Consider your resume your personal agent. It should represent you in the best possible light to a potential employer, promoting your skills, talents and experience. Successful resumes look polished, speak well, and tell the whole story in concise, articulate language. Every 'i' must be dotted and every 't' must be crossed-one typing error or misspelled word could cost you a job. You should proofread your resume carefully on a hard copy, and then pass it someone else to scrutinize before you fax, mail, drop off or e-mail it. No matter how qualified you may be for a job, if your resume is not perfectly presented, it may not make it to the list of "potential candidates."
Make sure to include all contact information, which these days may involve a variety of numbers including cell, phone and fax, and an e-mail address. Generally, this is placed at the top under your name.
Employers now expect resumes to be presented in one of three standard formats, which are described below. And, depending upon your needs, there are a few additional ways to enhance the style you have chosen, such as including a quote from a reference letter. More enhancement ideas are outlined below.
There are three basic styles of resumes that employers expect to receive: chronological, functional and combination. Each one is organized differently and each has its pros and cons. The following descriptions will help you decide which one is most likely to land you a job in your field.
In this style, you list your last job first, showing work experience in reverse chronological order.
Who should use
This benefits those with much experience in a particular career.
- Allows for different formatting to include key words and career highlights.
- Human Resources interviewers, recruiters, and employers seem to prefer this format.
- Easiest to prepare since it is arranged by titles, companies and dates.
- Reveals employment gaps. (It is recommended that any gaps are explained in your cover letter, such as family responsibilities or educational opportunities.
- May not emphasize areas that you want to show off.
- Skills and achievements at last position must match current position search.
This style combines the skills and achievement section from the functional format with the employment history listing from the chronological format.
Who should use
This is a good format for almost anyone; however, re-entry people, recent graduates and career changers find it particularly useful. It must be well written and laid out, however, to keep an employer's attention.
- Provides opportunity to emphasize the applicant's most relevant skills and abilities.
- Order of sections on the combination resume can be changed to market yourself in the best possible light.
- Provides opportunity to highlight skills, while showing evidence of employment.
- Good tool for almost anyone; however, re-entry people, recent college graduates and career changers find it particularly useful.
- Employers lose interest quickly unless it is very well written and attractively laid out.
This style focuses on achievements.
Job seekers with specific skill sets and re-entry people and recent grads may find this style effect.
- Organizes work experience into skill clusters.
- Dates and places of employment are left out.
- A special section, Analysis of Experience, is written instead of listing employment history. Usually, three to four areas are emphasized, showing results and accomplishments.
- Sections may be arranged in any order.
- Stresses selected skills and experience areas that are marketable or in demand.
- Helps to camouflage a spotty employment record.
- Allows the applicant to emphasize professional growth.
- Positions not related to current career goals can be down played.
- Employers are careful, and they may want to see additional work history information.
- This type does not allow you to highlight companies or organizations for which you have worked.