stated in the outset, there will be those who have different views on this subject. I base mine on over 8 years experience as a High Tech Recuiter working with Fortune 100 companies to start-ups and personally having hired over 400 people at various levels.

Sure, someone who has 3-5 years experience covering 2 jobs, there is no sense trying to expand beyond 2 pages. However, trying to cram 15+ years experience into 2 pages becomes more about the number of pages then the objectives of both the applicant and the recipient of the resume. It will often also fail the readability and clarity test.

Lets examine logically what we are trying to acheive in a resume and what the reader (in this case I use myself as the reader) wants to see. I want to see how the applicant has evolved in their career, how they have grown and taken on more responsibility. I want to see how they describe their roles and duties, the challenges and successes. I want the resume to show me what they have done, but even more how they describe what they have done. Seeing a company name, title, dates and a line or two about their experience there does not tell me a lot.

To finalize, in my opinion its not the number of pages that counts, its how well presented the information on those pages comes across.
In Reply To:
I completely disagree about the '2-page resume' being a myth, it is good business sense to limit its length: unless you have 30 years relevant experience it is a really good idea to prune, prune, prune: you might give half of a page to your last job, a third to the one before that, and the ones before a few lines tops (unless for some reason you want to draw attention to jobs that weren't your last).

In my opinion (both as a hiring person, and as an applicant) having the top 2/3rds of the first page be summary and skills, with the bottom 1/3rd and the top 1/3 of the 2nd page for your last job, then going on previous jobs with less and less space devoted to them, seems to be the most effective format.

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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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Another 2 cents and to continue the thoughts...

A resume should not be more than 2-pages long. Resumes any longer show a lack of ability for the candidate to be brief, bottom-line oriented and to-the-point... at least that's the mantra for executive recruiters where I work. Writing a novel of info on a business resume for the sake of readability is not necessary... The interview and application are for the details.

Resumes are marketing materials and in today's business culture, who has time for anything that takes more than 1 minute to scan?... not too many people.

Specific technical skills and professional certifications should be first on the resume... those are the "catch" part of the marketing.....

Hiring managers will pick up the phone and call candidates with the skills that fit the job -- and only those candidates. Experience is important -- but real skills matter. An elaborate write-up of what the candidate writes that he / she states he / she can do does not go too far...

Just like with training, results matter and numbers matter. If a candidate can prove he / she increased sales by 26% earning $800K in increased revenue in 2008... okay.

Cover letters are obsolete.

Resumes that show too much "attitude" actually are negative marketing and do a dis-service to the candidate. Hiring managers will be turned-off from too much empathsis on work attitude. "hmmmm.... what's he trying to prove?"....

Stick to the skills, facts and be short... monster.com and careerbuilder.com serach engines don't care too much about personality... nor does brassring, taleo or any other recruiter's applicant tracking system that flags viable candidates.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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This is good stuff. Thanks.




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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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Here's another pet peeve of mine in reading resumes for employment in both high tech (where I spent over 20 years hiring people) and now in my own company -- get a real email address and don't put those cute names that sounded good when you were getting that free email on yahoo or gmail, etc. Email addresses like "partygirl@xxx.com" luv2drinkbud@, studlyguy@,

etc. have no place on a serious resume. By the way, I didn't make those up...use a serious address that shows an employer that you are serious about being a good employee.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [perfcctionist] [ In reply to ]
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I will have to disagree with you on some of what you state here. People are not robots. From what I have seen, most people don't work out in the workforce because of personality issues, either their own or the environment they are in. If all resumes are 2 pages and they all look the same, and have minimum detail, how does a hiring person decide who to invite for an interview?

If its just about numbers, why have a resume at all? Why not just make applicants fill out a web form with their name, address, phone, where they worked and a drop down menu of percentages that they increased the profits for their employer?

