5 Rules of Organization to Apply to Your Resume for Career Progression or Transition

I am an organizational junkie.  I love reading, watching and listening to anything about organization; from the garage, kitchen, closets, office – any organizational tip I can find I read it or watch it with excitement.

I guess I am hoping one day all those shows, videos, books, articles and tidbits will magically sink in and make me organized.

I have a bit of dual personality when it comes to organization.  My work is very organized, my environment, well, that is a different story.  Let’s just say it is a work in progress.

Looking at my office this morning I realize it is time for an organization intervention.  I started thinking about the general rules of organization.  Although it is definitely needed, it will not happen today; I have resumes to write and that is my priority.

As I began writing, my mind was still lingering on the organization aspect and that is when the connection hit me:  if you use the rules of organization to organize your resume you can organize your job search, career growth and business success.

Your resume is the foundation of your job search.  It drives everything from your LinkedIn profile, interviewing and networking.

A good business bio does the same thing for your business in defining your LinkedIn profile, networking, customer communications and growth.  From here on out I will use the word resume, but keep in mind this applies to business owners and their own communication pieces.

5 General Rules of Organizing:

1. Purge

Most every aspect of our life falls in the 80/20 rule.  Focus on the 20.


For the position you seek or the career you desire you must first understand what is important in that role.  What are the skills, value and qualifications that are important for your success and that are valued by the organization?  This is your 20% focus for 80% of your resume.

2. Decide

Right here right now.  For each item ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  If you answer no then get rid of it.


For each statement, sentence, area of expertise item and bullet point ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  The love it part is actually does it love me?  Does this item support you in demonstrating yourself as the best candidate?  Does it speak to what is important to the position or company?  If you answer no then get rid of it.

3. Remove

Be ruthless and bag or box any unloved or unused item and donate, sell or trash.


All those miscellaneous items clogging up your resume that do not support you in the role you want – trash them.  Do not waste the reader’s time with minutia, you want them to focus on the specific points of your value and overall skill set.

4. Use a System

Group like items, make it easy to see and find what you are looking for  – i.e. in the garage or shed keep all the gardening tools together and in partnership with what you use together.  Pots, trowels, potting mix etc. Labeling shelving and boxes make for quicker and easier identification.


Your system is to write toward the job you want rather than giving a cliff notes version of the jobs you have had.  Under each position group like items, make it easy to for the reader to find what they are looking for, possibly use subtitles and emphasize key words for easier identification.

5. Maintain Focus

The driving force is the goal of organization, not each item individually.  Focus on the overall goal and let go of the overwhelming desire to let the emotional attachment of each item drive your progress.


Focus on the overall goal of your next position and let go of the overwhelming desire to emotionally beat yourself up on past mistakes, poor position choices and seemingly unrelated career history.

Write your resume looking forward, not back.  What, in those past positions, helped you in any way for that next job?  What type of skills or lessons were learned and how can you apply them?  There is a thread there; it is your job to find it in order to present it to the reader so they understand.

Once you have taken the time to organize your resume and get rid of all that unwanted clutter then take a break.  Come back to it with a relaxed attitude.  What you will now see is a framework that fully supports you.  Now, you can start tweaking it and putting in the final touches that bring it all together.

With a clean, fresh resume you can confidently – and strategically – organize and implement your LinkedIn profile, networking, elevator speech, interviewing and career search or advancement.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer




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