Resumes are the cornerstone of most job searches. Candidates spend hours creating and polishing the perfect resume to be the best representation of their abilities and accomplishments. Candidates can use different resumes for different purposes and job applications. Most candidates should choose between a chronological and functional resume.
Resumes often create the first impression as you are applying for a job. A functional resume can be used to target specific transferable skills that a job is seeking. This is helpful for someone trying to change careers or industries. Employers use software tools and personal preferences to sort through large numbers of resumes. Mistakes or a sloppy resume will automatically disqualify a candidate. Resumes also allow people to highlight the most relevant jobs or accomplishments.
An effective resume provides a picture of a candidate that includes work experience, accomplishments, skills, knowledge, education, awards, specific expertise and career or job objective. The resume communicates this information to the employers. When resumes are submitted electronically, companies often use software to sort them. This software is designed to pick key words such as specific experience or certification and action words that demonstrate performance.
Chronological resumes present information in calendar order beginning with the most recent position. Functional resumes divide skills and accomplishments among relevant headings. A curriculum vitae (CV) is a longer, detailed document used primarily by scientists and academia to include a long list of publications and research. A good candidate often creates more than one resume. These can be targeted to different types of jobs or companies with varying objectives or skills and accomplishments highlighted. A chronological resume is best for applying for a similar job in the same industry, or the next step up, while a functional resume is more relevant if a change in career direction is sought.
Chronological resumes should be no longer than two pages. A one page resume is preferable, particularly for candidates with less than five years of work experience. If an individual has worked in the same types of jobs for different employers identical information should not be repeated.
A functional resume should be no longer than two pages. The first page describes the skills and accomplishments and the second includes job history, education and training information.
All resumes should include relevant details and specifics. A better picture is given when a resume says, "Increased sales by 68%" than, "Responsible for large sales increase." A variety of action words make a resume stronger. These include; directed, negotiated, managed, created, conducted, completed, designed and selected among many others. The same action word should not be repeated. When action words are combined with specifics, "Managed a team of five professionals in remote locations," a clear picture is created.
Word processing programs typically come with templates for creating resumes. These can be a start but should not be relied on for an entire format. So many candidates use these templates that they all begin to look the same for a recruiter. The format should be clean, clear and legible but not flamboyant. Resumes are often sent electronically so it helps to email a copy to yourself to make certain that the formatting works. Bringing a hard copy of a resume to an interview is also a good idea, this makes it easy for the interviewer and when additional interviews are added.
Proofread all resumes obsessively. There is nothing worse than a typo in a resume. It is helpful to have someone else read it, out loud. Whenever someone helps create or revise a resume the candidate should be able to speak about the content and make any changes if necessary. Inaccurate information on a resume will result in disqualification when reference checks are performed. Never assume that an employer does not check. Fudging titles, adding jobs or education and creating promotions have ruined people's careers when they are identified after employment begins.