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Job Magician Writing a Resume
that Really Shows Who You Are

Oh, there’s no end of guides on how to build a resume, and most of them recommend putting together a resume that will harm you.   Don’t try to cover things up or obfuscate, as many of these resume writers will recommend.  Don’t describe your personal attributes, because that always sounds phony.  Stick to the facts, and make it interesting at the same time.

Here are the keys to a successful resume:

  • Resume must be easily skimmable.
  • The first page must be interesting enough to make the reader want to get to the second page.  Don’t panic over length.  Those rules that a resume cannot be more than two pages long are aimed at junior candidates, not someone who has twenty or thirty years of work experience.
  • Position descriptions need to quickly make what you do clear.  The size of the company, the size of your area of responsibility and your staff size needs to be quickly and readily understood.  If your company uses unusual titles, you may need to translate them.  If you are the VP/Client Relations and oversee all marketing and sales for the company, your title should read:  VP/Sales & Marketing (VP/Client Relations), reporting to the CEO.
  • Functional skills and accomplishments need to tied to a given position, rather than mentioned out of context in a two-page Areas of Experience and Accomplishments section that you see at the beginning of those functional resumes that professional resume writers love and employers hate.
  • Resume needs to include keywords that will make your resume pop up when someone uses resume scanning software.  These keywords include titles, functional areas, industries and key customers, among others.  No one will do a database search using keywords such as dynamic or innovative, so leave those out.
  • Resume needs to be complete.  If you leave off the early part of your career or your college graduation dates, the reader will wonder what you’re trying to hide.  

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To give you an idea of why you should use this more traditional format, read our article, How a Recruiter Reads a Resume.

Below is the resume of Harcourt Potter, a true Job Magician:

Harcourt Potter
283 Swami Road
North Treestump, Vermont  05789
(802) Job-Magi

Objective:  Sales and Marketing Director/VP/Vice President

Summary:   Marketing- and sales-oriented executive with experience in all facets of business management, including Sales Force Development, Marketing Management, Live Television Appearances, Sales Force Recruitment & Development, Operations Management, Acquisition Integration and IPO’s.
Have opened national accounts in most retail channels, including:

Discount Stores (Wal-Mart, Target)
Department Stores (Sears, Macy’s, Harrod’s)
Drug Chains (Walgreens, Rite Aid)
Supermarkets (Kroger, Albertsons)
Mail Order (L L Bean, Land’s End)
Specialty Housewares (Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel)
Hardware/Home Centers (Home Depot, Lowe’s).


VICE PRESIDENT/SALES & MARKETING, PorkBarrels, Inc.  Porcupine, Vermont.  Reported to the president of this $77-million, NASDAQ Barrel/Housewares manufacturer and importer.  1999 to present. 

Oversee all sales and marketing functions. Manage a staff of 31 that includes a National Sales Director, Marketing Director, International Sales Director, Customer Service Manager, 5 regional sales managers, 2 national account managers, an art director, 5 product managers and 14 customer service representatives, plus 32 independent rep groups (employing a total of 175  independent manufacturer’s reps). 

Sales increased from $23-million to $77-million in nine-year period in a market that underwent a net decrease of 17% during that time.  Net profit increased from 1% to 13% during that period.  Recruited key managers as internal sales and marketing staff increased from 10 to 27.  Led a sales staff that opened key accounts that included Wal-Mart, Williams-SonomaHarrod’s, Crate & Barrel, Wegmans, Michael’s, Target Ace HardwareBed, Bath & BeyondCarlson Marketing, Maritz, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale's.

DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETINGWarthogs. Miraculous, Montana.  $13-million privately-held Giftware/Housewares/Garden Accessories Manufacturer.    1993 to 1999.

Recruited, trained, and managed sales force of more than 100 manufacturer’s reps calling on gift and gourmet shops, mail order catalogs, premium/corporate accounts, department stores, and mass merchants.  Put together catalogs and brochures, and developed new products, including a line of picnic baskets that L L Bean immediately picked up.
Oversaw a company staff that initially consisted of one Assistant Sales Manager/Marketing Manager and on my leaving included a Marketing Manager, National Sales Manager, National Accounts Manager and three clerical support people.

Developed a unique pie basket program with Kroger's bakery department that was featured in Supermarket News.  This led to a promotion with Albertson's, front page items on Ralph’s Memorial Day and 4th of July flyers, and nine more promotions with Kroger.

NATIONAL SALES:  On my arrival, sales were rapidly falling and there were only seven major accounts.   I replaced nearly all the reps, and set up two sales divisions, one for major accounts and one for independent shops.  More than 100 major accounts were opened, including Sears, J.C. Penney, Spiegel, Orvis, Amway, True Value, Dayton-Hudsons, May Company and Walgreen’s as sales increased from $4-million to $13-million in 6 years.

