Your resume is the starting point of your job search. Considering the time and effort you spend developing your skills, writing an effective resume is a comparatively small additional investment of time. An effective resume will put you in position to begin using your hard-earned skills. Always get the resume help that you need from career professionals. They can offer advice and resume templates that will give your resume a more polished look.
Writing a resume is a rite of passage for first-time job seekers: however, getting resume help can be a difficult task. Even for the experienced worker, the process of condensing information on work history, skills, and education so that it fits onto a sheet of paper is a helpful exercise that can remind the seeker of just how much he or she has accomplished.
The advent of web sites allowing job seekers to post their resumes online has further transformed the resume from a passive marketing document, sent out to specific employers, to a self-renewing lead generator that can bring the job seeker to the attention of potential employers and present opportunities previously unknown. Job seekers are advised to design their resumes or use resume templates with the internet in mind. Resume examples should be easily legible and easy to find on the internet.
Advancing technology has allowed improvements in the appearance of resumes, and an army of consultants and coaches have turned resume writing into an art form. However, the basic purpose of the resume remains unchanged: it is a personal introduction to the people who have the power to hire you. A helpful resume is an executive summary of who you are professionally, what you have done, and what you wish to do. In this day and age, your resume gets you in the game.
Your First Resume
New graduates seeking their first job out of school face unique challenges but also enjoy unique advantages over those already established in the work force.
Employers have well documented concerns about prior experience and work ethic but also perceive younger workers as being teachable, adaptable to new experiences and responsibilities, and proficient in technology.
Education is of greater importance to new graduates, and many list it above employment history on their resume. A high Grade Point Average and any academic honors are important to mention. Liberal Arts graduates should also mention any career specific coursework or degree tracks.
The cliché that you need experience to get a job, but need a job to get experience, remains alive and kicking. Many students address the issue by completing one or more internships in their field of interest. Whether paid or unpaid, these are relevant experiences and should be listed in your employment history. Employers sometimes unfairly view internships as primarily involving menial work, so be as specific as possible about job duties and list them in order of importance.
On campus or work study jobs, even if not directly relevant to one's degree, should also be listed. Employers often look favorably on students who worked their way through school. Involvement in campus activities, particularly leadership positions, can also be used to fill out job history or showcase marketable skills.
Resumes for Transitioning Military Personnel
The military is notorious for its use of jargon and does not always clearly describe the skills involved in various military jobs. Military personnel transitioning to civilian employment must be able to describe the skills they possess to civilian employers in ordinary language. Many skills gained in military service are transferable to civilian jobs and the job seeker must make a case for this. For example, leadership skills learned in military service might be very desirable to a civilian employer.
Most military-transition resumes are written in a Combination format and start with a Qualifications Summary. This section in particular is your chance to highlight the transferable skills and vocational training that you acquired in the service. Medals or honors can also be mentioned.
If you are seeking private sector employment, use your specific job title, location, and date; rank and division can be omitted. Military personnel often assume a high degree of job responsibility - for expensive equipment, large budgets, or for supervising a large number of personnel. These responsibilities should be brought out in your job descriptions as should any commendations from supervisors.
You should list your Service Branch and enlistment period in the Education section. Any specialized training courses you received should also be listed in this section.
Veterans often receive preferential consideration for civil service positions. If you are seeking such employment, the contact section of your resume should provide your Veteran's Preference points.
Employers appreciate the extensive discipline and training a military career can instill. These skills and training, however, require proper translation in order to be marketable in the civilian job market.
Resumes for the Performing Arts
An actor's resume, in addition to listing employment history and experience, must provide a director with the information he or she needs to make casting decisions. This includes personal information that would normally be omitted in a traditional resume. Resume examples usually include physical characteristics, such as height, weight, and hair and eye color should be provided directly beneath your contact information. Singers should specify vocal range by note.
Professional affiliation, such as membership in the Screen Actors' Guild or Actors' Equity, is of particular importance and should be included with your contact information. Many actors in these fields work with an agency, and the agent's name and contact information should be provided. A photo should be attached, or can be added directly to the document. The resume is often printed on the back of the actor's Headshot.
The Experience section should be subdivided by category. The Theater Roles section should list characters, performances, and directors as well as the theaters at which you performed. The Television and Movie Roles section should include characters, show or movie titles, and directors. Commercials should be listed by product.
The Education section should include any professional training, specifying institution and instructor name(s). Institutions and instructors can carry particular weight in the field.
Aspiring actors have been in the forefront of utilizing the internet for self-promotion, and most working actors have their resume posted online. Actors' web pages often include links to additional photos or audio or video performance files. A number of industry specific web sites will post your resume for a fee.
Although aspiring actors pursue opportunities in very different venues from traditional job seekers, the importance of starting with a competent, professional resume template remains just as important in this field as in others.
Medical, Legal, and Teaching Resumes
Some additional comments are in order for those seeking jobs in certain professions.
