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Don’t forget the big picture

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DonPast employment experience is usually the most significant section of a resume, and therefore it’s important not to leave the reader guessing. Most job-seekers like to “zoom in” by describing duties and responsibilities, highlighting achievements, and listing awards and formal recognition. There is nothing wrong with that (achievements are particularly essential on a resume). However, it’s equally important to “zoom out” and look at the big picture of each position.

What does the big picture look like?  It defines the environment you worked in and how your position fit within the framework of the overall company. Using a retail district manager as an example, here are some things to consider incorporating into your resume:

1. Describe the company. 
Many retailers are famous around the world, while others are barely known outside their own community. If you think there’s a chance your targeted employers won’t be familiar with the companies you worked for in the past, include a brief description of them. Are they local, regional, national, or international? What commodities do they sell? How many stores do they have? What type of stores? Are they a division of a larger company? How do they rank in their industry?

2. Describe your accountability.
How many stores did you oversee? What geographic area? Where were you based? Were they specialty-size stores or big-box outlets? How many of each? Were they in shopping malls or free-standing? Did your district increase in size under your supervision? How many districts were in the company? How did your district rank in comparison to other districts in sales and other key performance indicators?

3. Describe the organizational structure.
What position(s) did you report to – regional manager, director, vice president, owner? How many people reported directly to you? Were they all store managers, or did you also oversee visual presentation or other departments? How many people worked in your district in total, including all store staff? What other departments did you work closely with?

Including this type of information on your resume allows the reader to put your experience into context, and better enables them to compare your background to the requirements of the position. If you leave it to the reader to guess these aspects of your work experience, they most likely will not guess favourably.
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