An effective professional resume is a crucial component of any executive or job search. A resume should be skillfully designed to convey essential employment information.
A well-designed resume will emphasize strengths and use vital keywords to ensure a high ranking in both human and computerized screening. Avoid negative or tentative phrases.
A powerful and effective resume should:
- Open doors to job opportunities.
- Showcase a candidate’s strengths, accomplishments and career potential.
- Result in a personal call from a potential employer.
- Substantially shorten the job search time.
- Create a positive and enthusiastic response from hiring organization.
- Minimize or eliminate screen-out factors – elements that can cause a resume to be screened out rather than selected.
- Rank high with automated applicant tracking systems: i.e., resumes scanned into computer databases, resumes submitted through e-mail, and resumes posted on job sites.
- Help candidates maintain control of interviews by directing the interviewer toward their strengths.
Choosing the right resume format
Since each individual possesses a unique set of talents, skills, abilities, experience, and training, there is no one format that best suits everyone. However, it is essential to choose the appropriate resume format suited to your individual circumstances.
Although there are numerous different formats, they are all a variation of 3 basic categories:
The chronological resume – with a summary of qualifications – is typically the most effective format to quickly show a candidate’s relevant job skills to a potential employer, thus enhancing the first impression.
The chronological resume format – without a summary of qualifications — stresses a candidate’s past, rather than current goals, so it is easy to be marked unfavorably and/or screened out if the work history does not match the candidate’s current employment objectives.
The chronological resume format works well if your past employment meets several criteria, including:
- Your work history is related to your current objectives, and ideally shows progressive job responsibility in a specific career direction.
- The amount of experience you have falls into an appropriately marketable range.
- You are presently employed or have not been unemployed for a long period of time.
- Your length of employment in each job falls into an acceptable range.
If you’re most recent position is not directly related to your current career objectives, it may be best to use a Combination Format that focuses more completely on your relevant functional skills, training, and accomplishments before listing your employment history.
The functional resume presents qualifications that support your current career objectives by highlighting only your functional skills.
A functional format may show a brief work history at the end of the resume, but without job descriptions and accomplishments.
The functional resume format is often used to hide unfavorable elements in a candidate’s employment history; therefore human resource professionals may view it with caution. This is particularly true when the work history is omitted (which is not recommended)
The functional resume format gives candidates more control than a chronological format over the way in which skills, experience, and training are presented. This format is appropriate for candidates whose current career goals are unrelated to their previous work history. Remember, it is best not to combine non-complementary skills as it can do more harm than good.
The combination resume combines the features of the chronological and the functional resumes. It allows candidates to focus on marketable job skills and qualifications, before presenting the candidate’s employment history. This is the favored resume format.