Doctors and other medical professionals should take care that all licensure and certification information is provided in full, in an easy-to-find location. Many medical resume samples list these credentials directly beneath the seeker's contact information. Doctors may find it advisable to construct a Curriculum Vitae, which allows for greater detail regarding training, subspecialties, publications, and honors.
Lawyers should list the state(s) in which they are licensed to practice as well as any Bar Association memberships. If they have been employed in a traditional law firm setting, they should indicate whether such employment was as an Associate, Partner, or Managing Attorney. New graduates should highlight any Law Review membership, mock court participation, or Judicial Clerkships.
Teachers generally shoulder multiple job responsibilities, including curriculum development, committee participation, and extracurricular activity supervision. Care should be taken that all such activities be included in their Employment History. Quantifiable results, such as student test scores or discipline improvements, should be listed to attract the attention of benchmark minded administrators.
Professionals in general are advised to list any specialized training and/or certification as well any professional association membership. An official position or task-force membership within the association may also be of interest to potential employers.
Resumes for Career Changers
Changing careers has become increasingly common and acceptable in the 21st century. Research by the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that Americans change careers an average of 3 to 5 times over their working life. Nevertheless, career changers must make an extra effort to link up the transferable skills developed in their previous career(s) with their new training.
Employers will want to know what your new objective is and why you are changing careers. Your resume should provide this new objective, and your cover letter should briefly touch upon why you are making the change. You should also be prepared to discuss these issues in greater detail in interviews.
Most career changers find that a functional or combination resume serves them best. Consider which of your existing skills are most relevant to your new career and list them in order of importance. You should also take the time to learn the most common keywords of your new field and use them where appropriate.
The Education section should place special emphasis on any new training you may have received in the new field. Internships can be listed with your paid employment.
There is no denying that career changers can be at a disadvantage against an already established candidate. This disadvantage can be neutralized by turning the employer's attention to your retraining and the applicability of your established skills to the new field.
Job Seekers Over 50
Americans are staying healthier longer, and are increasingly choosing to work part-time in retirement. Nevertheless, older workers remain saddled with negative perceptions - being "past their prime" or about to retire, for example - that they must sometimes overcome in a job search.
Therefore, in preparing their resume, older workers must consider how to market their often extensive work experience without drawing undue attention to their age.
Since work experience is often their strongest selling point, older workers tend to use the chronological resume format. However, a combination resume is often better suited to highlighting an older worker's skills.
Unless you are re-entering the job market, you probably have plenty of content for your resume. Keep in mind that unless you are a high-level professional, your resume should generally be no longer than one page. Work history, unless specifically relevant to your current objective, need not be extensively detailed beyond ten to fifteen years.
College degrees should be briefly mentioned, omitting the year. An exception would be a recently acquired degree. Employers sometimes stereotype older workers as being difficult to train for new responsibilities. This perception can be countered with the mention of any recent coursework or on-the-job training.
Workers re-entering the job market can fill out their employment history by listing volunteer work. Any leadership responsibilities will be of particular interest to employers.
Employers appreciate the experience and work ethic an older worker brings to the job. Above all, resume examples you look at should seek to demonstrate these qualities, along with a willingness to learn and change.
Resumes for Those Re-entering the Workforce
Anyone who has temporarily left the workforce to raise children, care for parents, or deal with a family illness knows that these activities can be a full-time job in and of themselves. Despite the responsibilities inherent in these roles, however, those who undertake them often typecast themselves as having little to offer new employers.
Employers as a rule frown upon gaps in employment history. Therefore, individuals re-entering the workforce should take extra time to review their activities for anything that might bridge the gap from their last paid employment to the present. In fact, many new parents or caretakers get involved in activities or organizations that develop marketable skills. It is not uncommon for new careers to be made out of these activities.
Once you have thoroughly inventoried your paid and volunteer work history, you need to make (or seek) an honest assessment of your prospects. If you do make a career change - and many re-entering workers take this opportunity to do so - you may find you need additional training in order to be competitive.
Keep in mind that the culture of the field that you are targeting will be a factor in your re-entry plans. Some fields are more accommodating to family responsibilities (and taking time off to discharge them) than others. In this day and age, however, re-entering the job market is a common transition that many workers manage successfully.
The Chronological Resume: The Timeline Approach
Employers generally look for two things from your resume: that you possess the education and skills a particular position requires and that you have a reasonably stable work history.
Previously, a "stable work history" meant putting in a certain period of time at each job; workers who changed jobs frequently were given the unflattering label of "job hopper." However, increased layoffs and job mobility in general have altered these standards. A history of job changes can be offset by demonstrating a history of increased responsibility with each new job.
Job seekers with an established background in their chosen field can highlight their experience with a Chronological Resume. As the name implies, a Chronological Resume lists employment history in reverse chronological order. These resume samples start with the seeker's current job.
Those with extensive experience in their field should omit any jobs they may have held outside the field, except as needed to cover a large gap in employment. Likewise, jobs held over 15 years ago should be omitted, excepting particularly high-profile positions.
Surveys by the Massachusetts Division of Career Services and the Association of Job Search Trainers suggest that most employers prefer the Chronological Resume format.