We all know that education, marks and technical skills are not necessarily indicators of success. I would rather hire someone who might have less skills but has a great attitude, is willing to learn, is good with people and will work well with a team, then someone who has all the good stuff on paper but can't work with anyone, and feels they have nothing to prove.

I hired hundreds of people who did very well in my past companies. My interviews usually only lasted 5-10 minutes, I hired on attitude. Skills can be learned, attitude (which includes passion, dedication, commitment, desire to learn) is usually hardwired very early on.

Having said all of the above, if you are applying for a Civil Engineer position, you obviously have to be a Civil Engineer and able to meet the requirements of the position. However, how do you stand out from other applicants for the same position with your initial application for that job, your resume.



In Reply To:
Another 2 cents and to continue the thoughts...

A resume should not be more than 2-pages long. Resumes any longer show a lack of ability for the candidate to be brief, bottom-line oriented and to-the-point... at least that's the mantra for executive recruiters where I work. Writing a novel of info on a business resume for the sake of readability is not necessary... The interview and application are for the details.

Resumes are marketing materials and in today's business culture, who has time for anything that takes more than 1 minute to scan?... not too many people.

Specific technical skills and professional certifications should be first on the resume... those are the "catch" part of the marketing.....

Hiring managers will pick up the phone and call candidates with the skills that fit the job -- and only those candidates. Experience is important -- but real skills matter. An elaborate write-up of what the candidate writes that he / she states he / she can do does not go too far...

Just like with training, results matter and numbers matter. If a candidate can prove he / she increased sales by 26% earning $800K in increased revenue in 2008... okay.

Cover letters are obsolete.

Resumes that show too much "attitude" actually are negative marketing and do a dis-service to the candidate. Hiring managers will be turned-off from too much empathsis on work attitude. "hmmmm.... what's he trying to prove?"....

Stick to the skills, facts and be short... monster.com and careerbuilder.com serach engines don't care too much about personality... nor does brassring, taleo or any other recruiter's applicant tracking system that flags viable candidates.

Cervelo R3 and Cannondale Synapse, Argon18 Electron Track Bike
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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As demonstrated by this one thread with only a few responses, there is no ONE way to write a resume. Different people look at different aspects. Again, you could take a "professionally written" resume from one person, hand it to another expert, and they will write diametrically opposite opinions.

This is why ALL candidates should research their opportunities prior to sending a resume. I actually have a generic sheet that has most of my general accomplishments on it (increase in sales, total revenue, awards, etc.), but then I have probably 4-5 "flavored" versions that are geared more towards specific markets. If I'm sending a resume to a small company president (under $10 milliion in sales), I will probably send a version that has more of direct numbers/accomplishments. If it is going to a manager of a group of a larger company, then perhaps something with more of a marketing tone to it (company presidents have less time and interest, while someone managing a group but inherently different psychological characteristics may want to dive deeper into the "attitude" , etc.).

I can change between 2 resumes I have on the job boards at any time, and both of them will receive about the same number of hits.

Also, as mentioned, I agree that as you get more experience, the more you NEED to move away from a one page resume. Anyone who can summarize 15 years of experience on one page is someone who hasn't done very much in those 15 years :-) However, you don't want a 5 page book either....or also, the cheesy email address (I'll actually throw out resumes without looking from people who don't appear to be professional, as that is one of the most lacking characteristics in business today).

.

Craig Preston - President / Preston Presentations
Saving the world with more professional, powerful, and persuasive presentations - one audience at a time.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [perfcctionist] [ In reply to ]
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Depends where you apply...for research positions, you put work experience, education, research interests, technical skills, publications...no way you put all that on two pages.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [Francois] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
Depends where you apply...for research positions, you put work experience, education, research interests, technical skills, publications...no way you put all that on two pages.

Bingo. If you are hiring a worker bee, then short resumes are appropriate. If you are hiring a person with an exceptional record of accomplishment, that won't do. My career mentor's resume was something on the order of 8 pages: professor (at Yale), periodical editor, Bell Labs computer researcher (and colleague of Kernighan and Ritchie), 30+ years in the industry, colleague of mine at three different companies.

