As the owner and manager of a small business, I get resumes sent to me every week from desperate graduates looking for work. Their style and length vary about as much as the skill set. Some catch my eye long enough to read. Still, most I discard without even a glance due to poor formatting and inappropriate content. Since few people seem to realize just how important a well-designed and appropriate resume is, I thought I’d put together a “how-to” guide for you.
There are many different types of resumes that can assist you in landing your dream job. Here I have tabulated the most appropriate types of resumes by experience level & function, along with some tips that ensure you stand out.
|Type of Resume||Industry/Function That it’s Most Appropriate For.||Not Appropriate For|
|Chronological Resume||Best for new graduates or relatively inexperienced candidates.||Experienced candidates, specialists, or people in the creative industries.|
|Functional Resume||Best for people with more than 5 years of experience or people applying for a niche or specific job.||New graduates or inexperienced candidates.|
|Combination Resume||This is the best multipurpose resume that works with most jobs and industries. It is favored by hiring managers and employers.||Candidates in the academic or creative industries.|
|Targeted Resume||Best for the seasoned or experienced candidate or for someone in a niche job function or industry.||New graduates or inexperienced candidates.|
|Mini Resume||Best for networking events or job fairs.||Not appropriate as a formal application for a job.|
|Scannable Resume||Online job applications||–|
|The Creative Resume||Best for people in creative or innovative industries, particularly those with a visual focus such as graphic design, advertising, etc.||More formal sectors such as finance, law, etc.|
|Curriculum Vita||Best for educational or academic positions.||Not appropriate for the formal or corporate sectors or for the creative industries.|
What is the Function of a Resume
A resume’s only purpose is to land you an interview. It should highlight your strengths and skillsets in a clear, concise & visually appealing manner that should result in a job interview.
The 8 Main Types of Resumes
This is probably the type of resume you were taught to create in school or university. This is what it sounds like, a backward chronological list of your qualifications and experience, that start with your most recent job and working backward toward your first job.
These resumes are suitable for people with little or no experience. They give potential employers an overview of what you’ve been doing for the last 5 years or so, even if it isn’t directly related to the job you are applying for. When looking at these types of resumes, employers are generally hiring for entry-level positions. They just want to get a broad idea of your skill set and work experience.
Functional resumes tend to be better for people with more than 5 years of experience or professionals changing job functions or industries. This type of resume tends to avoid chronological work experience and focus on the candidate’s most relevant skills & qualifications for the advertised job. Instead of starting with your educational qualifications or most recent work experience, they start with a summary of the qualifications and skill sets that make the candidate a good fit for the advertised job. Often your education comes much further down in categorization.
These resumes tend to be somewhat unpopular amongst hiring managers as they make candidate tracking more difficult.
A combination resume is exactly what it appears to be, a combination of a chronological and functional resume. Employers like this type of resume as the chronology makes it easy to read & understand the candidate’s job history & experience. A combination resume allows you to create a targeted summary of your most relevant experience for the job offered. It is not important if it isn’t the most recent thing the candidate has done.
This type of resume is much more suitable for seasoned and experienced candidates in a niche or unusual field. It suits those who have worked in a particular field for a long time and would like to avoid repetitious job descriptions. It can also be suitable for candidates who have a lot of specific skills and qualifications or unique work histories.
The resume is tailored specifically for the advertised job opening in this format, with only relevant experience & qualifications included. For maximum effect, a tailored covering letter telling the hiring manager why you would be the best fit for the job should accompany this type of resume.
This is a relatively new type of resume, used mostly for business networking events. It falls somewhere between a business card and a full resume. It is the perfect document for handing out at a networking event. It gives more information than a standard business card but is more readable than a lengthy professional resume. This resume should include your full name & contact details and a brief summary of your industry qualifications and accomplishments.
Less often discussed, but nonetheless very important, are scannable resumes. While traditional resumes are designed to be printed out and a physical copy handed to a hiring manager or potential employer, a scannable resume is designed for online applications. If you’ve ever had to write or copy and paste information into an online text box when applying for a job, you’ve created a scannable resume.
These types of resumes are commonly used by large companies to save the hiring managers time when it comes to going through job applications. When submitting a scannable resume, you need to ensure that you include as many of the key terms in the job description as possible. Before applying, read through the job description carefully and research the company and make sure you include as many of the terms that seem important to them as possible. The aim is to tailor your resume so that a computer will scan your application and think that you are qualified and a good fit for the position.
Never copy and paste info from your traditional resume into one of these online submission forms. You won’t be very likely to get to the interview stage unless you include the key terms they are looking for. In this format, traditional ordering and formatting are not important.
The Creative Resume
A creative resume is, well, creative. Many people make use of infographics and interesting layouts to display their qualifications and skills. These resumes are much more common in the more creative or visual fields, such as advertising, marketing, and as applications companies that pride themselves on their innovation and forward-thinking.
For examples of this kind of resume, type the term ‘creative resume’ into Google images, and you’ll see some of the best examples along with some that are just not that great. If you plan to use this approach, ensure you show a few qualified people your resume for feedback before sending it out.
