How to Use Different Resume
Q: Is there an established format for
writing a resume? I have visited at least a dozen employment
consulting services during my career and each has come up with a
different approach. Is one better than another?
A: In a word, “No!” Job seekers spend an
inordinate amount of time fine tuning resumes designed to be all
things to all people. Like the pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow, the perfect resume remains elusive. There isn't one format
that fits everyone's background and objective.
Like a successful piece of marketing
literature, a resume must be tailored to meet the needs of the
potential employer. A generic one with a customized cover letter
isn’t good enough, especially when a computer’s scanning for key
words in your resume alone.
You can stack the screening process in
your favor if you keep the following in mind. Every resume should
name, address, email and phone at the top.
specific job objective It's much better to say, “Sales
management position with XYZ Corp.,” than, “A management
position with a dynamic, growth-oriented company.” The more you
pin-point your goal, the easier it is to provide supporting
evidence for why you deserve it.
Accomplishments Potential employers want to know how your
expertise can benefit them.
achievements section should list activities and skills that fit
their particular needs.
Employment history A short reverse chronology of your past
positions by title, company and date. Put the date at the right
of the page. Your title should be first, since it’s most
Education Work experience is generally more important than
educational credentials, unless you are just graduating, or a
degree is a mandatory qualification for the position. List your
education, both degrees and applicable continuing education
courses below your experience.
Personal data Professional organizations, civic groups, and
hobbies are good candidates for the personal category. Many
resume experts will tell you to delete this section. I like it
because it rounds out a potential employer’s picture of who you
No resume should include:
Personal demographic information Demographics such as age,
weight, height, marital status, and number of children are
superfluous to your ability to do the job.
Salary history. You deal with
compensation inquires best in person. Volunteering past salaries
weakens your negotiating position whether you are currently
making more, less, or the same amount as your job objective.
References Only give references if
everyone knows and loves these people. Otherwise you're filling
critical space with names that are usually meaningless to your
interviewer. Have you references ready, though, in case a
potential employer wants to call them after your interview.
Companies screen resumes (sometimes
hundreds per opening) to find the best candidates to interview. They
are looking for specific skills and experience. Your challenge is to
make the cut and get an appointment to sell yourself in person. If
your resume doesn't speak to their needs in the top two-thirds of
the first page, they probably will reject it and squelch your
opportunity to dazzle them face-to-face.
While there are lots of ways to present
your accomplishments, all styles of resumes fall into one of two
major types: the chronological and the hybrid. Both have advantages,
depending on your situation.
Professionals who have years of
experience in a particular career and wish to secure a job equal to
or above the one they currently fill typically use the chronological
resume. It puts the last job first and moves through work experience
in reverse order. Featuring the most recent position at the
beginning quickly catches a potential employer's eye with the most
relevant, responsible experience. Job titles, companies, dates,
locations, and accomplishments are all important ingredients in this
This format is the traditional,
universally-accepted one. However, it may not be the best style for
you. In fact, if any of the following typify your experience, the
chronological resume may do you more harm than good:
have gaps in your employment history of six months or more.
You've jumped from position to
position every two years or less, although Gen Y seems to do
this with abandon.
Your most recent experience isn't
relevant to what you want to do now.
You hope to make a major career
change and rely on your transferable rather than specialized
Your volunteer work is much more
in line with your career objectives than your
In any of the above cases, the hybrid
resume probably will be the better choice. This format is much more
flexible than the chronological one because hybrid resumes focus on
transferable skills and accomplishments rather than specific
experience by job title. They usually state an objective (Example:
Director of Development for the Build a Better America Foundation.),
then divide the desired position into major functions (Example:
directors of development need expertise in fund raising, oral and
written communication, event planning, budgeting, and general
management.). Next, they arrange major paid and volunteer
accomplishments under the appropriate functional category. For
instance, experience listed under oral and written communication
might look like this:
Oral and Written Communication
Designed a brochure distributed to more than 10,000 people discussing
the benefits and features of membership in The Women's
Wrote a proposal for a $50,000
foundation grant to Keep America Green, which was funded for
Developed relationships with 30
media resources resulting in two feature stories and four
television and radio show appearances.
Spoke to 25 professional and civic
groups concerning the need for citizen participation in local
Note that job titles and dates do not
dictate the structure of the hybrid resume. With it you gain a
great deal of flexibility in listing your accomplishments in the
order most relevant to your potential job. After your achievements,
include an Employment History section, where you’ll list a short
chronological summary of past experience, now no longer the focus of
As you see, whatever resume format you
choose will be the right one, if it clearly states your objective
and mirrors your potential employer's needs.