Would you not carefully choose your appearance on the day of the interview? We do not live in movies where Will Smith could get away being a sanitation worker. Your world and our world is the real world, and your interview is a real interview. In the whole process of preparation, we tend to undermine the appearance and structure of our resume. Your resume format is of vital importance and makes an enormous difference to your success. We want you to remember the two forces that work in a resume being picked up among a pile of others. "The What and The How"?
You may have worked ten thousand feet below the sea, rigging oil for a major energy company – or you may have single-handedly pioneered a startup. Alternatively, perhaps you just graduated college, and you are beginning your career. In any of these situations, your resume format is critical because a good one will highlight your best and most attractive strengths, skills, background and experience.
The most commonly used resume layout, and preferred by Job hunters, Job seekers and Human Resource Managers, is a Reverse Chronological resume format. As, the name suggests this resume highlights your career profile, educational summary (or professional profile) as appropriate for the job opportunity. It is like watching a movie backwards. What you place on the top is what you want to be seen first. If not sure, we suggest you take professional advice – as these very things which might seem trivial play a vital role in the final decision of a hiring manager – and your job prospects.
The generally accepted order for a Reverse Chronological resume format is:
Your name, contact number, email address. We also suggest that candidates display their LinkedIn URL in this area as well. LinkedIn plays a vital role in the Job hiring process, and hiring managers will appreciate if it's provided. A personal website if any should also be mentioned if it is on-brand and relevant to your functional area.
For a moment consider yourself a job hunter. You have a resume at hand which highlights educational qualification of a recent graduate followed by this internship details. Nothing really wrong but it is what they call an out of "shape resume". While the reverse chronological resume format offers the candidate the liberty to be flexible, it also gives you the additional responsibility of being very careful of what you place.
Be it a professional profile, educational qualification or career highlights, be double sure that the placement is correct and as per the requirement. In the case of doubt do not hesitate seeking professional help.
Apart from listing your key responsibilities, define your significant contributions that benefited the organisation. Leverage opportunities here when you got promoted, or something that made you stand out from the crowd and your colleagues. If accomplishments defined by numbers, your resume immediately gets noticed more. Do not shy away from using bullet points. Use of bullet points and action verbs is what will be noticed in the beginning.
For someone who has spent a considerable time in the industry, a quick summary of their degree and college details is all that is necessary. If you graduated with honours or went to a top University, emphasise your education. If, on the other hand, you were a “back bencher,” make sure to keep your education section short and sweet. Remember, your career flow and your professional experience takes over your education details once you begin your career. If the job application demands a PhD Holder, an Ivy League Degree, or something very niche and specific, then it’s a different ballgame. A recent college graduate, however, will need to be elaborate in this section.
A person is known by what he does in his free time. So be open and do highlight your additional skills, hobbies and again what makes you unique. The additional skills can be in accordance with the job or completely different. Don’t forget; Steve Jobs was trained in Calligraphy fonts – and he built computers.
In situations where there are inconsistencies in your career flow, or extraordinary accomplishments and specialisation, or if by sheer bad luck you have “imperfect” work experience, a functional resume format can help you more. The purpose of this resume format is to help leverage extraordinary accomplishments and assist with some of life’s challenges mentioned above. Remember, a hiring manager has been trained to look for inconsistencies in your resume – and you do not want to allude to these problems easily. The industry uses a term, "High-risk Hire". Your resume should not be categorised in that list.
The flow of the Functional resume format is as stated below:
Apart from the above mentioned, in case you are changing cities it is advisable but not mandatory to arrange for a local number of your target city. Your name, Email address, LinkedIn Profile and a personal website if any will also be placed here.
If work experience is not your key highlight or if you have an inconsistent work history, it is best to begin your resume with your qualifications. It not only takes away the stress from the specific dates but also adds to the ploy of concealing the inconsistencies. As a general rule, in any scenario, it is always a good idea to put your best foot forward at the beginning of the resume.
Personal achievements should be highlighted in detail. Remember, during the interview, this is what is going to cover the gaps in your employment history – so relevant achievements should be highlighted. The resume format is built on the idea that your achievements are more important than your work history. Free use of bullet points and emphasis on actions rather than particular experiences are the key to this.
It is imperative to define what benefit you bring to the organisation. Come up with at least three relevant and related skills. For instance, when applying for a sales job, the existing contacts, the previous sales figures and your social networking skills are what can be considered your relevant skills. Relevant skill sets will vary from job to job. If on the other hand you are an engineering candidate looking to make it in the movie industry, the relevant factors, qualities and skills will be very different from someone transitioning from a career in sales to one in finance. Bullet points should be used to highlight each skill. Bullet points very smartly display a candidate’s confidence. Use them freely.
If one has to take care of an ill relative, if one has gone back to school full time, taking care of ones’ child, research work, all these are accepted work experience “concealers.” The more legitimate the reason for the break in employment, the better the chances of getting a fair hearing and opportunity for an interview. Better still, if one can show how well have they utilised the time off. If off for a Global Adventure, highlight the experience you brought back – or that movie you made, or the fund you created for raising cancer awareness. The key is to put forward your additional and relevant skills of organising, discipline and research in how you format your resume.
One other valuable tip is not to highlight the month when you quit your job; stick to the year and put forward your explanation later.
This resume format is for rock stars. What we mean is it is for someone with a vast amount of experience, where their emphasis and focus is on highlighting their skills and abilities. Someone with much technical expertise, for example, would find using this resume format to be their best bet. It can be used both if looking to seek jobs within or outside the industry. That application you recently sold, the software which took care of your college canteen, all of your achievements reflect well on your skills, and it is best put forward in this resume format.
While the content more or less remains the same, it is the arrangement and highlighting that is different. It starts with the usual information, such as contact information, professional profile or education summaries, skills and highlights, relevant skills and personal experience.
A combination resume format is like a fast track movie – where the character is revealed at a very early stage and are immediately aware of their superhero qualities. It is always advisable to take professional help while making this resume.