What is a Resume & Why Does an Entrepreneur Need One?


We asked resume expert, Jessica Silverstein, to explain what purpose a resume serves, and why an entrepreneur needs one. As an entrepreneur, you may not have a resume because you've been out of the traditional job circuit for a while and haven't needed one. As you seek funding for your business, or reach out in other ways, you may get asked for your resume. You can ask Jessica your personal questions during our live teleclass, "The Entrepreneur's Resume: How to Write and Design One".

Jessica is the founder of the Attorney's Counsel, which provides consulting to lawyers seeking to optimize the skills and documents they need to move their careers forward and succeed in their job search. They provide resume and cover letter review, interview skills assessment and social media profile consultations in addition to counseling lawyers seeking to find fulfilling alternative legal careers.

There are a variety of formats through which to tell someone your work history and skills and accomplishments. Resumes, bios and curriculum vitae, otherwise known as a CV, are the three most common. But a resume is the most well recognized in the U.S. as a career progress document. Many people think only corporate positions require a resume. However, an entrepreneur needs a resume when a potential investor, potential client, or a potential employer requests one. A resume should be an integral part of an entrepreneur's marketing materials. It is not the type of document you want to throw together at the last minute and you do not want to keep someone waiting when you can provide them with one document that includes all of your relevant achievements, start-up highlights and awards and press mentions, in one place.

What is the best format for you?

A resume is not the same boring document you remember. There are multiple formats and you can be creative.

Bio: Most small business owners have a bio, either on their website or already prepared. A bio, short for biography, is a document including 1-4 paragraphs about your current employment, some select former accomplishments and any relevant roles you play in outside organizations. Also included is a mention of your education and any relevant certifications. Having your bio in a variety of lengths is a good idea since some websites limit by word count or characters. See an example here.

CV: A curriculum vitae is usually more than 2 pages and is a summary of your academic background as well as any publications, awards, honors, affiliations, and symposia in which you have taken part. A CV Is used in medical, academic, and research positions and is the preferred, work-history document format in Europe and most other parts of the world.

Confusion can occur when people do not know the difference between a CV and a resume and use the words interchangeably.

Resume: Resumes are 1-2 pages maximum and can be written in a variety of formats. All of those formats include one's work history, usually in reverse chronological order, with relevant accomplishments included as well as date and location of where you worked and your title at each position. Education, other relevant certifications, and skills are included as well.

Chronological, Functional & Hybrid: These are the most well-recognized resume formats.

  • A chronological resume is drafted in reverse chronological order with current and most recent information at the top of each section, with an emphasis on work experience.
  • A functional resume emphasizes skills, abilities and contributions; not work experience.
  • A hybrid resume combines the best of both and enables one to not only highlight their unique skills but also to show where they worked, when, and what they accomplished at each position. The majority of HR and hiring professionals do not prefer functional resumes because it is easier to hide gaps and it makes it difficult to know what work was done where, which is crucial in certain industries. A chronological and hybrid resume can both be drafted using paragraphs or bullets. Bullets are easy to read and enable someone to highlight the most important points they want the reader to know. Paragraphs show writing skills, but are also more difficult to read and are not the most efficient use of space on a limited number of pages.

Infographic: This is the newest resume format. This version visually shows how work progressed over time and is especially relevant for an entrepreneur. The use of color and graphic elements enable an entrepreneur to match their already existing marketing materials as well as make clear their unique aesthetic. One can tell the same story as with a textual resume but in a significantly more interesting and dynamic way. The two programs currently available, Visualize.me and BrazenCareerist.com's Facebook application, are both free and use the data from a LinkedIn profile, which means that your LinkedIn platform must be up to date. Working with a graphic designer is also an option, as long as you have the data to complete the document and the money to pay for it.

What should yours include or exclude?

It depends on your audience. You should have different versions for different situations. As an entrepreneur, it is possible you have been the IT, HR and risk management departments while simultaneously being CEO, CFO, and COO.

The skills you learned in all of those roles are now transferable skills. Those should be included in a relevant way. Also include your website, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts if they are relevant to your reader. If you had a previous career or another business, consider including that information as well. Keep in mind this is a marketing document but that your reader has a specific interest in mind so keep it concise and at all times relevant.

Bottom Line

Don't get lost in, "I was just doing my job." A resume may be one of the most important parts of an entrepreneur's marketing materials.   

You can get more of Jessica live during our teleclass, "The Entrepreneur's Resume: How to Write and Design One".