Choosing the Proper Resume Format (page 2)
This article will show you how to select a format in your resume-writing process. The format determines how you organize and display the information.
The resume format you choose should be based on several different criteria, including:
- Personal preference—When it comes down to it, you need to create a document you believe best showcases your skills, capabilities, and experience. Because your resume is being designed to promote you, it's only fitting that the format of the document be based partially on your personal taste. You will want to adhere to the main structure of whatever resume format you select, but there is room to add a touch of creativity. For example, Chapter 1 showed five different ways to lay out the heading (including centered, left justified, and right justified), which includes your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.
- Your employment history—Depending on your personal circumstances, the format you choose can highlight your strengths while downplaying your weaknesses and any negative information in your employment history. Job searchers who have large gaps in their employment histories or who have jumped between jobs often should use a different resume format than someone who has a consistent employment history. Likewise, someone with little or no real-world work experience should create a resume using a different format than someone who has been working in the same industry for ten years.
- The job you're applying for—If you're applying for a traditional job at a small company, for example, you will probably want to use a printed resume, using a standard chronological format. If you're applying for a job at a dot-com or high-tech company, you will probably want to create an electronic resume and submit it via the Internet or e-mail. If a job at a large corporation seems more appealing, your resume will likely be scanned into applicant-tracking software and not initially read by a human. To prepare for this, you will want to create a keyword-based resume.
- The employer you're submitting your resume to—Employers typically have specific guidelines for resume submissions. For example, some only accept traditional printed resumes, whereas others prefer to receive an electronic file in a particular format (such as Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format, or ASCII). When an employer states a defined resume submission policy, it's important for you to precisely adhere to that procedure in order to be considered for the job opening.
As you read this articler, think about the types of jobs for which you will be applying, and determine which resume format best suits your needs. Keep in mind, it may be necessary to create several versions of your resume based on the type of job you're hoping to land. For example, you may want to have a traditional printed resume ready to submit to companies where you know an HR person (or executive) will be reading the resume, and also have a keyword version of your resume ready to send to companies using applicant-tracking software.
Once you have your basic resume completely written, modifying it to fit another format will be a far less time-consuming task, but one that could make the difference between receiving a job offer and having to continue your job search.
To be the most competitive as an applicant, it's an excellent idea to create a traditional printed resume and then modify that resume into both a scannable (a resume that contains the same basic information as a traditional resume, but focuses on the use of keywords) and an electronic resume.
As the name suggests, an electronic (or digital) resume is not printed on paper. It's created on a computer, using a word processor, resume-creation software, or online resume form, then submitted to a potential employer using the Web (usually via e-mail). This way, no matter how a potential employer requests resumes to be submitted, you will be prepared.
Traditional Printed Resumes
Traditional resumes are printed on standard 8½-by-11-inch paper and are prepared using one of the resume formats described in this section. Until recently, this type of resume was by far the most popular. However, a growing number of employers (of all sizes and in all industries) are using computer technology to assist them with recruiting needs. Thus, some companies are taking advantage of applicant-tracking software and scanning resumes into a computerized database, and others have begun accepting resumes via e-mail or through one of the popular career-related websites. For companies that scan resumes or accept resumes electronically, a traditional printed resume isn't suitable.
A traditional printed resume is most suitable if:
- You're applying for a job at a small- to medium-size company that doesn't scan resumes into a computer database or use applicant-tracking software.
- You're attending a career fair and plan to distribute your resume to participating employers.
- You're meeting with an HR professional or recruiter in person.
- You're responding to a help-wanted ad or job posting that lists a mailing address as opposed to an e-mail address or website for submitting resumes.
The chronological resume format is the most popular. This format requires you to list your educational background and employment history in reverse chronological order (by date), starting with your most recent schooling and job. This format makes it easy for a potential employer who reads your resume to quickly see a summary of your qualifications. This resume format also allows you to demonstrate a progressive work history.
The Chronresume Format
The chronological format is the most popular out of all the different formats for traditional printed resumes because it's extremely easy for an employer to quickly see a summary of your work experience, skills, and education. The majority of job seekers use this format, especially those who have a consistent employment record and at least some work experience to showcase.
List your employment and education information in reverse chronological order. For example, in the Employment section of your resume, start with your most recent job or work experience, and go backwards in time as you progress down the page. Each past employer is listed separately, and each should include:
- Your dates of employment—When listing the dates of employment, use years only (1992–1996 or 1995 to Present). It's usually not necessary in your resume to list months you began or finished a job (June 1992–September 1996).
- Your job title
- The employer's name
- A brief listing of your primary accomplishments and the skills you used
Using the chronological resume format, Exhibit 3–1 is an example of what one of the listings might look like under the Employment section of your resume.
For recent jobs, provide the most detail and information, especially when listing primary responsibilities and achievements. Three to five bulleted items are appropriate. For less recent jobs, include only two, or at most three, bulleted items for each.
The primary purpose of this resume format is to show you've been steadily employed. It can demonstrate upward or lateral mobility in your career path as you have moved from job to job. Assuming you have work experience to properly use this resume format, you will be able to demonstrate career direction. The job for which you are curently applying should be the next step up from your most recent work experience.
If you're a recent graduate, on the Employment section of your resume, be sure to include part-time jobs, after-school jobs, internships, and volunteer work. This allows you to showcase whatever real-world experience you have and highlight the work-related skills employers will be interested in.
"If you are using a recruiter in the industry where your experience lies, always use the chronological format. It's difficult to highlight your actual job experience in a functional format. You might miss out on a wonderful job opportunity if you don't seriously consider the format of your resume."
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