2 competitive advantages of adding your company’s context in a resume

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Nov 29

Typically, your Professional Experience is the largest section of your resume. Here, you list your positions, results — and the companies you’ve worked for. It’s the company I want to focus on today.

Everyone knows what a company is, right? After all, there is a name, there is either private or public ownership…everyone knows about a company.

But unless the person interviewing you has worked at the company before, no one really knows about your company.

Everyone knows what big companies do, right?

Think about it. When you put down General Electric as your current company, what does that really mean? Are you one of those programmers who program machines? Are you part of their wind turbine division? Or are you part of GE Capital — except they sold that division years ago. Oops.

Even though General Electric is a recognizable name, how you fit into that company is not clear at all.

Made up company names are worse

At lease with Cube Rules, you can take a pretty good stab that there are rules people must follow working in corporate cubicles because it is in the name. You may not know that the site is all about landing a job, having job success, and building employment security — but it is certainly about people who work in cubes.

But what about – at the time — Accenture? Supposedly about “accent on the future,” Accenture is really a generic corporate nonsense word only a management consultant could have come up with.

Or Xe? That made up name that tried to get the Blackwater private security firm a little distance from those ugly Iraq headlines.

When you have companies making up generic corporate nonsense words to make a company name — either to get away from bad publicity or, more commonly, to ensure there is no existing company name out there that is the same — your interviewer will have a tough time figuring out what the company you work for even does, much less how you fit into it.

Even local companies are obscure

There is some unknown sized city where even though you know the name of the company, you lose what that company does. Especially if it doesn’t have a strong statewide or national brand. In a town of 2,000, everyone will know what your company does. At 50,000 people? Maybe. In Chicago? Not a chance.

I recently interviewed a candidate that worked at a company less than five miles from my house and I had no clue what the company did.

There is a competitive advantage for you here

Think of it from the viewpoint of the hiring manager. The hiring manager perhaps doesn’t know what your company does. Or, worse, thinks he or she knows what your company does. And then you start answering interview questions and it doesn’t jive with the picture the hiring manager has in his or her head about what that company does. Doubt enters the mind and then you’re done.

But if you did something very simple on your resume — add a line after the company name that describes what the company does as you fit into it — you’d give yourself a big advantage.

For AT&T, as an example: “AT&T, among other things, provides an integrated cable television division called DirecTV that provides cable and sports programming via satellite.” This clearly tells the hiring manager you work for the DirecTV division and then, by your job titles, see the fit of what you do compared to the description. It also clearly says you don’t work in their Cellular division. Or their long distance division. Nor any other division they may have.

And one more competitive advantage

Outside of not getting cognitive dissonance about what you do compared to the picture the hiring manager has of the company you work for, this one line of context gives you one other important advantage: it opens up a line of questioning between you and the interviewer about what your company does versus what the hiring manager’s company does.

If you work in GE’s wind turbine division and you are interviewing for Siemens wind turbine division, that gets you a lot closer to the job than if you worked for GE’s aircraft engine division.

But most people won’t make the simple addition of a one sentence context of the company and how they fit into it in the resume. It’s a subtle — but killer — advantage to you in the job interview.

Pull out your resume and review what you have describing your company and see how well it fits with where you sit in the company. If you have a company one-line description at all. Take a look and add it or modify it. You’ll be glad you did.