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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [Old and Haggard] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
In Reply To:
Depends where you apply...for research positions, you put work experience, education, research interests, technical skills, publications...no way you put all that on two pages.

Bingo. If you are hiring a worker bee, then short resumes are appropriate. If you are hiring a person with an exceptional record of accomplishment, that won't do. My career mentor's resume was something on the order of 8 pages: professor (at Yale), periodical editor, Bell Labs computer researcher (and colleague of Kernighan and Ritchie), 30+ years in the industry, colleague of mine at three different companies.

any person with exceptional accomplishments is not likely going to need a resume at all, you just have people in your network asking you to come work with them. Having an 8-page resume to me smacks of self-aggrandizement, no matter who you are (unless there are specific reasons like having to list all your publications and you having 300+ articles out there).


--
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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One other tip on resumes-

Write different resumes for different jobs. If you are applying for IT - telecommunications related, then the 4 years you worked in an Air Force ER are pretty irrelevant. But, if you are applying for IT - Health Care, now you have relevant experience that should be emphasized a bit more.

A boiler plate resume usually gets a boiler plate response.

Also, while a cover letter may be a bit archaic, it is still a good idea. Many times it takes the form of the intro letter that you attach your .PDF resume to (Depending on submission requirements), but it still exists and as someone that has done the hiring for our department for a few years, I looked for it. It gives a much better picture of the literacy skills of the applicant than a summarization resume.

Also (And I would think this would be covered in part 3), Follow up emails/phone calls thanking people for the interview are gold. Absolute and total gold, because hardly anyone thinks to do that anymore.

John



Top notch coaching: Francois and Accelerate3 | Follow on Twitter: LifetimeAthlete |
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [Devlin] [ In reply to ]
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Honestly, I don't understand the reluctance to personalize a resume. As a hiring authority, I want to know what makes the candidate tick? I want to see something in the resume that will make that person stand out.

If they climbed the Himalayas, I want to know that. If they served in the Air Force ER or any other role like that I want to know. If they made a drastic career change I want to know about it as that would score points with me, it shows me someone who was willing to make a change in their life. Thats the kind of person I want to meet with for an interview.

If someone did an Ironman, I want to know that as well for good and for bad. Good: they are disciplined, dedicated, and hopefully not lazy. Bad: they can't spend too much time in the office as they need to train, and on Monday morning they are zonked due to the 6 workouts they did over the weekend.

Think about really successful people, are they bland numbers people?

Don't get carried away and list all your hobbies and your stories about Band Camp

In Reply To:
One other tip on resumes-

Write different resumes for different jobs. If you are applying for IT - telecommunications related, then the 4 years you worked in an Air Force ER are pretty irrelevant. But, if you are applying for IT - Health Care, now you have relevant experience that should be emphasized a bit more.

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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
Honestly, I don't understand the reluctance to personalize a resume. As a hiring authority, I want to know what makes the candidate tick


you are one of the few, a lot of hiring personnel will get the vibes of 'ok, they put ironman in their resume, this means they'll often be tired from training, take long lunches, etc. etc.' or maybe remember person xyz they know socially that ALWAYS goes on about triathlon and so on and get a negative first impression.

You are applying for a job, put on the resume things that are relevant to what you are applying to do; if you hit it off with the interviewer and start chatting about outside things then hey, bring stuff up, but putting it in the resume is not super great from the risks-vs-possible-benefits standpoint in my opinion.


--
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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Once again, it really depends on the kind of jobs you're applying for. It's up to you to figure out if the people looking at hiring will take the time to read your resume, or if it's one of these jobs where one page is enough.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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If the application is by e mail, would you expect the cover letter to be the main body of the email and the resume as an attachment?

