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Your Resume - Purpose and Design
19 December 2017
Essentially, the purpose of your resume is that of a self-marketing tool which conveys your skills, experience, achievements, and potential for a specific objective. You use it to be invited to a meeting or short-listed for an interview.
Several critical design issues also need to be considered. Strive to keep it to two pages (unless you have very extensive experience which you wish to set out in three pages). If sending or presenting it to someone have it laser printed on good quality paper, preferably crisp white. Your first page should be very clearly set out, capable of grabbing attention and exciting interest.
Avoid underlining or a mixture of font styles, be sparing in the use of italics, with plenty of white space to make it easier to scan. Resist the temptation to cram everything in. This makes it difficult to read and to convey meaning to what you are trying to convey. Your overall layout, grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be beyond reproach.
You should strive to think of your overall design within seven relevant sections, namely:
- your personal details - who you are, the name you are known by, where you can be contacted (address, phone, and email)
- your education - in what institutions or settings and over what periods
- your qualifications - what you have studied and learned and with what results
- your career objective or profile - what you are seeking and for what reasons
- your record of employment - who have you worked for and what have you achieved - in reverse chronological order
- your training and development - what enhances your marketability and competency your additional data pertinent to the position - what else others may regard as important
How you establish and demonstrate your achievements is a vital part of your documentation. It will play an important role in promoting yourself:
- Always consider the meaning of your achievements to your target audience. Endeavor to pick those parts of your performance which are likely to address the reader's concerns and at the same time benefit the goals of the organization.
- Show how your achievements came about by constructing a format which addresses three key questions. First, what was the problem you encountered or the challenge you had to meet? Secondly, how did you approach the problem/challenge and what particular technique(s) did you use to solve it? Thirdly, how did things work out in terms of results or measurable benefits?
- Focus on achievements which indicate particularly important skills within professional or managerial roles, irrespective of whether you are starting out in your career or are already at a senior level. Your ability to build cooperative teams, to present ideas clearly, to form concepts or models, or to plan and structure a project within tight budgets and time limits, are all worthy of elaboration.
- Always quantify your achievements wherever possible.
Standard Types of Resumes
To avoid being typecast, or to appear boring, many job seekers go in search of something different in order to appear distinctive - eye-catching type styles, heavily-colored paper, graphics or even photographs. In fact, it is almost always better to stick to one of the standard types of resumes when applying for professional and managerial positions.
The Chronological Resume
This type of resume moves back through time, giving greater attention to your most recent experience while at the same time showing increasing degrees of responsibility and variations in work environments. It enables you to demonstrate progress in your career and to highlight the extent of your specialization and the skills you have used within each position. It also helps to indicate what you have accomplished within particular roles or environments. These can be highlighted in the form of achievements. These enable you to stand out from the competition. Employers often view high performers with special interest.
Chronological formats are an important and convenient way of showing what you have achieved and experienced during a stable and progressive career. A brief scan identifies the quality of credentials, level and range of experience, job and sector movement and the nature of your achievements.
However, the chronological resume format is far less valuable if you have had numerous job changes, or perhaps false starts in different sectors, and where your performance has been variable or undistinguished. A probing interview is likely to highlight some of your performance deficiencies as well as raising doubts about your goals and commitment. In this case, you would be well advised to consider the functional resume format which will enable you to focus more sharply on the skills you possess and prefer to use.
The Functional Resume
Your format here will be rather different from that of the chronological resume. The approach changes to one where you are giving far greater emphasis to your key skills and potential. At the same time, you are also de-emphasizing your lack of experience or gaps in your employment history.
A functional resume can be more suitable if you have various but unrelated sets of work experiences and wish to focus on your overall personal qualities (adaptability, rapid learning ability, getting on with people). Employers tend to view functional resumes rather more critically, as they are likely to demonstrate a lack of experience, they do not show consistent career progression within a role or sector and they give scant attention to job titles and the nature of the actual job within the organizational structure. They are also far less common than their chronological counterparts and require far more effort on your part if you are to tailor them to show exactly what benefits you can bring to an organization. They tend to suit applications for more creative jobs, where an emphasis is put on the applicant's skills, not their employment history.
The Combination Resume
Essentially, this type of resume is where you are endeavoring to combine the different styles and benefits which can be derived from both chronological and functional formats. Within a combination resume you will need to pay particular attention to the following:
- your career summary or profile
- your functional skills
- your concise career history or employment record
- The combination resume is especially valuable when you wish to demonstrate that you have behind you a track record of solid performance and progression - which shows a success.
Falsehoods and Inaccuracies in the Resume
Recent surveys in the UK and the USA have shown a significant increase in the number of applicants falsifying their resumes in some way. In certain areas, particularly for more senior positions, up to one-third of resumes contain false information.
This trend has arisen in response to the intense competition surrounding many positions and where applicants are endeavoring to impress by giving misleading or inaccurate information concerning a wide range of key issues. These include qualifications, skills, experience and employment history.
Ensure that everything you write is true, accurate and capable of verification. Interviews are the occasion when your claims may well be very carefully scrutinized; you will be required to defend what you have written and any impression given that all is not what it seems will soon invalidate your application.