How to Write a Resume
Being employed is extremely important in today's society and harder than ever due to increasing competition. One document that is vital to increasing the chances that one becomes employed is the resume.
A resume is a brief document that lists one's objective, qualifications, education, past employment and any other relevant information that may spark interest from an employer.
It should be noted that in order for a resume to be successful, it should achieve one major goal, which is piquing the interest of an employer and subsequently landing you an opportunity to interview for the job.
General Resume Suggestions to Keep in Mind
In order to write a successful resume, there are a few things to keep in mind including:
- There are several formats to use when creating a resume; however, generally speaking a resume should not be longer than one page in length. A resume's goal is not to give your entire life story, but to give the employer a good impression of whether or not you qualify for a position. Many employees that have been working in a career for a long period of time feel obligated to write a resume that is several pages long. Again, a resume should not exceed one page in length.
- Another important suggestion when creating your resume is to make the focus about the future and not your past employment. It is true that employers would like to know your track record and your past accomplishments, however they are far more concerned with what you are able to provide in the near and long term future. Keep this point in mind when writing your resume.
- Resumes should be relevant. Make sure your resume is to the point and communicates the essentials. Don't waste your time adding big words in the hopes of looking smart; most HR recruiters are not impressed. Rather write a clear, concise resume that sticks to the basics and your chances of becoming recognized will be far greater.
- When writing your resume, expect that it will take time. Don't spend only 20 minutes writing your resume, it will not be up to par. A resume while only one page in length should be developed and constructed over several hours. Take several days to a week to truly think about and ultimately construct your resume.
- Do note that most employers will thoroughly check out the information listed on your resume. For instance, many employers will contact your last or previous employers, contact the school that you stated you graduated from, etc. So make sure you do not lie on your resume. Lying on one's resume has become commonplace and employers have begun to take notice.
There are two major types of resume formats that are used in business; they are the Functional Resume and the Chronological Resume. While both are used extensively in the marketplace, the most popular type of resume is the Chronological Resume. It should be noted that you do not necessarily need to use the most popular type of format for the best results. Many savvy job seekers choose between these two formats to pick the one that fits their needs the best.
The Chronological Resume Format
This resume format is the most popular format used in the marketplace today. The chronological resume has many strengths and the main purpose of this type of resume is to highlight your skills and job titles in a chronological manner. It should be noted that when creating your chronological resume, list your most recent job first.
Tips on When to Use a Chronological Resume
There are several instances where a chronological resume can be beneficial. Here are some tips on when to use the chronological format.
- Use a chronological resume when your main job seeking goal is to find a position that is similar and in the same field as your current or last job position.
- For those that would like to show exceptional achievements in their current or last job position, a chronological resume can be beneficial to showcasing them.
- It's a good idea to use a chronological resume if you have a solid work history with no gaps. In addition, besides showing a solid work history, a chronological resume can also help one show growth in a particular field or position.
The Functional Resume Format
The functional resume format is not as popular as the chronological resume, but can be just as effective to land a job interview. Most job seekers use the functional resume format for seeking specific opportunities. One of the strengths of a functional resume is that it focuses on experience and skills (which are usually placed under the skill heading). A functional resume helps a job seeker focus on the attributes that make him or her most marketable to an employer.
In addition, functional resumes are a great way to make an impact if you don't want to show or have a long work history or if you have lots of gaps in your work history. While most job seekers do list their past job history, the emphasis is always on the skills, experience and achievements.
Tips on When to Use a Functional Resume
There are several instances where a functional resume can be beneficial:
- One of the best uses for a functional resume is when you would like to switch from one career to another.
- If you have been away from the workforce for a significant amount of time and are now reentering the workforce, a functional resume can be extremely beneficial.
- For students who have graduated from college and do not have any past job experience, a functional resume can highlight their achievements, special skills and experiences.
- A functional resume can also be a good choice if your current position is not that impressive or does not reflect the skills you have.
The Major Parts of a Resume
Both resume formats consist of specific parts, they include the heading, job objective, skills section, education section and job experience section.
The Heading Section
The heading is the part of the resume where you list your contact information. Practically all headings are set at the top of the page in an easy to read location. Your heading should include the following information:
- Your full name. If you go by a specific name in your profession, make this information known to the potential employer.
