When it comes to resume writing, the content is the most important piece. Formatting plays an important piece in how you present yourself as well. Depending on the job and your personal circumstances, you may be able to increase your chances of being asked in for an interview if you choose the correct format for the situation.
Types of Resumes to Consider
We’re going to look at three types of resumes. While there are variations of these, the three listed here are the ones most commonly used in the job market, and each has its own pros and cons. Consider which is most useful to you for each job application.
The chronological resume is probably the one you learned to write in high school and the most widely used and accepted. It’s a simple reverse order list of your work experiences, with the most recent positions listed first.
This type of resume is best used if you have consistent experience in your field, where you can demonstrate upward mobility and new skills acquired in each of your positions. It’s a great choice to showcase your range of experience in the industry and demonstrate your loyalty to the companies you have worked for.
Of all the resume types, the functional resume is probably the least appreciated. It highlights your skills and education rather than the positions you have held. People use functional resume to focus on the skills a job description requires.
When you haven’t yet worked in the field you are applying for a position in or if you have a gap in your work experience due to extended leave, illness or another reason, you may prefer to point out your skills rather than the fact that you haven’t worked recently. This is also true for those new to the workforce and for anyone who is in the process of switching careers. Keep in mind that this may be a hard sell and it can be more difficult to land an interview with a functional resume.
A targeted resume is similar to a chronological resume, but it is specifically tailored to the position being applied for. In most cases, this means eliminating any experience not related to the position you are interested in, instead focusing on the jobs you have had that relate to this one. The one downside is that it will need to be tailored to each job you apply for, which may be more time consuming.
Writing a Better Resume
Without a well-written resume, your chances of landing the job you want are much lower. Unless you’ve been recommended for the job, this is the hiring manager’s first impression of you. Check, check, and check again the document. Have a friend or two look it over and make sure it is error-free.
You could try combining two types of resumes for a more unique result. For example, you might mix the functional with the chronological format to ensure that the employer has what he is looking for in terms of work history, but rather than lead with your work history, you focus the beginning on the skills you possess that make you a good match for the position.
Don’t be afraid to inject your own personality into the resume, rather than writing it in a mechanical tone. Let the hiring manager know a bit about you through your style of writing before he meets you.
Finally, take a minute to check out some sample resumes to get ideas and to be sure you are on the right path. You’ll find plenty of samples available online (Indeed.com’s resume search and Docstoc.com).
I’m posting again for US News & World Report’s On Careers blog!
Last week I wrote about how LinkedIn Groups can help you build relationships and discover companies/opportunities that may not be posted elsewhere. Read it here.
It’s a great place to connect with like-minded people. My search firm, Paradigm Staffing, created a PR & Communications Jobs Community (come join us!) where we post our open positions and give a place for PR professionals to connect and discuss PR and job search strategies and topics. In the recent months, a topic was posted about age discrimination in the PR industry and it sparked such a lively discussion that several of the group member have taken it offline to create their own cause-related PR firm!
This week I posted about How to Get Your Resume in Front of the Right Person – everything from identifying the hiring manager, cold calling, and customizing your communication to that person is covered.
LinkedIn released data last week in regards to the months people are generally promoted worldwide. In the US, the best months for promotion are January and July. I wrote a post for US News and World Report’s career blog about how to position yourself for a promotion in the coming months.
On another note: The job market is heating up. We’re busier than ever with PR and communications requisitions coming in for agency and in-house PR roles. With more opportunities opening up, it’s probably a good time to give your resume an update or two. Check out my post this week on the questions your resume should answer on US News and World Report’s On Careers.
Have you ever wondered what hiring managers are really thinking when they review your application? Sure all the usual resume rules apply like use correct punctuation and highlight your relevant experience, but what makes your resume really stand out from the rest? More importantly, what keeps it from ending up in the reject pile?
Don Fornes, the CEO of ERP Software Advice, recently revealed 10 screening secrets he uses when filtering through job applications. Instead of filtering for who he should hire, first he looks for candidates to reject. It sounds harsh, but when reviewing hundreds of applications at a time, managers look for any way to be more efficient.