On a personal level, how would you view spelling differences/mistakes if the applicant were English? I ask as I find it difficult to know which words are spelt the English way in Canada and which the American way. Given my imminent move to Vancouver this is on particular relevance to me.


"How bad can it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [JulianInEngland] [ In reply to ]
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Yes, I personally much prefer the cover or introduction to be in the body of the email and the resume as an attachment. The cover letter needs to be short, and to the point, highlighting very clearly your suitability for this particular role.

People in Canada are mostly aware of the differences in spelling for certain words, as often we spell them the same way. Colour for example. In the US, that may not always be the case. You can easily resolve this by setting your word processor to use the US dictionary.


In Reply To:
If the application is by e mail, would you expect the cover letter to be the main body of the email and the resume as an attachment?

On a personal level, how would you view spelling differences/mistakes if the applicant were English? I ask as I find it difficult to know which words are spelt the English way in Canada and which the American way. Given my imminent move to Vancouver this is on particular relevance to me.


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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you for your response. I appreciate that most words are spelt the same in Canada and England, it's just the occasional difference that I wish to avoid making a faux pas with.


"How bad can it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [JulianInEngland] [ In reply to ]
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well, right there was one. We say spelled, not spelt ;-)

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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you, that's one less to worry about!


"How bad can it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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Resume Question:

So I found out yesterday that my plant is closing in March.

How would you cover projects that are not completed and will not be completed but are significant.

I just completed the 4 week Six Sigma Black Belt training at work, and I'm about half-way through my project. But now that the plant is closing the project will not get completed. The project related to Product Change-Over time, a significant factor is employee attitude and effort. Thats a bit of a variable that I can't control now and is greater then the effects that my improvements would have. Do I just list Six Sigma Black Belt trained, which is worth something, but no where near what certification with a complete project would be worth.

I guess when I get my resume revised, I'll be posting an I'm available post.
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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I am brushing up my resume as a result of being laid off in a couple weeks. I have a total of 10 year experience at a company that was split between a couple different time periods and spans multiple job titles. How do I group them to make sense?

Also, I'd love direct feedback on it. I can send it to whomever would be willing to help a girl out.

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Jen - @ultragrrl

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [mbeaugard] [ In reply to ]
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I would not sweat these details too much. Emphasize the training as that is something that is there for you and your potential employer going forward whereas the incomplete project is in the past. A brief one-liner stating that the project was not completed due to plant closure is sufficient

In Reply To:
Resume Question:

So I found out yesterday that my plant is closing in March.

How would you cover projects that are not completed and will not be completed but are significant.

I just completed the 4 week Six Sigma Black Belt training at work, and I'm about half-way through my project. But now that the plant is closing the project will not get completed. The project related to Product Change-Over time, a significant factor is employee attitude and effort. Thats a bit of a variable that I can't control now and is greater then the effects that my improvements would have. Do I just list Six Sigma Black Belt trained, which is worth something, but no where near what certification with a complete project would be worth.

I guess when I get my resume revised, I'll be posting an I'm available post.

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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [JenHS] [ In reply to ]
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Feel free to PM me.

This kind of job history is perfect for an Executive Summary that a reader can grasp at a glance.

As for multiple roles, the best way to highlight your experience is by category and achievements within those categories.

So for example:

Sales
Increased revenue by 47% for 3 product lines across 5 vertical markets

Business Development
Developed and fostered profitable partnerships with (name significant companies here)

Operations
Blah Blah Blah




In Reply To:
I am brushing up my resume as a result of being laid off in a couple weeks. I have a total of 10 year experience at a company that was split between a couple different time periods and spans multiple job titles. How do I group them to make sense?

Also, I'd love direct feedback on it. I can send it to whomever would be willing to help a girl out.

Cervelo R3 and Cannondale Synapse, Argon18 Electron Track Bike
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Re: Career Tips 2 - Resumes [cervelo-van] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you!

I'll send PM

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Jen - @ultragrrl

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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