A checklist for successIs your resume a relic? Chances are, if you havent actively updated it in the past year, or if you dont havea few different versions of it, in more than one resume format, the document is a dinosaur.Advances in technology in the past several years have made resumes more powerful than ever, but youneed to do a little initial work (and then maintenance work) to make them work for you.But how do you know which resume formats are best for your particular job search? This article shows youhow to create a customized resume that ends up in the hire pile, not the circular file.Choosing the right resume formatIn resume design, there are three basic organization types: chronological, functional, and combination. Thechronological resume format lists job and education history in a reverse chronological order, making it easyfor employers to see the applicants career progression.The functional resume format concentrates on pertinent skills and abilities. Names of employers, dates andeducation history details are omitted and the information is not presented chronologically.The combination resume format is for some candidates the best of both worlds, presenting relevant skillsand abilities in chronological order. So, which resume is for you?Chronological Resume FormatsMost employers prefer chronological resume formats because they are easy to read and generally makesalient points quickly and concisely. Most applicants choose this type of document.As with all resume formats, first list your name, address, and contact information. Next, a targetedsummary or objective statement will help the reader know at a glance if you might be a match.Starting with your most recent position, list your employer, including location, dates, job titles, anddescriptions of your tasks, accomplishments and skills, using concise, action-oriented words.End with education, special skills and any relevant awards, honors, or accolades.More chronological considerations Include only the most important information about each position. Be specific rather than general in your descriptions, using concise and vivid language. Quantify the impact of your actions in your previous positions. Facts, figures, and numbers help to do this. For example: How many accounts did you work on? How many employees did you supervise? Be sure to include a list of key contributions or achievements. Find key words and terminology in the job advertisement and use them in your resume. Dont use unnecessary prose. Have an editorially minded friend help cut out extra words.Functional Resume FormatsApplicants such as recent graduates, career changers, and parents returning to the work force may choose afunctional resume format to highlight skills instead of a spotty or atypical career path.A skill-oriented resume format allows you to focus on your abilities and point out what you would bring to aparticular job. This resume should be as targeted as possible in order to gain attention.Start with your contact information and include a precisely worded summary or objective statement thatdraws a distinct parallel between your strengths and the jobs requirements.
Include education, awards and any volunteer positions youve held.Make it highly functional Choose three or four pertinent skills (e.g. Marketing and Sales, Leadership, etc.) and use them as headers followed by bullets delineating your accomplishments within that field. Recent graduates, list student government, athletics, community work, and other extra-curricular pursuits and describe the skills you presented in carrying out those activities. If you volunteered at your childs school, took care of a sick parent, or served as the executor of a relatives will, it took talent. Describe all the skills you demonstrated. If you have even one or two relevant work experiences, consider a combination resume.Â Combination Resume FormatsFunctional resumes sometimes scare away hiring managers, who, after all, have piles of papers to wadethrough and may become suspicious or irritated when faced with missing dates or titles.So, if you cant use chronological resume formats due to gaps or too little (or too much) experience,consider the combination option and add as many concise, chronological elements as possible.Start with an attention-getting and pertinent description of your applicable skills. Then, lead off with clearlydefined accomplishments, followed by jobs, dates, titles, awards, and education.Combination considerationsObviously, your combination resume will be tailored to your unique situation. Here are some tips to considerwhen balancing function with chronology Remember that the sooner your reader is interested, the greater your chance of having your resume read. Be sparkling upfront. Get across your value as soon as possible. Be sure the accomplishments you list are relevant to this position. In as few words as possible, call out your pertinent skills and responsibilities. If your past jobs have little relevance to the desired position, simply list the titles and dates (if appropriate), without going into detail about job requirements.Targeted Resume FormatsThis is an outdated category, since, with unemployment rates so high, technology so advanced, andcompetition for each job so great, every resume needs to be a specifically targeted resume.Even if you include a personalized cover letter for each job (which you definitely should), you still need tocustomize the resume, even if its as simple as changing a word in the summary.This is particularly important in electronic resumes, which are often searchable. This means employers canchoose or eliminate resumes without ever looking at them, simply because they have or lack a certainkeyword or search term.More targeting tipsAlways write a resume with a particular job posting in mind. Even if you use an existing document as atemplate, edit it to perfectly fit the new positions description and requirements.If you have held positions which are similar but differ slightly, such as sales and marketing, be sure toemphasize the aspects of your experience that the desired job requires.If your existing resume doesnt include many key terms from the job ad, see how you can edit yourdescriptions to fit them in. Make it clear that this job is exactly what you are suited to do.
The electronic resumeNo longer is it enough to have a stack of nice, crisp, white or cream-colored paper resumes that you editmaybe once or twice a year and hand out or mail whenever a desired job is posted.Yes, you still need an elegant paper resume to hand out at interviews, but most companies want anelectronic version since theyre easier to read, organize and scan for keywords.Theyre also much easier for you to edit, forward and upload to job search databases and social networkingsites like LinkedIn and Facebook that give your resume increased visibility.More tips for the e-resumeThe e-version of your resume can easily reach thousands of potential employers, so take advantage ofcareer websites that allow you to post it and make it public.E-resume pre-screening is done on a keyword basis. Employers can reach out to you when keywords in yourdocument match their hiring needs, so keep your online resumes up to date.When emailing a resume, attach an e-version, but also copy the same information in the body of the emailin case the employer cant open the attachment.Bonus tip: Create job alerts at sites like Salary.com to get relevant job ads emailed to you.On the subject of subject lines...Just like paper resumes can sink in a sea of paper, emailed resumes risk getting lost in a crowded inbox. Atthe very least, include your last name and the position for which you are applying in the subject line soemployers can easily pick out your email.It might also help to create a more compelling, but short, subject line, announcing yourself in a way thatgets noticed. E.g.: "Ted Smith, your next top salesman." But use your discretion. This might backfire in avery serious company. And dont use all caps or words like "amazing" and "Read now" that could triggerspam filters.Basic resume formats dos and dontsKeep the layout clean and easy to read to pull in the reader. Use high quality ivory or white paper and stickwith one standard font, using bold and italics if necessary. Avoid excess formatting on electronic versions.Begin with your name, address, e-mail and phone number(s) to make it easy for a potential employer tocontact you, but avoid giving personal information such as Social Security number, age, height, weight, etc.If possible, keep your resume to one page, and dont exceed two pages. A short, concise representation ofyour work history, experience and education is most likely to be read.Present a precisely worded, short objective or summary to grab an employers attention. Read the job adclosely to determine what the employer wants and then customize your message accordingly.The experience section of your resume follows the objective. List your employers, job location, employmentdates, job titles, and descriptions of tasks, accomplishments and skills.Your education comes next, and should include college, degree, and any honors you received.Be sure to include relevant awards or special recognition if you have received any. These are "eye catchers"that will keep the reader interested.In resume formatting, clean and simple wins the race
In todays competitive job market, its important that you help employers see the benefits of hiring you oversomeone else. A clean, simple resume stating your value is the first step.Make sure it is formatted so potential employers can identify it, open it, read it, search it and immediatelycomprehend its main point - that hiring you is a winning proposition.