By Peter Jones

Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 30, 2016 —


You might see the phrase “professional background” popping up now and then in your job search, but what does it mean?

The quickest summary is that they’re asking for your work history. But you shouldn’t stop there–no one really wants a dry list of previous employers. When a hiring manager wants to hear about your “professional background,” they are looking to learn about your performance and history in your current and past professions.

Where Should You Put It?

The best place to share this information is perhaps at the top of your resume, in a summary of your qualifications or a career profile—both much more effective than the outmoded “Objective” section. [See*RELATED* below]


With each job you apply for, make sure you’ve made a convincing map of your skills and experience as matching the requirements for the job.

On a resume, the best way to format your work history and professional accomplishments is probably chronological. But you can also try formatting it in a way that emphasizes jobs you’ve had that are particularly relevant—by type.

What Should You Say?

Be as honest as possible about what you’ve done and where you’ve worked, but, with that in mind, emphasize your particular skills and expertise as strongly as possible.

If you don’t have a white-collar background with fancy managerial positions, that shouldn’t matter.


What matters most is your professionalism, how you conducted yourself on the job, and how much you have grown. Showing your record of acting responsibly and accountably, with excellence and integrity, will do you a world of good. It’s still a “professional” background even if you feel your job is not fancy.

Go Beyond Just Paid Jobs

Remember to include training and education—which are more than just academic credentials. Any certifications or skills training or onboarding you’ve acquired in the course of your career are relevant and quite important.

Remember, how you look on paper is only the first step. Your resume is a partial summary of your professional background. Use it to get in front of a hiring manager or recruiter, and then expand upon the bullet points while you have the face time.


And keep in mind: when an interviewer asks you to tell them about your professional background, remember that they want more than just a chronological list of jobs that they could read straight off your resume.


Present yourself professionally, and your background can provide the extra boost you need.



10 Things You Should Remove From Your Resume in 2017

by Peter Jones, The Job Network

You spend so much time padding your resume and putting things in that it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the things we’d be better off leaving out of our resumes. When resume editing, keep in mind that hiring managers give you about 6 seconds before they put your resume through the shredder. Why not give your resume a little holiday season makeover for the new year?

Remember to focus on only the most relevant information—anything that isn’t clear, clean, and in support of your message or brand can go.

Here are the first 10 things that can get the axe and you should avoid when resume editing.

1. “Objective”
The Objective statement is an irrelevant dinosaur. Replace it with a “Professional Profile” instead—something that summarizes the best parts of your background and shows you off best. Set the tone/theme and use the rest of the resume as proof. The only exception here is if you’re changing fields or industries completely, but that is a rare situation requiring some finessing of its own.

2. Bad Grammar
It may seem like a small thing, but even the smallest error can turn off a keen-eyed recruiter. Keep faithful to first person headlines and double check that all your verbs agree.

3. Mailing Address
You don’t have room for this. No one is going to need it. And it’s probably a security risk.

4. Multiple Telephone Numbers
Pick the best number at which you can consistently be reached, and leave out the rest. If they want multiple methods of contact, they can always email.

5. Too Many Bullets
Don’t bullet everything or you’ll run the risk of over-bulleting. Use this useful tool only to draw out the most important information in a clear manner.

6. Irrelevant Education
Except in specific circumstances, no one needs to know where you went to high school, what college you transferred out of, or your GPA. Include only what makes sense for the jobs you are applying for and leave out the rest.

7. References
Obviously, you’ll provide references on request. Don’t waste valuable space saying so on your resume. If an employer wants them; don’t worry, they will ask.

8. More than One Page
Unless you need to for your particular field, don’t bloat your resume with piles and piles of text. Try to keep it to a clean single page with surgical detail and no extra padding.

9. Mismatched Formatting
When you’re proofreading for content and orthographical or grammatical errors, be sure to also double check your formatting. Keep your underlining, indentations, italics, etc. completely uniform.

10. Lies
No bending the truth necessary. You can portray yourself to best advantage wherever possible, but you never want to include mistruths or outright lies. You will get caught and it won’t be good.