Do not use this type of resume for more traditional or conservative industries, as it likely won’t go down that well.
The last type of resume we’ll discuss is the curriculum vitae. These are most commonly used in education and academia. While most resumes stick to one or two pages, a curriculum vitae can run to 30 or 40 pages. Curriculum vitae are used mostly for professions where a lengthy & detailed description of the applicant’s qualifications and experience matters for promotion. The information may include details of specialist workshops attended, courses the applicant has taught, papers published, and research the applicant has participated in.
Suppose you are applying for a job where you think a curriculum vitae may be required. In that case, it’s worth calling and asking before putting in the kind of effort a curriculum vitae requires.
What are the 7 important parts of a resume?
A couple of key pieces of information will be required in almost every kind of resume. The 7 most important things you should include.
- Obviously, you’ll want to include your name and address, and contact info. This seems obvious, but the number of resumes I’ve received with no or outdated contact details beggars belief!
- The job objective – make sure you state what job you are applying for. Again this is an obvious thing that is often left out of a resume.
- Your work Experience. This should include your job title, the date and time you were employed in that position for and the tasks or duties you performed.
- Your education. This is any formal training or tertiary education you received that qualifies you for the position.
- Accomplishments, Honors & activities. This would include any special recognition you received for activities related to the position you are applying for. Any accomplishments – again related to the job you are applying for – and lastly, any hobbies or leisure activities that may benefit the position you are applying for.
- Special Skills that would enhance your ability to perform in the position.
- These should be previous employers or managers who you know will give positive feedback on your skills and abilities. It is important to ask people if they are prepared to give you a reference before listing them as one. In addition, try to list appropriate and recent references. Listing someone you last worked for in a completely different industry 10 years ago is unlikely to be favorably regarded by a hiring manager.
What Resumes do Employers Prefer?
The most popular resume format is the reverse-chronological format. It’s easy to quickly skim and ascertain whether the applicant has the relevant skills and experience. In addition, recruiters and hiring managers are accustomed to this format, as most people use it.
What are four things a great resume shows employers?
There are several things that most employers are looking for that should be evident on your resume or written application.
First and most importantly, you should be qualified for the position you are applying for. If you don’t have the necessary qualifications, you waste both your time and the hiring manager or employers. Read the requirements of the job description carefully to ensure that you meet the criteria.
Another important consideration is whether you meet the employer’s needs. You may well be qualified for the position from a theoretical point of view. Still, if the employer is looking for a candidate with 10 years of experience. You are newly qualified, you may not be meeting the employer’s needs.
Attitude can often be more important than skills and qualifications. The manner in which your resume and cover letter are written should convey the sense that you have a good work ethic, are flexible, likable, and work well with others. This can be conveyed by writing tone and reinforced by your references.
What is your ‘special sauce’ or the unique offering you would bring to the position? This can often be difficult to quantify because it will be unique to every person. It could be some of the different jobs you had, awards you’ve won, achievements in a particular position, specialist training, or skills. It should add up to something more than just a mediocre list of skills and/or achievements.
What are the 8 basic steps to writing a resume?
Step 1: Choose a format and design. Look at the different types of resumes above and decide which one is most relevant for both your industry and the position you are applying for.
Step 2: Add your contact information. If the hiring manager or potential employer can’t contact you, you definitely won’t get the job!
Step 3: Craft an engaging professional summary. Here is the place to tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. Read the job description carefully and include any special key terms, skills, or qualifications required for the job you are applying for. Include some personal or soft skills that will make you the perfect candidate, such as the ability to work in a team, speed & proficiency, or attention to detail.
Step 4: Highlight your skillset. Make sure you include all the skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Exclude skills that have no relevance in the job role as these will distract from your core skills.
Step 5: Focus on key experience. Emphasize the experience that is most relevant to the position you are applying for. Exclude or skim over work experience that is not relevant to the position.
Step 6: Outline your education. Unless you are a recent graduate, it is unnecessary to go into too much detail concerning your education. Stick to the actual qualifications and where and when they were attained. The exception to this would be when applying for an academic or educational position where more detail might be required.
Step 7: Review and reduce. Unless you are writing a curriculum vitae, you’ll want to keep your resume as short, punchy, and easy to follow as possible. Remember that hiring managers and employers have to process many applications. This means that they are likely to discard yours if it is too long, badly formatted, or difficult to read. Ask friends or colleagues to critique your resume and check it carefully for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. A badly written resume will not make a very good impression on the hiring manager or employer.
Step 8: Do include a personalized, tailored covering letter explaining why you are interested in the position and how you could add value to the company.
What Should You Avoid on a Resume?
1. Don’t make your resume too long.
Keep the reader interested by showcasing your experience and qualifications in as little space as possible, but don’t sacrifice your achievements to do this. A two-page resume is enough for most job seekers with more than 10 years of experience. Generally, whatever is on subsequent pages will not even be read if the reader is not engaged.
