When you apply for a new job, your resume needs to paint an instant picture of you and your qualifications for employers. However, if your resume format isn’t the right one for your unique background, it could be doing you more harm than good. Here are some tips about how to format a resume that, rather than holding you back, gets you one step closer to your ideal job.
First, your resume needs at least three easy-to-read sections that give employers the basics about you, regardless of the job you’re seeking or how long you’ve been working. Start with a header that provides your full name and phone number/email as well as city of residence.
Next, you need an “Experience” section to show potential employers that your work background lines up with the requirements in the job posting. See “Resume Format Options for Your Experience Section,” below, for more information about your options here.
Note that whichever format you choose for this section, you need to be as descriptive as possible for each job you list. Use action words to describe your day-to-day duties and achievements so employers can see that you have the skills to perform the job you are seeking. Even if you don’t have the exact experience stated in the job description, you may have abilities that easily transfer from one position to another. Think hard about how to make your unique background most relevant for the jobs to which you apply.
Following your experience, create an “Education” section to offer employers information about your academic background. List your degrees or certifications here so everyone can see both your specialized training and your ability to stick with a long-term commitment.
Resume Format Options for Your Experience Section
There are two resume format options most job seekers commonly use. One is a chronological format, in which your job history is laid out in the order of every job performed, starting with your most recent position. Use this resume format if you have a work history that is more or less in the same field or if you are a new graduate.
If, however, you have made career changes or have breaks in your work history, a functional resume or chronological-functional hybrid resume is the way to go. This type of resume format groups your jobs by the type of industry they were in, which may not always be in chronological order. This puts your most important background at the top of your resume where screeners see it immediately. The format also makes gaps in your resume harder to detect.
While many people have been using the conventional chronological format because they learned it years ago, a hybrid resume can often be better. You don’t want employers to miss vital work experience because it’s buried on page two of your resume.
Additional Resume Tips
To show you have an interest in a certain field or to help fill out a sparse resume, include volunteer work, too. Leave graduation dates off your resume as these can reveal too much about your age.
Leave off information about personal interests, references and salary requirements unless you are specifically asked to include them. Your resume should be approximately one page for every 10 years of work.
There are more great resume format tips waiting for you at LiveCareer, including how to write an excellent “Skills” or “Summary” section to further strengthen your resume.