MARKETING/PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT:  Developed catalogs and brochures, sales forecasts and new packaging.  Worked with reps and accounts to develop new product ideas.  After discussions with Country Curtains and Vermont Country Store, I put together a line of wrought iron curtain accessories that became over 15% of our sales (Country Curtains became our largest customer).  Recruited and worked with freelance designer who developed items that opened up new markets and new accounts, including J.C. PenneyLand's End, Dillard’s, and Crate & Barrel.

PROMOTION:  Placed Warthogs products in national consumer and trade magazine articles, all at no charge to the company.  Magazines included Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Country Living, First For Women, Country Woman, Mademoiselle, Craftworks (front cover) and Be-Pal (Japan’s leading outdoor magazine).  Also placed Warthogs products on national TV programs and movies, ranging from Northern Exposure to Barney and Friends.

PRODUCT SOURCING:  Sourced manufacturers for contract work to increase product base.  These ranged from not-listed-in-any-directory woodworking companies to more traditional companies like brass manufacturers and contract packagers.  At times, sourced and purchased raw materials, including steel, glass and packaging items.

PRODUCT COSTING:  worked with plant manager and factory personnel to develop an accurate cost structure, and personally oversaw those maintaining that system for two transitional  years for the company.

Beauteous Corporation
, Hamhocks, Ohio.  $9-million Giftwrap manufacturer. 1989 to 1993.

Reporting to VP/Sales, directed sales force of independent reps covering all states east of the Mississippi.  Opened Brooks Pharmacies, Kroger, Stop & Shop and Ames as sales in region increased from $4-million to $6-million.

Assisted VP/Sales in management of national independent rep force while covering Northeast directly.  Due to seasonal nature of the business, also became involved in marketing, product development, shipping, purchasing, and production management.

MARKETING:  Developed annual marketing plan. Worked with general manager and freelance artists to develop new product line. Designed and developed 4-color catalogs.

PURCHASING:  Purchased point-of-purchase displays, labels (saving $15,000), and Christmas tags.

OPERATIONS:  Worked as production supervisor during non-sales and peak production season for 5 months/year directing 25 to 30 employees, and ran entire factory (150 employees) in plant manager’s absence.  Managed factory store (open for 6-week period before Christmas).  Located and rented store, promoted it, and directed on-site manager.

Education:  PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Bachelor of Arts, 1986

    Major:  Psychology

Personal Interests:  Bicycling, Backpacking, Kayaking, Caving, Skiing, Basketball, Hockey, Ham Radio (Extra Class License)

Former minor league football player, Albany, N.Y.  Set league field goal record (50 yards) and led league in kick-scoring twice in five-year career. 

Timson Hill Preschool, Board of Directors, 1994 – 2001

Porcupine Regional School District, Board of Directors, 2004-present

Established Oinkers Youth Basketball League, 2002 (President, 2002-2004; Coach 2002 to present)


To see a printer-friendly, full-page, fully-formatted version of the Harcourt Potter resume, click here.

What can you tell about Harcourt before you’ve finished the first page? (Bear in mind that the first page of this resume would end at about the exporting paragraph with PorkBarrels if this was printed on an 8.5” by 11” piece of paper, and not where you would see it if you printed it, due to the internet format).  He’s a solid sales and marketing executive who understands and has experience in most of the major channels of consumer products retailing.  He positions himself quickly by name-dropping the major accounts to which he’s sold.

The resume is skimmable, and the key points bounce out at you.  Major functional areas of experience are mentioned, briefly, in the summary, and then are tied to each job, where they are clearly demonstrated.  This is far superior to the functional resume, where the achievements and functional skills are jumbled together out of context, which makes them thoroughly confusing.

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The resume is also filled with keywords that will make it come up when someone does a resume search in their database for a sales and marketing executive with experience selling in industries such as housewares, giftware, and lawn & garden, or in selling to discount stores, department stores, mail order catalogs or any of the other retail channels that he mentions.  

Is he highly professional and results-oriented?  A mentor and team builder?  Can’t say for certain, as you can never truly discern a personality from a resume, but you would guess that Harcourt is because he has demonstrated throughout his resume that he has done the kind of things that high impact, dynamic, results-oriented mentors and team builders do.  And he didn’t even have to say that in his summary for you to start thinking that.


PS:  Naming Your Resume:  Most people have done their resume over a dozen times, and send an email version entitled HQPv9-7-14-13.doc.  That's very helpful if you like memorizing military serial numbers or license plates, but confusing to someone who has hundreds of resumes saved on his hard drive, and two dozen open on his computer. Save it using your name: Potter_Harcourt_Resume_2013, and whoever saves it won't lose it.



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