The Purpose of Resumes
Your resume is a key job-hunting tool, it summarizes your accomplishments, your education, as well as your work experience, and should reflect your special mix of skills and strengths.
A resume – even the best resume – will not get you the job; the resume is simply a marketing tool to get you into the door.
A resume is a statement of facts designed to sell your unique mix of education, experience, accomplishments, and skills to a prospective employer. Never lie or stretch the facts; do not get creative when identifying your job titles, dates of employment , or accomplishments. On the other hand, do not be modest; be clear about successes and accomplishments – and quantify whenever possible.
Key Attributes of All Resumes
Regardless of the type of resume you create, a number of key elements overlap all successful resumes:
- Contact Information. Since your goal is for an employer to contact you – either for a first interview or for a follow-up interview, — you must give employers as many ways to reach you as possible, including postal mailing address, email address, home phone number, cell phone, etc.
- Accomplishments. Focus the descriptions of your experiences on accomplishments, not duties and responsibilities. Accomplishments, especially those you can quantify, will sell you to a potential employer.
- Education/Training. Include all the pertinent information regarding education, degrees, training, and certifications. Spell out names of degrees. Include the educational institution’s name and location. If currently enrolled in an educational program, list expected graduation month and year. Graduates should list graduation year if within the last 10 years.
- Appearance. The first impression of your resume – and of you as a job-seeker – comes from your resume’s appearance. Your resume should be well-organized with consistent headings, fonts, bullets, and style. Never overcrowd the resume. Leave some “white space” so that important points can stand out; and try to make your margins between .75 and 1 on all sides. For print resumes, use subdued color paper, such as white, ivory, beige, light gray.
- Avoidance of Typos/Misspellings. Take the time to carefully write, rewrite, and edit your resume. Be sure to meticulously proofread your resume for misspellings and typos.
- Targeted and focused. Tailor your basic resume to specific jobs and specific employers. There is simply no excuse for having one generic resume anymore. Tweak each resume you submit to the specific job you are seeking or to the specific employer.
Which Organizational Format?
One of the first decisions job-seekers must make when preparing their resume is how to organize the resume’s content. Today’s
resumes generally are:
- Chronological (reverse chronological, listing all your experience from last to least recent).
- Functional (skills-based), which lists experience in skills clusters.
- A combination of hybrid of those two types, sometimes known as a chrono-functional format.
The traditional, default format for resumes is the chronological resume. This type of resume is organized by your employment history in reverse chronological order, with job titles/names of employers/locations of employers/dates of employment/accomplishments, working backwards 10-15 years.
A standard chronological resume may be your best choice if most/all of your experience has been in one field, you have no large employment gaps, and you plan to stay in that same field.
The chronological resume is preferred by the widest variety of employers, as well as by recruiters and many of the Internet job boards. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to like this resume format because it’s easy to read and clearly demonstrates your job history and career advancement/growth. This format is also recommended for all conservative career fields (such as accounting, banking, law, etc.) and international job-seeking.