Resume Format Tips

A good resume that presents your information in the correct format is your most important job searching tool.

If you are job hunting, you know that one of the most important tools at your disposal is your resume. If you've been working at the same job for a long time, you may not have needed to put together a resume for many years. However, the job market is volatile these days and your situation could change quickly. Or you may simply wish to look for a better job. Whatever your situation, you'll benefit from thinking about how to best present yourself in a resume. One of the first questions you're likely to ask yourself is what format should I use?

There are two main types of resume format. The first is a chronological format, and the second is a skills format.

The chronological format presents your work history in chronological order, usually from the most recent job backward. This is a good format to use if you have a solid employment history with a steady career development curve. In this format you can demonstrate your dependability and professional growth.

If you are just out of school or returning to the workforce, or if you have holes in your work history, you may choose to use a skills format for your resume.

In the skills format, you target the skills you offer, using your work history to support these skills rather than as the core of the resume. This format will enable you to list time spent performing the various skills described without listing the exact dates you worked the jobs. Remember too that you can include volunteer or other unpaid experience in skills you list in your resume.

Many resumes are actually a hybrid of chronological and skills based resume forms. Remember that there is no fixed rule for how to put together your resume. Your highest criteria are to create a resume that works and will capture the employer's attention and present you as a serious contender for the position you seek.

You will hear talk about the targeted resume. The targeted resume is not actually a separate format. It is instead a combination of style and information that focuses on your qualifications for a specific job. You will want to do this with every job for which you apply, or every business to which you send your resume.

What you NEED to include:

Name, address, phone, email, fax and other contact information

Job Objective




Optional to include:

Skills and Qualifications

General Abilities

Awards Received

Licenses and Certifications

Other Qualifications

Think about what the employer wants to hear, and focus on that. Employers and Human Resource people are busy and see many resumes. Make sure yours will stand out. Avoid overusing I and my in your sentences and go straight to the action words and the activities performed. You are the subject of your resume and the reader knows who is being discussed.

There are many type fonts and sizes as well as formatting styles available to create an effective, impressive resume. However, it is important that your resume format should be easy to read. You can use a combination of fonts and sizes of type, bold and italic letters, and regular and upper case letters to organize and accentuate information, but make sure that the information doesn't get lost in the formatting.

You may choose to use a resume wizard or template. If you do, be aware that you will not be able to change much of the pre-set format. You will have to work with the format as it stands, and it may be preset for a type of resume different from the one you wish to use.

You will run into a similar situation if completing a resume online. Many online resume formats are limited and will only accept preset answers from pull-down menus or other format choices. They also may have word limits for areas in which you can type your own text. If you expect to fill out resumes online, you will do well to have an all purpose resume from which you can copy information so that you don't have to improvise and remember while learning to work with a new format.

Another type of resume you may need to work with is the scannable or text resume. This type is called a text resume because it consists only of words, without any special formatting. It is scanned into a database and then searched for certain words and phrases. If you are asked to submit a scannable resume it is important to know the relevant industry keywords and phrases the employer will be searching for as resumes which do not include them will be discarded. If you need to submit such a resume, make sure you familiarize yourself with acronyms and other specialized jargon of the profession to which you are applying.

When you put together a scannable resume use a simple font and a normal text size. Don't use any bullets, columns or special text, and justify all text to the left. Include all the usual relevant information and be sure to put in the keywords and other relevant text. Use white paper, and a good quality printer. Send an original, unfolded copy in a flat envelope so that the scanner can read it easily. Your goal in using this format is to be selected rather than discarded. Once your resume is selected you will have a chance to demonstrate the skills you have that go beyond those which are scannable.

Another less common resume form is the curriculum vitae. This specialized form is the exception to the rule that a resume should be only one page long. The curriculum vitae form is required for some healthcare, scientific or academic positions or internships, as well as for jobs in some foreign countries. It is a complete and detailed history of your experience, education and qualifications in a well organized format, and may be as many as ten pages long. Because it is a complex and specialized form, you may find it worthwhile to get help from a resume specialist to create your curriculum vitae, to make sure that you don't leave out important details.

In most situations, a simple resume is the best. If you accompany your resume with a cover letter which supports and enhances it in targeting how you can meet the employer's needs in the position for which you are applying, you've done your best to get an interview and secure yourself the position you want.

Remember that your resume opens the door to the interviewing room. Take your time and make sure that you choose the information and the format that are suitable to the job for which you are applying. Such a resume will present you in the best possible light while making sure that the employer takes you seriously.

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