2. Make your job function clear to the reader.
Start your resume with a title and summary that clearly outlines what you do and how you do it. Make it very easy for a hiring manager or employer to understand what you do with very little effort.
3. Make your resume searchable.
Remember that many resumes are initially sorted by a computer or online system. It is important to include key search terms in your resume to ensure that hiring managers looking for your expertise can find you easily. Make sure you emphasize your competencies.
4. Be specific.
Use quantifiable achievements, focused language and terminology, and deliberate wording throughout your resume to highlight your skills and experience. Tailor each resume to the specifics of a job requirement as this will increase your chances of success.
5. Use action-driven wording rather than a list of tasks.
Avoid using lists of tasks under the heading “duties included’; it becomes boring and repetitive. Rather use action-driven words and bullet points enumerating results rather than tasks. Remember that the hiring manager or employer is more interested in what you achieved within the job spec than in the boring day-to-day activities of your job.
6. Be proactive rather than passive.
Employers hire candidates who can save them money, make their money, or streamline their processes to make money faster. Demonstrate in your resume how you have accomplished this in the past and intend to achieve similar results for the new company—regardless of your position. Whatever you do, don’t start a section with the phrase “Responsible for.” Instead, show how you achieved results or improved processes by going over and above your basic responsibilities.
7. Use third-person verbs rather than pronouns.
You do not need to use the first person (I) or third person (they) pronoun in a resume. Make sure to use third-person verbs only. Personalization is only required for your personal statements, cover letters, and bios.
8. Proofread your Resume.
Make sure you proofread your resume for typos and grammatical errors. As obvious as this sounds, overlooking errors can happen to anyone. Read your resume aloud and ask a trusted colleague or friend to check your resume for errors that spellcheck might miss.
9. Make your resume visually appealing.
Don’t go too crazy – unless you’re creating a creative resume. However, you can use conservative pops of color or varied font sizes to make your resume attractive and engaging. Make your resume visually interesting by using a tasteful text box with relevant data to draw the reader’s attention to key accomplishments. You can even use visual elements like color and font treatment to ensure your resume stands out from the competition.
10. Think about what the recipient might want to see.
Don’t simply list every job you ever did without thinking of what the recipient of your resume might be interested in seeing. Rather tailor your resume to appeal to the job you are applying for, the hiring manager or employer might want to see. Make sure you highlight the achievements that best speak to the job role you are applying for. Demonstrate how you can solve a problem or make the most of an opportunity to achieve results for the potential employer. Emphasize how you can be the solution they are looking for, rather than making your resume all about you and your needs.
11. Do not attach inappropriate or unnecessary documents to your resume.
For some reason, many people will include a copy of their identity document, driver’s license, or social security number and copies of the degree certificates to applications. Do not attach these kinds of documents unless they are specifically requested.Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of identity theft and annoying the recipient with unnecessary information.
12. Don’t send your resume to multiple people at the same time.
I have often found myself the recipient of a very generic ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ mailshot. This email has been sent unsolicited to multiple companies with a resume attached. It often has nothing to do with my core business or any of the other recipients. If you’re going to send an unsolicited resume with the hopes of getting a position at a company, please do the research to find out if that particular post is relevant to the company. Try to ascertain whether they’re looking to hire soon and whether you have the right qualifications. A phone call to the hiring manager or HR department is often a better first contact than an unsolicited email with a generic greeting.
13. Do not lie on your resume.
You will get caught out eventually, and in some cases, there can be severe consequences in certain industries where formal qualifications are crucial.
14. Avoid listing family and friends as references.
This is not professional behavior unless you have worked for them personally – and even then, rather list a direct supervisor in the business.
A resume is the first impression you’ll make on a hiring manager, recruiter, or potential employer, so make it count. Do your research, ensure you are qualified for the position you are applying for, and ensure that your resume looks professional.
Read the instructions for submission carefully. The hiring manager or job advertisement will often require you to send the application to a specific person with a code or the job title in the subject line. They may ask you for additional documents or to include specific information in your application. Suppose you cannot follow the submission instructions. What are the chances you’ll be able to perform the job required proficiently?
Compose a professional and courteous introductory email or covering letter that positions you as a serious candidate with the ability to communicate formally and professionally. It’s amazing how many candidates don’t bother to address their applications to the person listed on the job advertisement. Instead, they start the email ‘Dear Sir/Madam.’ Another pet peeve is when candidates use abbreviated text more suitable for a text message. This could include using things like ‘gr8’ instead of ‘great’ or whose covering letter is filled with grammatical and spelling errors.
Don’t use a template for your cover letter. It’s always a little jarring when a letter is addressed to me but refers to a competitor’s company rather than my own. It’s quite obvious that the candidate has copied and pasted the same application to multiple companies. This can show lack of attention to detail and laziness on the part of the applicant.
Ensure that the people you listed as references are happy to give you a reference and will give you a good reference. Some companies have a policy against giving references and merely confirm that you worked there for the listed period.
Lastly, make sure your resume is in the appropriate format for the position and industry you are applying for. Don’t send a curriculum vitae to an advertising agency or a creative resume to a financial institution.