In this last of my four part series on tuning up your resume, I’d like to cover some format and content suggestions.
There are two basic resume formats: the “chronological” format and the “functional” format. In the chronological format, you list your employers in date order, beginning with your most recent employer and working backwards. With the functional resume format, you list all your skills and education first, emphasizing those aspects of your resume. You then list your employment history after that, as a simple list of prior employers with only the dates of employment.
As you might imagine, the chronological resume is the most common and the correct one to use for the majority of people. It’s also the format most preferred by hiring managers.
The functional resume is best used if you’ve had a lot of different employers and have changed jobs frequently. You can somewhat downplay a spotty work record by using a functional resume format and concentrating on your skills and education. If you’ve changed jobs frequently and are using the chronological format with poor results, try converting your resume to a functional format. You may find that you get a better response.
For more information about these formats and when to use them, please see the resume section of our website at: http://www.job-search-steps.com/make-a-resume.html.
Once you’ve decided on the right format, there are some important points to consider when presenting your information.
First, use bullet statements for the majority of your material. Your summary statement should be a sentence or two with some bullets. Each job on your resume should have a very short paragraph to describe the job and then several bullets for your experience and accomplishments. The same goes when listing your education, certifications, and very specific technical skills. These should be presented primarily as bullet points.
The reason to use bullets generously is that it creates “white space” on your resume and makes it much easier to read. A well organized resume with half or more of the content presented as bullets will stand a much better chance of being read.
Second, use bold and underlining sparingly, but do use them. I like to see the applicant’s name and the names of previous employers in bold because it saves me time as I scan a resume. I like to see position titles underlined for the same reason. To see a good example of how bold and underlining should be used, see our chronological resume sample at: http://www.job-search-steps.com/chronological-resume.html.
Finally, I shouldn’t have to say it (but I will!), proofread your resume thoroughly. Don’t depend on the spell checker/grammar checker in your word processor, as it will almost certainly miss words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly. Proofread every word manually and then have a trusted friend proofread it again for you. Then, as a final check, read your resume out loud to yourself, as this will help you catch awkward phrases.
Now that your resume is tuned-up and polished, good luck with your job applications.
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