- Your phone number. Obviously list your landline number, it is your option to also list a mobile number, etc.
- Your email address. Today, it is common to list an email address where a potential employer can contact you or send you files and more information about the company. Make sure your email address is business appropriate.
- Your address. You should note that your address could be an important indicator to your potential employer as to how close you live to the work location. In many situations, your address can be a plus or work against you.
- Your website. For some job seekers, your website may be a beneficial piece of information to include, especially if you are a graphic artist and have a portfolio available for view online.
The Job Objective
The job objective is one of the most important pieces of information you can write in your resume. The job objective's main goal is to specifically state in a clear and concise manner what position you are seeking. While it might seem obvious, many job seekers bury this information in their resume making it hard for employers to quickly realize the position you are looking for. Recruiters can receive hundreds of resumes per day, so a clear and easy to find job objective will ensure that your resume is categorized appropriately.
When writing a job objective, here are a few tips:
- A job objective should be clear, concise and short. Keep the length of your job objective to one sentence.
- An important tip is to use the job objective to state the exact name of the position you are seeking. If the company uses a specific title for the position that you are seeking, this is what should be listed in your job description – even if it is generally called something else in the marketplace.
The Skills Section
The skills section is where you list any and all skills that you have that might be pertinent to the job position you are seeking. The skill section is an excellent place to show your achievements and competencies. For those writing a functional resume, this is the area to focus on and shine. A properly written skills section will express to your potential employer your experiences, past accomplishments and most importantly what you are capable of accomplishing in the future. Here are a few tips on writing a proficient skills section.
- You want to write about your experiences and what makes you extremely qualified for this specific position. Focus on your strengths and back up any claims with credentials, experience and accomplishments.
- The skills section is the place to sell yourself. Be creative, but to the point.
- While you want to sell yourself and make an extremely good impression, make sure that everything listed is factual. You never want to lie on your resume.
The Education Section
The education section's main purpose is to show the potential employer that you have the proper credentials for the position you are seeking, as well as significant intelligence. Here are some tips on writing a proper education section.
- Some jobs require job seekers to have the proper license to practice a profession, make sure that all licenses and credentials are listed completely so that your potential employer knows you are legally able to perform the job fully.
- List any degrees that you have earned which could be relevant to the job position. In addition, you may also want to list specific classes that are relevant as well.
- Listing membership in a social or academic organization is always a good idea.
- Always list special achievements, especially if they are relevant to the position you are seeking.
- If you have attended more than one school, but have only earned one degree, you can choose to list only the school in which your degree was earned from.
The Job Experience Section
In the job experience section, you will want to list your work history. As stated above, for those creating a chronological resume, it is important to list your current or most recent job first and then work backwards. It should be noted that you do not necessarily have to list every company that you have worked for. Remember, you need to keep your resume to only one page. However, most resume writers include two to three jobs in this section. The following are some tips on writing a proficient job experience section.
- Make sure to include dates of employment. Always list at least the month and the year that you started and finished work with each company. If you are currently an employee, list your start date and mention the word “present”.
- You should always include your official title.
- Include major job responsibilities. In this part of the job experience section, you reinforce your career achievements. For instance, you can state that you were responsible for selling widgets or you can state that during your employment, you sold over 5 million dollars of widgets each year.
Some Final Suggestions to Consider
Writing a resume can be extremely challenging, especially if it has been a while since you were in the workplace. Keep in mind that writing a resume does take time and a lot of effort. A resume will not be complete just after one or two drafts and it must be crafted over a period of time to become extremely effective. Here are some final things to consider when writing your resume.
- Make sure that there are no spelling errors. Keep in mind that resumes are not exactly grammatically correct. However, where full sentences or formatting are involved, make sure there are no errors.
- Look at the many sample resumes online. This will give you some good ideas on how most resumes are formatted and what items should be included.
- Have a friend or two look at your resume. If you have friends in the human resources field, they should be able to give you some great tips.
- When you send your resume by mail make sure that the copy is printed onto quality resume paper and that the printing is clear. For those sending resumes through email, make sure your resume is saved as an attachment that can easily be opened by a potential employer.