Resumes can be prepared in different styles or formats, each format having its own advantages and disadvantages. Select the resume format that enables you to make the strongest presentation of your qualifications. You will find sample formats posted on WorkNet that can be saved and used when creating your own resume.
There are two main formats of resumes, chronological and functional. Review the information below to determine which better fits your needs.
Items are arranged in reverse chronological order (meaning most recent first) within the topics listed previously. Job titles and the organizations are emphasized, and descriptions of duties and accomplishments are included. A chronological resume demonstrates continuity and career growth while highlighting names of employers. This format works well for those with strong or relevant experience. By listing your experiences in reverse chronological order, you can demonstrate a record of increasingly responsible positions.
Unlike the chronological format, the functional resume ignores historical sequence and stresses specific skills or functions regardless of when and where they were developed. This resume format gives you considerable flexibility to expound upon those skills most relevant to your career objective. Functional resumes are advantageous when you want to emphasize skills and capabilities gained through free-lance, volunteer or temporary work, or when you have had a variety of different, relatively unconnected work experiences. It also can mask lapses in your chronological work experience. The functional format may be most useful to career changers and those with diverse experiences.
A one or two page resume works well for most recent college graduates. Two or more pages are acceptable for graduate students or students who have extensive experience. Always put the most important, relevant information on the first page. If your resume is two pages, the information on the second page should fill at least half of the page.
Typing and Reproduction
Before you write your final draft, have your resume critiqued for content and style. Career Center staff members are available to provide these critiques. Several tips for your resume are listed below:
- Organize your resume by using section headings to direct the reader to relevant information about your education, experience, activities, skills, etc.
- Use proportional fonts (Times Roman or Helvetica) and print your resume on a high-quality laser printer.
- Use high-quality white, off-white, or buff-colored paper. Avoid parchment paper or other papers with busy backgrounds.
- Make your resume easy to read by using italics and bold type, short sentences, and bulleted lists.
- Have a spotless resume - no coffee stains, smeared ink, or extraneous marks.
- Proofread your resume carefully to make sure there are no typographical, spelling, or grammatical errors.
Mailing Your Resume
When mailing your resume always include a cover letter to explain why you are sending the resume. When mailing your resume, send it in a business envelope or a large manila envelope to prevent it from being folded or creased in the mail.
Critique Your Resume
- Always present accurate, honest information on your resume.
- Include complete contact information--you want employers to be able to reach you quickly and easily.
- Do not exaggerate your titles or accomplishments. Employers know the difference between a “restaurant host” and a “vice president for customer service.”
- Omit personal pronouns including “I” or “My” at the beginning of statements or sentences.
- Use action words at the beginning of sentences (e.g., created, designed, initiated, organized, supervised, taught).
- Consider using bullets to make your resume as reader-friendly as possible. For each position, use three to five bulleted statements.
- Avoid full-justified text blocks; they put awkward spaces between your words. Stick to a left-justified format.
- Quantify your accomplishments by showing how much you reduced costs, the percentage you increased revenue, exactly how you improved processes, the number of employees you supervised or students you taught.
- Use past tense to describe previous experience and present tense for current jobs.
- Avoid passive words or phrases such as “responsible for” or “duties included.”
- Do not put information on your resume that might be negative or harmful to your candidacy. Sensitive information is best handled in a personal interview.
- Focus your information using your career objective statement to catch employers attention quickly; they usually screen resumes in less than 30 seconds.
- Avoid listing hobbies or interests - these can be seen as filler or unnecessary “fluff” and can detract from the overall professional appearance of your resume.
- Emphasize your transferable skills (e.g., written and verbal communication, analytical and problem solving skills, knowledge of computers, project management).
- List your jobs, educational experiences, activities, and other experiences in reverse chronological order.
- Eliminate high school information unless it is directly relevant to your career objective. For example, if you are seeking a job in sport management and you managed your high school basketball team for four years, it is relevant.
- List references on a separate page.
- ALWAYS PROOFREAD! Misspellings and grammatical errors are all the employer needs to put your resume in the “no” pile.
- To make sure your resume is top-notch, refer to the RESUME CHECKLIST.
- Remember to have your resume critiqued by a member of the Career Center staff.