To help you avoid some of the “head-smacking” errors often overlooked by job seekers, be sure to read through his article: Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers. Here is a quick preview of Fornes’ recommendations:
- Don’t name your resume, “resume.” About a third of applicants name their resume document, “resume.doc.” “Resume” may make sense on your computer, where you know it’s your resume. However, on my computer, it’s one of many, many resumes with the same name. I used to rename them, but then I noticed the strong correlation between unqualified candidates and the “resume” file name. Now I reject them if I don’t see something really good within ten seconds. By using such a generic file name, the applicant misses a great opportunity to brand themselves (e.g. “John Doe – Quota Crusher”). If you’re qualified enough to sell or market for us, you won’t miss the opportunity to at least use your name in the file name.
- don’t use all lowercase. i’m not sure where this trend originated. is it some text messaging thing? it’s so easy to capitalize properly on a keyboard. how much time is this really saving you? to me, it screams out, “hi. i’m lazy. my pinkies are really heavy and I’d rather not move them to shift. when i start working for you, i’ll look for other ways to be lazy. i’ll also rebel against authority figures like you, just like i’m rebelling against the english teachers that dedicated their lives to helping me become literate.” seriously though, this bad habit buys you next to nothing and is bound to offend countless detailed-oriented hiring managers.
- Don’t write like a robot. I’ve noticed a funny phenomenon with many grads that are entering “the real world.” While their speech is still littered with “ums,” “likes” and “you knows,” their writing is exceedingly formal, long-winded and boring. The people that are reviewing your application were young once too. They may still be young. Most of them have a sense of humor. They get bored. Please, don’t make them parse dense cover letters and resumes that read like some robot ate a thesaurus and puked. Just use concise, well-written prose. Keep sentences short. Toss in a joke or two. Show us a little bit of your personality. We’re going to have to work with you more than we see our spouses, so show us that we’ll enjoy it. No robots.
Go read Don’s other seven suggestions – Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers.
Yesterday I listed five things to never put on your resume. By no means was it an exhaustive list. Paul Copcutt, former recruiter and blogger at Reflections of a Square Peg, left some great comments worth sharing.
Here are Paul's five things to never put on a resume:
- Silly, Funny (usually just to you), or offensive e-mail addresses. Gmail is free and generic - use it!
- An objective (still seen on far too many resumes) - by all means have something to give off a resume but make it a value proposition. Think: What you can do for the employer - not what you want from them? Jennifer Schooley chimed in here as well stating it's obvious by receiving the resume you are looking for a job, so don't waste the space.
- No phone number! Yes believe it - when I was in recruitment I did a quick survey once and found over 15% of resumes had no contact phone number. Huh???!!
- Reasons why you left - rarely seen now, but it does happen. Do not eliminate yourself before the interview. Save it for a face to face, or at least a telephone conversation.
- Photos. In recruitment we used to have a "˜rogues′ gallery of photos that were attached to resumes. Again, save it for the interview or web interview. Or make sure any photo is professionally taken for bios and on-line profiles like LinkedIn.
Another great tip from Martin Buckland:
- Leave responsibilities out. Build each bullet around STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Tell a short story, max 3 lines, about each accomplishment. These can also serve as a platform for the interviewer to position his questions.
Bill Green added "GPA - leave it off. If you have a 3.8, you have just publicly said you not as smart as someone with a 4.0."
Jacob Share at JobMob also pointed me to his top 10 unusual resume mistakes. He puts out some of the most useful content in the world of job search out there. If you don't read Jacob's blog, it's a good addition to your daily feeds.
Thank you all for your insight! I'd love to hear any other ideas you would add in the comments.
This part two of a three-part series about what to never put on your resume.
Part 1: 5 things to never put on your resume
Part 3: Make sure your career progression is not mistaken for job hopping
Job searching can be a lonely, frustrating place. It's time consuming and it rarely comes without rejection. In most cases, your years of hard work are represented on one or two pages and evaluated by someone who has probably never worked in your position. And it's that step that determines if you are in the "in" interview pile or the "out" pile.
Those two pages of finely tuned words ARE you, until you have the chance to let your personality shine through in the interview. Here are my top five things to avoid putting on your resume.
