What is the Best Resume Format?

Need help with formatting your resume? By following these hot tips you’ll learn what a good resume looks like and how to create one yourself.

I don’t think there is just one best resume format. The more important question to ask yourself is: How do I organize my skills and qualifications in such a way that they will be seen.ResumeUpdate

As I’ve said in previous posts, you want your resume to be read. So keep it short, easy to follow, and tailored to the particular needs of the job description. Yes, this means you’ll need to revise your resume every time you apply for a job, but this only takes minutes on a computer. The time you spend doing this will pay off.

Here’s a format I think works well:

Name, Contact Information: Top of the page, easy to find and read. You can center your name in 14 pt. type (something easy to read such as Times Roman or Ariel). On either side, include email address, phone numbers and mailing address. The contact information can be in smaller, 12 pt. type. Keep it simple and classic looking – don’t get fancy.

Professional Statement. 3-4 lines explaining the type of manager/person you are and/or your experience and related qualifications. You don’t need to use complete sentences. The point is to get the reader’s attention, so base the information you supply on what the job description is looking for.

Related Skills. 3-4 bullets defining the specific skills you have that relate to the job you’re apply for, e.g. extensive experience in project management with bottom line responsibility.

Work Experience. Even if you’re newly out of school, begin your resume with your work experience. That’s what readers want to know about. Always begin with your most recent job and work backwards. Include volunteer positions if you gained relevant skills doing the work. P.S. This is often the case. Even if you don’t get paid, many of the skills you gain volunteering are very transferable to the work world!

  • Name of Company (in bold), city, state. On opposite side include the years you were there e.g. 2008-Present or 2001-2002. Just years; don’t include months. It’s irrelevant information and detracts from the important stuff.
  • Follow with one line describing your responsibility e.g. Responsible for all HR activities in company of 120 employees
  • Below that, include no more than 3 bullets for each work experience that quantifies your accomplishments (if possible). For example: organized and wrote first company employee manual, or as sales manager, sales increased by 5% annually
  • Use the above format for each job you’ve held. Include no more than 15 years worth of work experience. You can talk about your other jobs and experience during your interview. You just don’t want to clog up space in your resume with this information. Stick with the most relevant material and your chances for a personal interview will increase.

Education. Format this information so it’s easy and quick to read. Include any awards, honors, certificates or additional academic information, but not a list of research papers or articles. That takes up too much space. You can show that to them later. List the university on the left side in bold. On the opposite side of the page include the years e.g. 2000-2004, also in bold. Underneath state your degree e.g. B.S. journalism, summa cum laude. Begin with your most recent degree. If you have a masters, mention that first, followed by information on your undergraduate degree.

Community Service. I think this is very important to include. It shows your volunteer and community work, and speaks to the type of person you are. Where do you give of your time; what are your interests. Simply list them as bullets e.g. St. Louis Humane Society, dates on opposite side of the page again. Then underneath you might say: Volunteer at fundraising event, dog walking, cleaning kennels. Also include here any boards or committees you’ve served on such as Community Library Board or Human Rights Coalition 2007-2009.

That’s it. You want your resume to be inviting: professional looking, clear, and tailored to the specific job. Remember, the average reader spends less than six seconds reading a resume – less is more. Your resume is a snapshot of your background, not an encyclopedia. Get their attention immediately in the Professional Statement and then keep their attention by including only your relevant skills and qualifications. (I know, how many times have I said this). In my opinion, the primary goal for a resume is to get you a personal interview. If you follow the format above and keep the employer’s needs in mind, your chances of an interview are dramatically increased. Try it!

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