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GAINVESVILLE, Florida (Jan. 30, 2009) — Today I spoke to graduate healthcare management students at the University of Florida. The seminar room was located not far from “The Swamp” – Ben Hill Griffith Stadium, home of the University of Florida Gators, our current national champions of college football. These are bright, motivated students, the future leaders of the U.S. healthcare system.

The topic of my talk was Career Management – Your Brand, Your Success, Your Life. At first, I sensed they were not really connecting with part of my title – the Your Life, Your Success part. After all they are young, attractive/handsome, energetic and bullet proof. What’s up with this talk on success? Isn’t success for a well educated graduate student a foregone conclusion? Not really, and I said so. They smiled, most nodded, but few were buying! I continued to try to make the connection, however, a certain sinking feeling led me to believe that I was sounding like someone’s father, a deadly comparison. They were polite. I plowed on and they begin to engage.

I spent a lot of time talking about the resume, that document which I describe as the core element of an individual’s brand statement. As senior executives we continually add to our brand through books published, articles written, blogs posted, and speeches presented, as we move through life. But the resume will forever be the root document of an individual’s professional brand.

Since the resume is so important, and given the vast amount of misinformation floating on the Internet and through so-called resume doctor consultants, I have decided that over the next several blog posts to offer my perspective on the resume – that of a partner in an executive search firm.

Let’s begin with an overview:

The resume is the candidate’s first interview.

OK, I have said this already, but let me blast this into your psyche one more time: the resume is the core document in clearly defining a candidate’s professional brand.

That is why the resume must be constructed with clarity and accuracy while emphasizing the candidate’s progressive scope of responsibility and record of accomplishment. The ideal resume should detail the career progression and accomplishments, beginning with the most recent position. The resume should include all positions of employment. It is critical that the resume be accurate concerning title, dates of employment, scope of responsibility and accomplishments. The standard of honesty and clarity applies to the listing of academic and professional credentials and affiliations as well. Statements that are cleverly (ambiguously) worded – designed to allow the employer or recruiter to make their own assumptions concerning degrees earned or credentials held, are in today’s market easily vetted and almost a certain guarantee of elimination from future consideration.

It is imperative, when sending a resume to a recruiter or potential employer, that the resume be current as of the date it is transmitted. One of the most common mistakes is to send a resume indicating current employment even though tenure with that organization has ended. This speaks to integrity and/or lack of attention to detail.

There are no hard and fast rules concerning the length of a candidate’s resume. It should be proportional to the years of experience, number of positions held and accomplishments. It is silly to suggest that a 30-year executive with a successful record of accomplishment can incorporate all relevant information into a two-page resume.

One final comment today: Always keep your resume up to date. You never know when that dream job will come along or, in this economy, when you get word that your job is being eliminated.

On Tuesday: Organizing the Resume
John G. Self, Chairman and Founder of JohnMarch Partners, is the Firm’s senior client advisor. A 32-year veteran of the healthcare industry, he is a former investigative reporter and crime writer for a major daily newspaper. Candidates and clients say he is one of the most thorough executive recruiters working in the healthcare industry