The Functional Resume: The Categorical Approach
A familiar job-search paradox states that you need experience to get a job, and you need a job to get experience. The emphasis placed by employers on experience, coupled with the tendency of a Chronological Resume to highlight employment history above all else, can place college graduates and career changers at a disadvantage.
To dismiss these individuals as unworthy of an employer's consideration, however, is short sighted. Skills learned in school are transferable to the job market, and skills developed in one field can be transferred to another. Career changers and new graduates can highlight their transferable skills in a Functional Resume.
The Functional Resume lists the job seeker's skills, rather than employment history, underneath the seeker's contact information. These skills will vary by field; an aspiring office manager should stress business administration and budgeting experience while an Information Technology professional should list Programming Languages and Operating Systems. Employment History follows the skills listing - at a less central location on the page.
A Functional Resume format may also benefit older job seekers, seekers with a previously unfocused career path, and military personnel seeking to move to civilian jobs.
The Combination Resume: A Combination of the Functional and Categorical Approaches
Although a Chronological Resume may not adequately highlight a job seeker's true skills, employers do tend to favor the format and may look upon a strictly Functional Resume with suspicion. In addition, some find it difficult to track a job seeker's employment history on a Functional Resume (which might have been the intent of the job seeker). Job seekers can address these employers' concerns by using a resume template called a Combination Resume.
A Combination Resume opens with a Summary of Qualifications section, immediately below the job seeker's contact information, that lists those skills the seeker most wishes the employer to see. An Employment History section, in reverse chronological order, follows immediately below.
In addition to the clearly delineated Employment History, many employers are appreciative of the Summary of Qualifications as the information contained in this section can be matched to the qualifications desired. Job seekers, in turn, can customize the resume sample in the Summary of Qualifications section to match the employer's requirements.
The Combination Resume allows job seekers with a stable work history to bring their most marketable skills to an employer's attention. This type of resume can be used to showcase the candidate's skills and prevents the most desirable skills from being buried in the employment history section. A Combination Resume may, however, provide inadequate cover for the deficiencies of job seekers with limited industry experience or a spotty employment history
The Curriculum Vitae: A Resume for Academia
Job seekers in the academic, scientific, and research fields will be expected to submit a Curriculum Vitae (CV) (plural form, Curricula Vitae) with their application. A Curriculum Vitae, Latin for "Course of Life," serves the same purpose as a traditional resume but is subject to additional guidelines appropriate to the requirements of positions in academic fields.
An academic CV typically places the Education section immediately below the job seeker's contact information. This section should include graduate and undergraduate institutions, degrees, and thesis/dissertation topics. The seeker should also list courses taught, books and papers published, and fellowships or honors received. Research grants held by the applicant should be included. Seekers are advised that published works and fellowships are given particular weight for hiring in many academic institutions.
In addition to the above, a scientific or research CV should also include any professional affiliations, certifications, and licensures. A section containing information on the applicant's contributions to the academic community should be included in a CV. This section should include such information as conferences organized, experience reviewing grant and journal articles, and participation on committees. The CV should also provide details regarding any specialized areas of expertise.
Partly due to these additional informational requirements, a CV tends to be longer than a traditional resume. However, job seekers should strive for as much brevity as possible while still providing vital details about background, qualifications, and honors. The CV increases in length throughout an academic's career. In some cases, a short form of the CV may be requested. This contains the most pertinent and recent information.
Seekers in these fields can expect their credentials to be carefully checked by the hiring institution. In addition, extra care should be taken to ensure that the CV is grammatically sound and free of typographical errors.
CVs are also submitted for research grants and academic fellowships.
The Federal Resume: The Accepted Resume for Federal Job Applications
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has established specific procedures for applying for jobs with the Federal Government. For most postings, the written examination requirement has been eliminated. Postings for which a written exam is not conducted are filled according to applicants' background, education, and experience - as is done in most private industries. The elimination of the exam has given the applicant's resume far greater weight in hiring decisions.
Your Federal Resume should specify the Vacancy Identification Number of the posting you are applying for as well as the Job Title and Grade. Your contact information should specify whether you are a U.S. Citizen and provide your Social Security Number. You should also provide your Veteran's Preference Points, if any. Most Federal Resumes are more than one page in length, and this information should be provided at the top of each page.
For each job listed in your employment history, you should provide the hours worked per week, salary, and supervisor's name and telephone number. You should also indicate whether it is "OK to contact" the supervisor.
Keep in mind that your Federal Resume will be assigned a score based on how closely it matches the specific requirements of the posting. As much as possible, the sample resume you begin with should match your qualifications and experience to the job requirements as they are specifically worded.
New graduates should also specify their Grade Point Average (GPA). Those with a GPA of 3.45 or greater, or who graduated in the upper 10% of their class, are eligible for immediate hire by agencies under the OPM's Outstanding Scholar Program.
For many postings, your Federal Resume must be accompanied by a written Knowledge, Skills, and Ability (KSA) statement.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013