Structure of a Resume
When writing a resume you will have to follow some basic guidelines, depending on the type of resume you use. Your resume should reflect who you are, so you get to decide on the physical layout and design. Remember that the more conservative your field, the less leeway you have here. You will find sample resumes in Chapter 5. Those samples will help illustrate the instructions given in this section.
When setting up your resume, here is the standard format you should use. Your contact information always goes at the top. Whether you are writing a chronological resume, a functional resume, or a combination resume, you will need to start with your contact information. This will include your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. You will put each of these items on a separate line, and will either center or left-justify this information on the page. Your name should be in bold type.
While you have little control over your name, address, and telephone number, you do have control over your e-mail address. Your e-mail address says a lot about you since you are the one who chooses it. Use a professional-sounding address. Your name — first and last, your first initial followed by your last name, or your last name followed by your first initial are some good choices. Don't use anything suggestive or playful, or an address that reveals something that you would not want a prospective employer to know about you. You should use a personal e-mail address and not your work email address.
By many accounts, the time an employer spends reviewing a resume is less than a minute. Your resume should be fairly short — no more than one page long. Your descriptions should be brief, and you should get to your point quickly. Write them as sentence fragments, not as complete sentences.
The next item you will put on your resume is your objective. This item is a must. Your objective should clearly state the position you are seeking. You can, and should, target it to the job for which you are applying. Go ahead and use the description of the job opening you want to fill to compose your objective.
Your objective will be followed by a summary of qualifications, which serves as a synopsis of your entire resume. Your summary of qualifications will tell a potential employer what makes you a good fit — no, make that the best fit — for the job. Use a bulleted list containing four or five statements, about one to two lines each. Each one should tell a potential employer about one attribute. This list can include the number of years' experience you have, one of your strengths, relevant credentials, and a skill. Choose things that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying. Remember, your summary of qualifications can be targeted to each potential employer depending on his needs.
Do I have to list every job I've ever had on my resume?
If you have a very lengthy work history, you may want to omit some earlier jobs, especially those unrelated to the position you are seeking. You shouldn't omit a job from your chronological resume if it will make it look like there is a gap in your work history.
Which items follow depend on the type of resume you are using. If you are using a chronological resume, your work experience will go next, but if you are using a functional or combination resume, this is where you would put your relevant skills. On a functional resume or a chronological resume, you would show your education next. On a combination resume, your next item would be your work history, which would then be followed by your education.
Your resume should be no longer than one page. To achieve this, keep your statements short and concise. Use keywords that are pertinent to the job you want. If you can't avoid a two-page resume, don't staple the pages together. Make sure your name and phone number are present on each page of a multi-page resume should they become separated.