Before choosing exactly how to say everything you need to on your resume you will first need to decide on a resume format. The way in which you present your information will help to define its importance and help you in they way your story is told.
Page structure is very important, but lets make one think clear; first things first.
One of the more common ways to begin a resume is with an “objective statement” but you shouldn’t….JUST DON’T; unless you are a new job seeker fresh out of school and you have no prior experience. Wait, that’s still not a good reason to have an objective statement. Basically, the recruiter/hiring manager reviewing your resume understands that you are trying to get a job and grow as a professional, so don’t waste that valuable space telling people what they already know!
Instead of an objective statement utilize a “Proposition Statement” by defining the benefit you will bring to the company. You more than likely were required to get an internship in school which has given you real business experience. In addition, you may have joined clubs or groups at school, you learned “x” in school, or there is that volunteer work you did. There are plenty of things you can include that summarize your strengths and abilities, and how you can apply them specifically to the jobs you are applying for.
Resume Format Selection
Different work histories or career aspirations may call for different types of formatting on a resume. For example, someone looking to show their extensive work history may benefit from a chronological format or someone looking to change careers may benefit from displaying their transferable skills in a functional format. No matter what the chosen format is, the goal will always remain the same. That is, to best display your ability to benefit the employer. Below, are the most common resume formats being used today.
- Chronological – Current or most recent work experience is listed first, followed by your career history going down chronologically. This is a great way to display your experience and progress as a professional in a clear and concise manner.
- Functional – Emphasizes your most relevant skills in relation to the job you are applying for over the individual jobs you have done. These skills are backed up by accomplishments, problems solved, and how the skills allowed you to improve business (metrics improved). However, it is possibly the least favored format by hiring managers/recruiters as it is “unconventional” and creates less focus on where and when you were previously employed (a big factor looked at by employers). So be sure to be able to back up your work dates if asked about them.
- Combination – Uses a variation of chronological and functional formatting. This format is great to show both vertical and lateral movement within one company over a period of time as well as periods of work at other companies. This type of resume is not the most popular; however, it can be very useful if you are making a career change or have a complex work history and need to show how you can apply your prior experience to a new position.
Visual and Content Hierarchy
We have all written papers for school at some point in our lives. Think back on how you wrote a paper and the hierarchy you created within the content. The introduction / thesis statement, creates a central theme or point that you support throughout the paper. The body of the paper keeps a consistent theme but is broken down into sections that explain and support your thesis.
- In the case of your resume, the introduction/thesis statement is your proposition statement.
- Following your chosen format the different areas will support and explain that statement
- Everything that you include should be strengthening your overall message
Typography / Layout
A resume should be written in a similar way to a paper, although in a much less (for lack of a better word), wordier structure. However, specific visual indicators in a resume can do wonders when it comes to it being reviewed positively. Think about the visual implications of how you lay out your text. Large blocks of text will blend together and not catch the eye of the reviewer(s) as they scan the document.
- Concise bulleted statements are easier to scan and are more likely to resonate with the reviewer, rather than being distracted by or overlooking a large block of text.
- How you use your fonts will also create hierarchy. The use of bold and italic fonts will differentiate between important areas of text.
- Font size and color will also help to draw the reviewer’s eye to the important areas of your resume.
- The arrangement of titles and dates in combination with font choices (size, style, color, etc.) will label areas of important information, besides titles and dates
- Spacing is important as well. Try to keep job related information together (like if a couple of bullet points stray off on to the next page).
- Use white space to your advantage, it helps to define your different content areas. Filling every open area of a page with text may help to keep all the information on one page however, this is not necessary.
- Multiple pages are fine if that is what is required. Using tables to block out as much information as possible on one page is distracting and can take away from the value of what you are trying to highlight.
Check out these great templates: