Rules for the Resume: Formatting

Making Your Resume Appealing to Potential Employers

Your resume is the first thing an employer sees of you; as such, your resume is invaluable. Making it appealing to your potential employer is pivotal in getting your foot in the door. Different formats and templates exist for resumes, but how do you choose what format to put it in?

It comes down to the type of work experiences you’ve had and the type of position/career you’re after. Follow these basic tips for your resume:

Consider a Chronological Format

Most companies prefer a chronological format, in which you list jobs and experiences from the most recent you have had, then going backward. This is a universally accepted format and works well for most career choices and employers. Not only will they see your current position, which will be most relevant to the position you are actually applying for, but they will also be able to track your career growth as they follow your job history.

Showcase Your Skills

There are a few times when another format works better than chronological. For example, if you are a recent graduate or career changer, the chronological format won’t work as well because you may not have a solid listing of experiences or employers to list. A more functional format for you is one which showcases your skills and abilities. Your professional skills are important to list in all types of resume formats, but when you don’t have a solid listing of work experience, your skills and abilities need to be displayed in an effective, eye-catching manner. You may also include your volunteer experiences in addition to detailed descriptions of each work-related ability you have to offer your future employer.

Present Your Projects

Another type of resume format is the project-based layout. This is particularly effective for people who have a specialized title. This format will serve to showcase the projects you have completed in the past while putting an emphasis on your ability to multi-task. Project managers and specialized consultants often prefer this layout as it details the most important aspects of their careers.

Design Tip

There is no shortage of resume designs and templates online and built into word-processing programs. Choose one that is professional and opt away from one that is too colorful or uses an odd font. Note: Some color can make your resume stand out, but choose wisely.

If you’re unsure of what format to go with, we recommend sticking with chronological. We also recommend speaking with a professional, such as your consultant at a staffing firm, who can point you in the right direction as well.

What is a “Focused” Resume and Why is it the #1 Priority for Job Search

These days you might hear the term “Focused Resume” or “Focused Job Search”.  It is a term that is full of meaning but unless you’ve had someone sit down and explain it to you, you might still be guessing.

The conditions that spawned this term have been the economic situation that has left hiring managers in the plush position of having any candidate they want.  What the hiring manager wants right now is an almost impossibly perfect fit for a candidate.  In fact, in some professions, there has been a debate as to whether or not anyone actually exists with some of the skills being outlined in some job descriptions.  Nevertheless, gone are the days when a degree or even some great transferable skills would open the door.  They don’t want to interpret whether or not a candidate could do a job.  They want the candidate to do two things on their resumes:

1 – Tell them only the skills that directly apply to the job

2- Demonstrate they can deliver on the promise by showing results and accomplishments

Knowing these two goals, that’s where “focused resume” comes in.  You must focus your job search and therefore your resume on 1 or maybe 2 position-types.  That means you must display only the key elements of your background that directly relate to that position.  For many job seekers, that sends a chill down their back because many people think that will limit their ability to get a job in any reasonable timeframe.  Many job seekers launch their job search with a generic resume which nicely spans all sorts of skills and results and seek “something” that sounds good.  That process will not work.

Here are the steps for Focusing your Job Search & Resume:

1- Identify the position you are seeking.  Job title is only somewhat irrelevant because people can call some jobs pretty much anything they want which means you are identifying a position based on job content.  Don’t do anything else in your job search until you’ve done this step.  If you do, you will be wasting your time.  If you are a person with a diverse background, this can be challenging.

2- Identify key skills.  Do your homework and study various job openings and the description of the job.  You will be able to start seeing specific job requirements repeated after you have looked at 3-5.  These skills need to be the center piece to your resume, assuming you have those skills to begin with.  If not, you are barking up the wrong tree.  Stop here and start over.

3- Identify a keyword list.  While you’re doing step 2, you should be developing a keyword list that may be words used to locate people in various Applicant Tracking Systems or on the internet.  Keywords are as much of an art as it is a science but want to inject keywords in your resume and Linked In Profile so you can be found during candidate searches.

4- Mold your resume and Linked profile.  Now that you know what position-type you are pursuing along with the keywords and skills, modify your resume to “focus” on those elements.  You certainly can have other skills in both your resume and LI profile to show your diversity but you have to understand that will only be considered interesting if the other key things are there.

5- Let your network know.  Your network will only be as good as the information you give it.  Now that you can clearly articulate the position you are going after, tell them in very specific terms.

6- Pursue those positions.  Now that you have your entire job search materials focused you can confidently pursue those positions knowing you are clearly communicating the most important things the hiring manager wants to see.

You can’t get by with just looking for anything.  It sounds like a contradiction to say you will open up more possibilities by Focusing your Resume and Job Search.  You will have more hiring managers and recruiters pay attention to you and that’s what matters.

This was a guest post, originally seen on Career Rocketeer and written by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, who is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services atNext Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

7 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Resume standards change over the years, and as candidates go in and out of the job pool they often lose touch with what’s relevant in an updated resume. Here are seven tips you can utilize to make your resume stand out.

#1 Drop the objective statement.

Objective statements are now considered outdated pieces of information. A resume should be targeted to one position and therefore eliminates the need for an objective. Instead – replace your objective statement with a qualifications summary.

#2 Formatting

Resumes can now be more creative than in the past. Your format doesn’t need to stick with one column, nor do you need to worry about keeping all of your information on one page. Use creative formatting to help emphasis important information, and highlight what you want your reader to notice.

#3 Share your expertise

Employers and recruiters want to be able to quickly identify whether or not you match the position’s requirements – using a separate box or highlighted area to identify your key areas of expertise will help those attributes stand out on the page.

#4 Use recommendations

Do you have a few good recommendations from your current or previous employers? If so – use them on the resume itself. It’s best to use recommendations from past managers instead of co-workers.

#5 Share accomplishments

Instead of simply rehashing the duties of your old positions, be sure to state what you achieved during your employment there. Companies want to know how you cut costs, increased revenue, or increased productivity. It may take some thought to come up with these for your old positions, but it will pay off in the end.

#6 Use hyperlinks

The majority of resumes are read online; take advantage of this by linking your resume to your LinkedIn profile, past employers, and any other relevant information. Use this sparingly and where it makes sense, however, don’t clutter your resume with links that don’t matter.

#7 Add a splash of color

Again, because many resumes are read online using color can make your resume stand out instantly. Don’t go overboard with color. Make sure the color and style you use fit with the job you are applying for. For example, a graphic designer may use more color in a resume over an executive who would use more basic tones and shades.

What trends have you seen in today’s resume?