One of the first things you need to do when embarking on a job search is create a strong, concise resume. Your resume needs to be more than a list of what you’ve done. It needs to be a document that represents who you are and tells employers what you can do.
Your resume often serves as the first impression you make on a hiring manager or potential employer. It can often be the deciding factor in whether or not you get an interview.
So what type of resume should you have?
There are two main types of resume formats, each of which have their own advantages:
The chronological resume lists your work experience in order. This is the most popular, common format. The main point of this type of resume is to show that you have the background and work experience necessary for the job.
When creating a chronological resume, list your most recent employment experience first and work backward, which allows you to highlight your most recent achievements.
Remember to focus on your most notable successes and don’t go overboard. Most hiring managers look at a resume for only a few seconds, so you don’t have long to capture their interest.
Employers tend to prefer the chronological resume because it is fact-based and easily skimmed.
For job seekers with solid experience and a logical job history, the chronological resume is the most effective. Career changers and those who lack formal on-the-job experience may want to try another format.
Instead of listing your experience in chronological order, the functional resume allows you to break your experience into different areas, which can be useful if you’re applying for a very specific type of job. For instance, you can classify your experience under headings such as management, leadership and support.
Rearrange your employment history into sections that highlight areas of skill and accomplishment, although you should still give a sense of your professional chronology – don’t neglect to include dates and company names.
The functional resume is good for job seekers who have little work experience, various employment experiences or are changing careers. By breaking your experience up into groups, you can better show that you have the experience and skills necessary for the job.
The functional resume might be thought of as a “problem solving” format. It gives you latitude to “make sense” of your work history and match up skills and accomplishments that might not be obvious to the employer in a traditional chronological format. Just be sure to match up skills with job titles, level of responsibility and dates of experience. Remember, the employer won’t take the time to decipher this information. Lay it out as clearly as you can.
Whether you choose a chronological or functional resume, be sure to create a version that is formatted to read well when submitted as a data file or scanned and searched by optical scanning systems.
Many large employers use electronic resume processing systems, or automated applicant tracking systems, to handle large volumes of resumes. Job ads may direct applicants to visit their website and submit a resume electronically. The resume will go into a database that recruiter or hiring manager can search by keyword. Not only must your resume include any relevant keywords, you must avoid fonts and formatting that will not scan properly into the system such as italics, bold type or fancy typefaces.