Your Resume Writing Format
Sets You Apart

Your resume writing format will, indeed, set you apart. But in which way will it set you apart?

  • Will it be set into the short list pile for follow-up? or
  • Will it be dismissed immediately?

Obviously, your goal is the former: You want the follow-up, and you want the interview! So, make sure that your resume format is an excellent and effective one!

What makes an effective resume writing format?

The various sections of your resume should be clear and easily identifiable.


What format will you use?


A few hints can help you define your effective resume writing format.

Your goal is to make the important information "jump" from the page. Do not force your reader to "work" to read and understand what you want to say. Always write for your reader.

Side headings. Use clear side headings to indicate the various sections of your resume. Provide clear titles, and provide consistent format for each side heading. Don't let the side headings overpower the rest of the document. A balance is necessary.

White Space. Good use of white space to make the reading easy. Too little gives the document a crammed-together appearance, looks sloppy, and is difficult to read. Too much wastes space and again makes the reading difficult, but in a slightly different way.

Left alignment. Very few different tab stops so that the reader's eye is directly clearly to your writing. Too many tab stops make the document very busy and very complicated - and the result is a document that is sloppy and very difficult to read. You must make your document professional and easy to read and understand.

The fully-justified format (where a date or other important information is positioned waaaay over to the right side) is also an unnatural format and presents another difficult read.

Be consistent in all ways.

Proofread for accuracy in every regard.




The sections to include

CONTACT INFORMATION

Your name and contact information should appear clearly at the top of the resume and clearly on each subsequent page of your resume.

Your goal should be to try to keep your resume to one page. However, a second page is generally necessary with most situations.

A third page is rarely necessary. If you have three pages, you should downsize - revise and combine similar information to significantly reduce the amount you are writing.

Provide a clear and defined main title for your document. A good title will include your name and possibly the year for reference.

Return to top

OBJECTIVE

The objective should appear at the top to provide a focus. Keep it short and clear. Emphasize how you can contribute to the reader's (prospective employer's) needs.

Some will tell you that the objective is not necessary. However, a resume without an objective lacks that important focus. It is your opportunity to appeal directly to your reader's needs and interests.

Resumes should be tailored to each specific application. Gone are the days when one might prepare a resume, photocopy it 20 times and drop it off to countless offices. You can individualize your resume very easily today.

SKILLS

If Skills are important to your application, highlight skills at the top. If Education is important, then highlight the Education at the top. Again, consider the specific situation and specific requirements of the application to determine the best order of sections.

Present a list of skills. Keep the bulleted points short. If you need longer points, begin each point with a short keyword or keywords at the beginning. Place a period after the keyword. Then, write an explanatory sentence.

The reader's eye will jump to the keyword - and the bulleted point becomes much easier to read. Your goal is to make the reading easy.

Keep your list to a maximum of 6 points. Longer than 6 points defeats the goal of making the reading easy.

EDUCATION

How do you present education so that it is easy to read? That may be a challenge. Your goal in your resume writing format is to make the important information jump off the page.

Present your education in reverse chronological order - the most recent first. If you have post-secondary education, you don't need to list your secondary education.

Here is an example of an effective resume writing format for the education section:

What should you notice about the above?

You'll probably say that it's very short. Yes, because this is obviously a recent graduate. In this resume writing format:

  • Notice the effective use of bold.
  • Notice the effective use of indents.
  • Notice the consistent format with the parentheses and the content within the parentheses.

The information in the parentheses is in the same location in each entry, and it is very easy to scan. That information effectively jumps off the page at the reader.

*****************

If we add some information to that resume writing format, we can continue to make it very easy to read. For example:

What to notice about the above resume writing format?

  • Notice the effective use of bold - but not an overuse.
  • Notice the effective use of indents. You can tell what is supposed to belong together.
  • Notice the consistent format with the parentheses and the content within the parentheses.
  • Notice the parallel structure. Everything that is identical is presented in the same identical format for consistency.
  • Notice the white space. Two blank lines are left before the second heading UPGRADING COURSES. That sets it apart from the section immediately above.

Note that you should try to leave 2 blank lines before the main side headings - just to set them apart. Your resume writing format will be quite excellent!

Return to top




WORK EXPERIENCE

How do you present your work experience so that it is easy to read? The same format as used for Education is functional for the Work Experience section as well. Your goal is to make the important information jump off the page.

Present your work experience in reverse chronological order - the most recent first. Generally, all you need to list is the past 10 years - not more than that. The exception would be if you have done something worthwhile years ago that you feel would be beneficial to mention. In that case, perhaps consider a separate heading and separate section - Relevant Experience, or something similar.

Here is an example of an effective resume writing format for the work experience section:

Return to top


VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES

One of the most important sections can be a listing of your volunteer activities. An employer wants to know that you are an altruistic individual, not just interested in your own welfare, but interested in the welfare of others. Interested in making your community (and hopefully your job environment) a better place. Choose carefully when you list your volunteer activities.

Avoid highlighting religious activities - unless, of course, you are applying for a religious position.

Instead, focus on the actual activity, rather than the fact that it may be church-related. Religion and politics should not be part of your employment environment.

Personal beliefs should be kept just that - personal. If you make it clear that you are extremely religious - and proudly exclaim that in your resume - you may find it to be detrimental.

Maintain a fine balance, and a middle-of-the-road approach.

Use a bulleted-list format for these activities to make the section easy to read. The list should be a maximum of 6 short points.

INTERESTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

This should be a short section near the end of the resume. Use a bulleted-list format. Again, consider carefully the interests you wish to disclose.

Avoid focusing on religious activities or political activities to indicate that you may be extremely religious or extremely political. An interest may be fine, but fanaticism would never be a trait sought after by a prospective employer.

A good fit. Remember that the employer wants to hire someone who will "fit in" well with the current employees - so consider your entries in this section very carefully.

Use a bulleted-list format for these activities to make the section easy to read. The list should be a maximum of 6 short points.

REFERENCES

The references section may be omitted from the resume; however, in an online resume, this final section provides a good indication that the reader has reached the end of the document. So, it may be a good idea to include the section. Write only, "Available upon request."

Do not include the actual listing of your references in the main body of the resume. Yes, you need references for any job, and yes, it's a good idea to tell the reader that you are most willing to provide references. Just do not include them at this first stage.

Wait until you reach the interview stage of this job search-activity. Take with you a separate page - prepared professionally in the same format as you have used for the resume - that lists all the references and their contact information. Use good quality bond paper - as you did for the resume - and present it to the interviewer.

...and finally, Good luck!

Two Samples

Two samples to show how you can format the resume to make the information easy to read.

  • Try to avoid the fully-justified format which spans the entire page.
  • The normal comfortable reading pattern is from left to right and top to bottom.
  • Information tacked on to the right side of the page is not easily seen.


Here is the first example. It's okay, but can be improved.

Here is the second example of an improved resume writing format that makes the important information jump from the page.

Good luck as you learn to experiment with your resume writing format!

LINK - Click here to find an excellent online business writing course.

› Resume Writing Examples