Resume Writing: Tips to Choose the Right Format

Some people tend to think that resume writing follows a very distinct formula. For instance, the resume format should be educational background placed in one specific section of a resume and work experience in another. Then, finally, awards and commendations should be placed at the end. Add your contact information, and your resume is complete.

The reality is, however that resumes can be created in several different formats. Some formats focus the reader’s attention on the applicant’s history. Other formats simply showcase the applicant’s skills. In order to select the format that works is best for your situation you should take the time to understand each of the formats.

• Chronological Format – The chronological format is, by far, the most traditional format. In essence, the chronological format requires applicants to list their previous employers, as well as any achievements earned while working for that employer, based upon the date you help that position. Even students who have only held part-time positions should include their work history in their information. Be sure to list the dates you help each position, your job title, and your achievements in that position.

You would list your most recently-held position first and continue listing positions until you have listed each relevant position. A good rule of thumb is to include your work history for the last fifteen years or so, but you may need to reach a little further into the past if you’ve been with the same employer for ten or more years.

• Functional Format – Applicants who have a gap in their work history may find that the functional format is better-suited for their resume writing. The functional format requires that the applicant list the skills he offers grouped by their category. Managerial skills, computer systems skills, and communications skills are common categories found in this format.

• Combination Format – Some applicants will opt to use a format that combines the best of each of the above-mentioned formats. The combination format for resume writing encourages job seekers to list each position they have held, as well as the skills that they developed while they were in that position. This style of format is especially useful for applicants who have a substantial work history but are attempting to break into a new field or industry. They are able to emphasize the skills they learned in their previous positions that can be carried over to their new career.

Resume writing doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you know how to simplify the process. There are plenty of templates and samples available to make selecting a format relatively simple. Word processing programs like Microsoft’s Word make physically creating your resume a breeze. The real key, however, is to gather the appropriate information ahead of time.

How much information do you need? The amount of information required can vary from person to person. A person who has held five job positions will have to pull together more details than the person who has just graduated from college. Regardless of your situation, certain pieces of information are required from everyone.

• Awards and Commendations – If you have had the honor of receiving any awards or commendations in your field, you should definitely include them in your resume writing. Each listing should show the name of the award, the presenting organization, and the year or date of the award. Your resume is the optimal place to crow a little about your achievements.

• Professional Memberships and Certifications – A fund raising executive might be a member of the association for fund raising professionals; a lawyer will be a member of his state’s bar association. Whatever professional organization you belong to, be sure to list that membership in your application. Don’t forget to include any certifications the association has given you.

When you have chosen your format, be sure to use powerful resume words and accomplishment statements on your resume.

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