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Job Seekers Guide to Resumes

The word “resume” can instill fear in any student or job-seeker. The idea that a few sheets of paper can potentially sabotage your future career is a daunting one. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With a little knowledge about the true purpose of a resume, and some easily-learned technical skills on how to write it professionally, a resume can be your best ally when you venture out into the working world.

Even if you are years away from actually having to send one out, it’s a prudent idea to grasp and hone these skills early on so that when the time comes you will be fully knowledgeable and prepared, and have an accurate record of your education, accomplishments and work history.

The Purpose of a Resume

 Simply put, a resume is simply a concise synopsis of any experience you have that would make you attractive to a potential employer. This can include educational background, career goals, work history, special achievements, and pertinent skills. It tells an employer where you’ve been and where you want to go in the career world.

Besides these plain facts, a great resume should include a touch of creativity, a little something that sets it apart from all the rest in order for it to be truly enticing to an employer. While impeccable grammar, succinct wording and an easy-to-read layout are all must-haves of a good resume, don’t be afraid to add a touch of your personality to it.

Common Resume Styles

 Although the possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing a style or layout for your resume, there are several tried-and-true versions that are the most common. A Chronological Resume highlights past work experience that pertains to the desired career in reverse chronological order. The duties or positions held at each job should be briefly summarized.

This type of resume is a good choice if you have ample experience in the field to which you are applying. A Functional Resume is best used in a scenario where the applicant has little or no working experience that pertains to the job he or she is trying to acquire. So, rather than focusing on a work history that bears no significance to this new field, the Functional Resume instead highlights any impressive skills, talents, or accomplishments.

A brief work history is included at the bottom. A Combination Resume is a hybrid of the previous two types of resume styles, blending both a summarized work history, and a list of personal skills or accomplishments that would be impressive to the employer. Combination Resumes leave the most room for creativity and tweaking, as there are many ways to structure this type of resume.

What to Include in a Resume

 Although prior work experience may be the most important part of your resume, there are many other valid accomplishments or experiences you can include that will make you a more attractive candidate for the job. Educational history, volunteer work, special skills, fluency in foreign languages, extracurricular activities and hobbies, and time spent abroad traveling can all become an important and enticing part of a good resume.

The trick is to research the company or employer you are applying to, and to understand what slices of your life or personality are going to be most attractive to that particular employer.

Technical Standards for a Great Resume

 As with any writing, there are certain protocols and formats to follow when constructing your resume. Failing to adhere to these rules could cause your resume to be dismissed before it’s even been read. The most important ones are:

Below are further resources on learning how to write an effective, professional resume: