Are you nervous about your résumé format, concerned that it isn’t stylish and sexy enough to get you the interview? You aren’t alone. Here is a question that I just received, along with the answer that will benefit everyone struggling to write an effective marketing document.
Question: What are some of the best résumé formats you have seen?
Résumé formats are much less important than the information conveyed and the quality of the writing. If you have a good story to tell, nearly any document template will work. When I write for my clients, I start from the beginning every time and use fonts and layouts that best reflect the client’s personality, industry and career goals. Here are the must haves of your résumé:
- Use clear, readable font type and size. Print it and have a glasses-wearing friend read it. Is it clear and easy to follow? No? Redo it. Check spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage.
- Show contact information that makes you easy to reach. At a minimum, your name, phone and email address. Be sure that your outgoing voice mail greeting is professional sounding. Kill the ring back music. If I am a recruiter, I don’t want to listen to your favorite Stravinsky piece or Jay Z jam while waiting for you to answer. Be sure that your email address is professional, too. Create a new one if you have to.
- Start with a headline and concise professional profile. Avoid clichés like “results-driven detail-oriented professional with strong collaboration and multi-tasking skills.”
- Consider adding a “core skills” section to bullet your most marketable skills. Make it easy for a recruiter or HR person to see that you have what they are looking for.
- Use a chronological format for your work experience whenever possible. Your functional format is not fooling anyone, so why raise doubt by using this maligned format? Put your history out there.
- Limit the task descriptions that you use in favor of results and accomplishments. If you are an accountant, we know that you used GAAP and computers. Tell us how you led an audit that was supposed to take three months and got it done in half the time. Tell us how you created a new financial dashboard that was so well received that it is still being used today. Tell us why you are great. (See “Setting Interview Traps” for more on this idea.)
- Include relevant volunteer and community involvement information. If you are a sales person, your next boss might like that you are a member of civic organizations (you know people!).
- Finish it off with education and professional development. One exception: If you just graduated or are graduating soon, consider leading with education as it is your most marketable asset.
In summary, include information in an attractive, accessible way that will make employers want to talk to you. Make every word in your resume count, use a standard chronological format, and avoid gimmicks and fancy graphical flourishes. Substance counts much more than style.
For some clean, professional sample resumes, see Resu-mazing Services Company’s samples page.