Resume Writing Tips

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What are the different types of resume styles?

Chronological vs. Functional Resume

There are two styles of resumes: chronological and functional.

The chronological format is the most commonly used. A chronological resume lists your work experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent work experience and moving backwards. This is the preferred resume format of many employers, due to the fact that it gives them a clear picture of your career path and allows them to view, at a glance, the length of time you've spent at a given job.

Functional resumes list career skills in clusters. They're ideal for individuals with minimal work history, or people with long gaps between occupations that want to emphasize skill over actual work experience.

One of the drawbacks of utilizing the functional resume is that many online job boards don't support the format, which can severely limit your exposure. Professional staffing agencies also prefer the chronological format, and offer resources to assist you in effective resume writing.

What information should I leave off my resume?

What to Leave Out

Bob Seger once sang about the dilemma of “what to leave in, what to leave out," but even those who prefer disco to that old time rock ‘n' roll can see the wisdom in his words.

When it comes to writing the perfect resume, simplicity is the key. Knowing what not to include in your resume is just as important as knowing what to put into it. When it comes to this, it's always smart to abide by the age-old idiom: when in doubt, leave it out.

Omit irrelevant information. If you're applying for the job of an accountant, it's not necessary to list a job you held in your teens at a ski resort (unless you were providing bookkeeping services for the business office).

If you think your resume is too busy, it probably is. In addition to countless websites offering resume templates, professional staffing agencies also offer services to help you fine tune your resume.

Should I tailor my resume for specific jobs?

The Tailor-Made Resume

Writing a professional resume is such an involving process that many are loath to make changes once they feel they've got it right. This can be a big mistake. Maintaining your resume is as important to the care of your career as oil changes are to the life cycle of your car.

One of the most painstaking aspects of maintaining your resume lies in tailoring it for specific jobs. A generalized, all-encompassing resume may seem like the best approach, but prospective employers think in specifics, not generalities. When they read your resume they're looking for key indicators that you'd be a good fit for the job. If your resume appears too general, it may be overlooked.

One-size-fits-all resumes are the path of least resistance. Individuals with a solid history of landing interviews have one thing in common: all modify their resumes to fit the requirements of the job for which they're applying.

Should I list all of my job duties and responsibilities on my resume?

Accomplishments vs. Responsibilities

When setting about the task of completing the job history section of your resume, keep in mind that the average employer will spend only 15-20 seconds reading it. It's up to you to make the best possible impression in that short amount of time.

Effective resumes do the work for their intended audience. Stuffing every inch of the page with details about your prior job duties asks an employer to read between the lines. Instead of rattling off a list of responsibilities, give them your accomplishments. If you helped prevent one million dollars in theft as a loss prevention officer, state that—but avoid providing a blow-by-blow list of your daily activities. Employers want the bottom line: what can you offer them?

If you're stuck for help, many professional recruiters offer resume writing advice to their clients. Visiting a recruiter could put you on the fast track to creating an effective resume, and finding work.

What's the purpose of the resume?

The Purpose of the Resume

The purpose of the resume is not to get you a job, that part comes later. The purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. Knowing this, and keeping that at the forefront of your efforts, can make the difference between a good resume and a great one.

Most employers spend approximately fifteen to twenty seconds reviewing a resume before placing it on the stack of winners or rejects--a fact that can be incredibly disheartening. But having this bit of information should empower you to make the most of that brief window of time by writing an effective resume.

Keep your resume clear and concise. Leave plenty of white space by not cramming it with too much information. Arrange your career highlights and provide figures when appropriate, but remember a good resume should give your intended audience an overview of your accomplishments, not every single detail. Save that for the interview.

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Guru Spotlight
Susan Sayour