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I'm using the following format for a work experience title line in my resume, and it's causing a formatting issue

Dates - Left Justified | Company Name - Centered | Address/State - Right Justified

Ex:

Jan 2000 - May 2012 | My really long fully spelled out company name here | Big City Name, ST

this is causing things to run together on the line and/or to overflow the text onto a new line.

I'm considering using the abbreviation of the company name as seen on logos, but I am not sure if this is OK or not.

Is it OK to abbreviate a long company name for the sake of formatting your resume? And if so, then where do you include the full name of the company if the abbreviation is relatively unknown or misleading in some way?

My other alternative would be to reformat the title line of this section and all other work experience sections into a multiline format.

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Please see FAQ - questions related to reviewing resumes are considered off topic. –  enderland Dec 10 '12 at 15:08
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Could you use a slightly smaller font, or adjust the kerning? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Dec 10 '12 at 15:28
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I don't see this entirely as a resume-reviewing question of the sort that is off-topic per the FAQ, but it would be better if @lawrencek (or others) could edit the question to be less about the minute detail of this particular line on this particular resume and more about how and when to abbreviate for readers who may not be familiar with the original (e.g. you can use "IBM" and not "International Business Machines" but what about others?) –  jcmeloni Dec 10 '12 at 16:31
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@enderland I think that line is there to prevent the "here's my resume, please tell me if it's OK or not" kind of questions. This question should be fine, as it's asking how to format a specific part of a resume which is causing problems due to its length –  Rachel Dec 10 '12 at 19:11
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Who is imposing length/layout restrictions on you? The arcane notion that resumes should fit on one page is nice in theory, but for professionals, or people who have been in the job market for any significant length of time, this arbitrary length restriction is essentially impossible to meet. If it is a professional resume, and you've already removed all of the fluff, and you still have more than one page, then abandon the arbitrary restriction and use two pages. The people who have to read your resume without needing a magnifying glass will thank you for it. –  Robert Harvey Dec 10 '12 at 22:43
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I have something similar to this on my resume. I worked at a company named Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of North America. On my resume I use MMMNA (Mitsubishi). No one in the area knows it by its official name anyway. Almost everyone in the area simply refers to it as Mitsubishi.

The goal of the resume is to get potential employers thinking (and hopefully talking) about what you want them to think about. There is no value in them trying to decipher what the really long official name of the company really is. You want your potential employers thinking about you not your former employer. Give the abbreviation, and if there is a short name the company is known as put it in parenthesis. If they have questions about it anyway they will ask in the interview. So long as you are not trying to deceive them about your work the manager will understand and probably appreciate your efforts to make it more understandable.

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This depends on an important factor: are these length and layout restrictions being imposed by a potential employer, or are they your own formatting choices?

If they are being imposed by a potential employer, you should (within reason) conform to them. Abbreviate as necessary to fit, but make sure it's still clear what company you mean. If it's an abbreviation commonly used for logos and such, it's likely sufficient to identify the company. If the company is imposing a certain format, than resume readers/screeners are going to be using that format to their advantage, filtering out those that don't comply and more easily processing those who do (since they know just where to look for the information then need).

If, however, these restrictions are just they way you decided to lay out your resume, then you should reconsider. Your resume is about presenting your information in a concise, reader-friendly way. A nice format/design can help with that, but your resume is not about fitting your information into a nice format. Choose a format that better serves the information you want/need to include. Since the purpose of the formatting is to highlight the important parts of your resume (only yours, and only with the information you currently include), you shouldn't set rules that are broken by the very information that are trying to guide.

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If you only need a couple of characters, I'd be more tempted to abbreviate the years to 00 and 12 instead of 2000 and 2012 to free up a few characters and prevent the dilemma on the company name.

Something to consider is what is the point of the resume. My understanding is that it is used to get an interview to further discuss the position and how well one fits into that role. Abbreviations may work as long as they aren't getting into areas near offensive language, e.g. French Connection in the UK has an acronym that would be near an English swear word, at least to my mind. If there are questions about where you worked this is something to be discussed in the interview unless you believe the company is the kiss of death in terms of anyone wanting someone that worked there.

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