Writing your resume to overcome the initial review of a recruiter that sees hundreds, maybe thousands of resumes every week is definitely a challenge.  You must also think about applications that are designed to search for specific key words within your resume.  With these major obstacles, you should really put serious thought into writing a resume that will help you achieve your goals.   

Resumes are a frequently talked about subject.  The number of opinions on resumes is almost equal to the total number of job seekers.

Objectives, summaries, profiles, title headings, keywords, reference statements, personal interests, salary history, dates, graphics, fonts, and of course, the length of the resume are all topics up for discussion when you start writing a resume.

Which format should I use?  There are three styles that are most often used - chronological, functional or a combination. A resume should sell a candidate's strengths and qualifications.  Your resume should focus on answering a hiring manager's question, "How can you solve my problem?" 

It should contain full contact information, be organized, and provide specific information that a hiring manager needs to decide whether or not a candidate is a good match for a position. At the very least, it should list relevant experience and achievements.

Why a Resume?

A resume is a personal marketing document designed to communicate your career objective and value to a hiring company. A strong resume is not done at the spur of the moment, but carefully planned and developed in a format designed to highlight your experience and accomplishments in direct relation to a specific position. 

Basic Formatting Rules:

  • Bold and enlarge your name at the top.
  • Keep the sections lined up and consistent.
  • Use an Arial or Times New Roman font (or similar).
  • Font size shouldn't be smaller than 11pt or larger than 12pt, except for your Name and Headings.
  • Do not include pronouns such as "I," company street addresses, salary, or reasons for leaving.
  • 2-page resume: be sure to fill the 2nd page at least 1/2 way down the page.
  • Place “Continued” at the bottom of page one, and your name and “Page 2” at the top of page two.
  • Use graphics sparingly unless you are in a creative field. It is safe to use a border and shading.
  • Leave out personal data, photos, and unrelated hobbies, unless you are an actor/actress or model.
  • If you spell out the state in your address, such as New York, spell out the states for your jobs.
  • Proof read over and over again!

There are three primary resume styles used today.  A chronological resume is the more common, listing current work and moving down to your first job. Chronological resumes work well for people who have remained in the same profession and can demonstrate an evolving, improving history of experience.

For people who change jobs frequently, it can make you appear less reliable and knowledgeable. The functional resume works best for older workers; for frequent job changers; for those who have a career hiatus (such as for child-raising or illness); and for anyone who wishes to focus more on skills. Many resumes tend to be a combination of both approaches.


Here are links to examples of each style to illustrate the same resume in the different formats:

Chronological - Functional - Combination

To compete in today's competitive workplace, it is important to avoid common resume mistakes.  Read all you need to know and want to get started?  Write your resume, so you are confident it is a good product that will not knock you out of contention before the employer even starts reading the content.