Previously Posted 12 May 2009
Updated 15 December 2009
Lately, I’ve been receiving an astounding number of resumes a day to critique and edit. I take resumes seriously because it is the most important way to present yourself on paper; followed by applications and cover letters. However, some resumes that I’ve received have been so horrifying that I decided to dedicate a blog on what to put in your resume. If I don’t have it in here, you don’t put it in your resume. PERIOD.
So whether your putting together a functional or chronological resume, there are a few items that will be there regardless as well as those specific for either type of resume. For both types of resumes, you’ll be placing the following:
- Header – The header should only have your full name, address, phone number and email address. Oh and for all those that use other names, you must list that as well. For example, if your name is Edward Smith but everyone calls you “Bob”, then you’d write Edward “Bob” Smith. Simple.
- Qualifications or Skill Set – Mainly this is 3-5 bullets of what skills you have that make you a top choice for the position. On a functional resume, you’re listing “qualifications” including years of experience, specialized training in that line of work and special knowledge or expertise in that line of work. On a chronological resume, you’re listing “skill set” with skill traits such as being bilingual or receiving an award relevant to the line of work.
- Education – This area should only have the degree, school name, location and the year your expected to graduate if you haven’t already. Also, if applicable, note your minor or course work, no more then 3 bullets. If you completed any project of importance (and was through a semester or a good period of time), that should go in your work experience. Please don’t write out a summary of your masters’ thesis here!
Now the main and most important part of a resume is your experience versus your major skill sets. How you want to showcase what best represents you determines which resume format you use between a functional resume and a chronological resume.
In functional resumes, you will place under the header the job title or position in which you are applying for. Then, pick three major functions related to that job and below it list of at least three bullets of the appropriate tasks in which you did in your previous jobs. Then you simply list in the end your job title, company name, city and state location then the time period in which you worked there. This resume format is perfect for students or those with minimal job experience as it highlights your major skill sets rather then your long work history.
For chronological resumes, you will list each position with the job title, company name, location and the time period in which you worked there. Under each job title, you’ll list at least three bullets of the tasks in which you did your previous jobs. This resume format is recommended for those who have a long history of working in a specialized area or want to show case their work history.
However, if you do have a long work history, you can list the most relevant history and note that should they require a complete work history, it is available upon request. From my personal experience, I’ve actually have shown this long history only twice but noting it’s availability is important. Make sure you keep an updated list of your work history so that you can also update your master application as well. Remember that your work history includes volunteer work and any major projects or contract work you completed. This is especially important for students who have done more volunteer work then paying jobs because any type of experience is relevant and should be listed.
Please remember that if you aren’t presented well on paper, the employer will not call you in for an interview. I recommend having your resume proof read and critiqued by at least two trusted individuals for constructive feedback.