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Resumes that Work Harder than You Do

Posted on 20 August 2008

The resume must be carefully crafted to appeal to a specific audience, which may mean you will need to create several different versions.

Two Types of Resumes

Two common styles of resumes are reverse-chronological and functional.

  • Reverse-Chronological: In this resume, the job history is spelled out from the most recent job backward. Titles and organizations are emphasized, and duties and accomplishments within those jobs described. This format’s advantages are its emphasis on continuity and career growth. This style is best used when your career direction is clear and the job target is directly in line with your work history.
  • Functional: This format highlights major job function areas stressing skills and accomplishments, and allows you to organize them in an order that most supports your work objectives and job targets. Actual titles and work history are in a subordinate section. Try a functional resume format if you are changing occupations or launching your first job search without any direct experience in the field. In a functional resume you should feature three to four skill sets listed under separate headings. In each set describe skills and accomplishments.

Standard Categories on Your Resumes

Functional Resume Headings:

  • Administration
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
  • Environment
  • Community Affairs
  • Financial Analysis
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Planning/Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Health Care
  • Nutrition
  • Writing and Editing
  • Consulting
  • Journalism
  • Research
  • Organizational Development
  • Name, Address, Telephone and Email: This information is usually centered at the top of the page. The exception is if you give a school address and home address. In this case, center the name and put your addresses in the upper left and right corners.
  • Objective (recommended, but optional): Stating an objective on your resume entails giving a clear description of a particular title or occupational field that you want to pursue and the type of organization for which you would like to work. It can be a powerful tool to attract an employer’s attention. Do not include an objective if your resume is going to be stored online in a database such as or in a college’s internal recruiting system.
  • Education: List your university degree(s), or expected degrees, and dates in reverse chronological order. Next, list your areas of concentration, academic honors, and any specific course work that may be of special interest to employers. Remember to include the city and state and year of graduation.
  • Work Experience: This section is usually the most important to an employer and should incorporate all experience; paid, unpaid, volunteer and extracurricular may be included. This is your chance to highlight the accomplishments you have achieved and the corresponding skills you can offer an employer. The detailing of functions performed and goals achieved is best accomplished by using action verbs. Electronic versions of your resume should be sent in Text-Only format. In this type of resume format you want to stress nouns that indicate departments, computer applications and any specialized areas of knowledge. Many companies use databases from which they retrieve resumes by searching key words such as “accounting,” “C++” and “financial analysis.”
  • Awards and Honors: These may be included in the education section; however, a separate category is a good way to outline academic or other scholarships, fellowships or prizes should you have many to list.
  • Technology: Technical skills that relate to your education and work can be listed in this section, (e.g., Lotus Notes, Microsoft Office, SPSS, reading blueprints and CAD/CAM).
  • Languages: If you are proficient in any foreign languages, list them in a separate category.
  • Publications (optional): This is your chance to highlight any research and writing. List publications by title, journal and date.
  • Extracurricular and Community Activities: Affiliations with well-known organizations often make a positive impression with potential employers. Leadership positions, initiation of new programs, athletic achievements, organization of student groups or unusual accomplishments can be listed.
  • Interests: If you have interests, sports, hobbies or activities that you think might make you more attractive or unique to employers, highlight them here. Resumes often look the same, but your interests can make you stand out.
  • “References Available Upon Request”: Do not include this tagline. It is assumed you will provide references.
  • Exclude: Height, weight, health, marital status, date of birth and references to religious or political groups.

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