- Giving personal data. Your resume should be a business representation of you. Avoid listing your marital status, age, family data, hobbies, etc. You should have hobbies and a life outside of work, but it's not necessary to include them on your resume UNLESS the hobby or information is relevant to the job itself. Your prospective employer will find this all out anyways on your Facebook or Myspace page (so make sure it's representative of what you want them to know). Your age, sexual preference, martial status or family information (children, ages, etc.) are irrelevant. The unfortunate truth is that hiring managers may base their decisions on whether or not to interview and hire you based on the information you provide, discriminatory or not. Don't let them make that judgment.
- Listing every job since adolescence. The Starbucks Barista job that got you through college isn't for the resume. If it's not relevant to your current job search, drop it. Think: Did this job prepare me to be a PR pro? If not, don't list it. That goes for internships too. If you have more than five years experience your internships are no longer relevant.
- Going more than two pages. This is a tough one, especially for candidates with lots of experience. You may have the temptation of wanting to list all of your relevant experience, but nobody reads more than two pages. So don't give in, no matter how much experience you have. Find a way to cut it down. A good way to start is by focusing on accomplishments for each position rather than a long list of responsibilities.
- Personal pronouns. Writing your resume in the first person detracts from your accomplishments. It adds unnecessary work and wastes space. The same goes for referring to yourself in the third person. Examples: "I pitched business and trade publications such as..." or "Jane has 15 years of experience..."
- Providing references or stating "references upon request." You need references, but not on your resume. You don't want your valued references being called before you have a chance to let them know. If a company requires references, it will ask you for them when you are seriously being considered for the position. Listing "references upon request" at the bottom of your resume is a given and wastes valuable space.
What would you add to the list?
This is part one of a three-part series about what to never put on your resume.
Part 2: Top things you should never put on your resume by readers
Part 3: Make sure your career progress is not mistaken for job hopping
CNN - Resumes from Hell
New York Times - Resume Writing 101
You have a LinkedIn profile, a blog, an online resume, a web portfolio, a video resume, a YouTube channel and accounts on Twitter, Flickr, Utterz, blah blah blah. Why would you need a traditional resume too?
Shannon Paul wrote a great piece called the Six steps to Resume 2.0. She gives some valuable insight on just how important it is as a job seeker to communicate with the receiver in mind.
Everyday people are starting to utilize these new communications tools, but the truth is that most people aren't there yet. We still don't have a clue, so your blog, LinkedIn profile and content on your social networks can't be the only representation of your skills. Today it's still absolutely necessary to have a traditional resume.
Social media savvy job seekers often tend to think their LinkedIn profiles and blogs are sufficient. I hear it all the time: "Lindsay, everything is on my LinkedIN profile" or "Send your client to my online portfolio link."
It's not enough. Most HR departments and hiring managers prefer tradition. If you're working with a third-party recruiter, she needs to present a candidate formally to the client company for contractual reasons; links don't cut it. Resumes also help recruiters and HR departments track candidates in the Applicant Tracking systems for future opportunities.
Here are Shannon's tips to show off your online presence and still satisfy those traditionalists.
- Start with a Word document version of your resume since that's what most people are familiar with, but don't stop there.
- Hyperlink all of the information in your resume that makes sense. Your name can link to your blog, and your contact information can include links to your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr etc. profiles. Make sure that the information on the selected profiles is something you wouldn′t mind sharing with a potential employer.
- Create an HTML version of your resume and embed it into the body of your email to HR.
- Write an introduction explaining what you've done as if you're explaining it to your Mom. Let them know why you think this is important. Explain your interest in sharing information about yourself as it exists online and invite them to explore these links to research who you are. Phrase it in such a way that suggests you're trying to make their job easier.
- Attach the Word document version of your resume to your message and let them know in the introduction that a Word version of your resume is also attached. A lot of times people just want to save resumes in a predictable way or print them out. (Yes, people still print things out and make notes on them with a pen).
- Don't expect them to click on anything. If you're called in for an interview, don't start asking whether they read your latest blog post or saw the pictures from your week in Yosemite posted to Facebook. Remember, you sent them an invitation, but that doesn't mean you should make them feel obligated to check you out on your terms. Just keep inviting people to check out your work and your life online.
Shannon Paul: Six steps to Resume 2.0