So you understand what a resume is and why it’s important. Awesome! Now comes the nitty-gritty part: figuring out what kind of resume to use. Yes, there are different types of resume formats, but this shouldn’t be intimidating – it should be comforting because it means that there’s probably an option that will perfectly suit your job hunting needs.
Do you want to hone your resume skills and take your job search to the next level, but aren’t sure how to start? Let’s take a look at how to format and style your resume to perfectly fit your needs.
What Resume Types Can I Use?
If you’ve made a resume before, it’s probably used one of the most common types of resumes: the chronological resume. Did you know that’s not your only option? We’ll look at three main categories: chronological, functional, and combination, along with some useful resume samples.
A chronological resume is the one you’re the most used to listing jobs in chronological order from most to least recent, with details about your duties and achievements on the job.
The benefit of this format is that it allows a hiring manager to clearly see how well your experience aligns with the job posting. The downside, however, is that it can be a bit dry and may not highlight specific skills. Additionally, as a new graduate, you may not have a lengthy work history to show off in this format.
Instead of being based on the time spent at individual jobs, a functional resume is designed around a job seeker’s skills. It generally includes a list of skills, as well as job titles and employers, sometimes with dates of employment.
For a new graduate, a skill-centric resume may help highlight your strengths, as it’s designed to emphasize relevant skills (coursework counts!). However, it may draw attention away from actual work experience, which some hiring managers may dislike.
As you might guess, a combination resume combines the chronological and function formats, usually with sections dedicated to work history (including some job details) and qualifications or skills. This is probably the most common type and, going forward, this is the style we’ll be talking about the most.
How to Make a Resume
At this point, you probably just want to know the most important sections and information to include on a resume. You’re not going to like this answer: there is no single answer. Some suggestions, however, should work in most circumstances.
Your name goes at the top, usually in a larger font. Follow this up with your contact information: address, phone number, and email address. The latter two pieces of information are the most important, so make sure that you include a phone number where you can be easily reached (preferably a cell phone) and an email you check daily.
A note on email addresses: if you’re a new college graduate, don’t use your college email address. A more professional option is to sign up for an account using a service such as Gmail and create an address utilizing some combination of your initials, name, and possibly numbers.
What Have I Done?
A “Summary of Qualifications” section allows you to list relevant skills and accomplishments. Instead of one-word or phrase “skills,” however, write these as sentences that link your achievements to the skills desired in the job posting.
You’ll also want to list your work history – but make sure it paints a real picture of your work experience! Avoid just listing job titles and employers. Instead, include your job duties, as well as notable accomplishments that help you stand out. Build an education section by listing your degrees with graduation dates and any other professional certifications that are relevant in your field. Listing your high school diploma is unnecessary.
Depending on the job posting and the field you’re applying to, you may need to include a brief section on technical proficiencies. If pressed for space, this can be included in your “qualifications” section or integrated into your accomplishments.
One Page Or Two?
This is one of the most common questions: should a resume be only one page, or can it be two?
The answer? Both. Sort of.
A resume can go onto a second page if a candidate has enough job experience and accomplishments to make it necessary (and to fill up most of that second page, not just a few lines). If you’re a new college grad, you probably haven’t built up enough professional history to make a second page necessary. So if you find yourself encroaching onto a second page, it may be time to rethink your formatting or reword your content.
All About Style
Does your resume have to be in Times New Roman 12-pt font? No. Does your resume have to use margins and font that is clean, organized, and easily readable? Absolutely yes!
The key is choosing a single font for the entire resume that is clear and polished – avoid “fun” fonts or ones that are styled in a way that makes letters look alike. You may choose to use bold or italics or larger font sizes for things like section headings, highlights, or something along those lines. The only caveat is to avoid overusing them or trying to use them to “highlight” every other sentence.
Resume Objectives: Yea or Nay?
A popular part of many resume templates is an “objective” – but are they really necessary?
In most cases, no.
Prospective employers know your objective: to get the job you’re applying for. With space on your resume at a premium, it’s generally better to focus on concrete skills and experience than an objective that may sound vague. Be honest and straightforward and you can’t go wrong!