The first step to a crafting an effective resume is getting the format and layout right.
Most experts suggest limiting your resume to just one or two pages. The key is to keep it as brief as possible by sharing only the information that is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Hank agrees that the ideal length for most resumes is two pages, but adds that this also depends on a job seeker’s level of experience.
“Inexperienced individuals should not add non-relevant, filler content to their resume to get it to two pages,” says Boyer. “Concentrate on facts that are relevant to the employer and the specific position.”
“Experienced individuals should stick with two pages as a maximum, unless applying for a position in education, as a scientist, journalist or other profession where patents, publications, certifications, or other accreditation is important to provide.”
“For experienced individuals, accomplishments and education older than 15 years should be condensed to save space, and focus on the most recent and relevant accomplishments,” he adds.
Another way to save space is to use just one or two lines for contact information, rather than having a separate line for each item, and cut out unnecessary words like “phone number”, “address” and “email”.
Don’t bother including a line about “references available on request”, since it goes without saying that you would provide references if an employer asked for them.
The main sections you will need to include are: your name, contact information, a brief personal statement, education and work experience.
Other optional sections could include skills, qualifications and awards, and personal interests or activities. Many job seekers these days also include a link to one of their professional online profiles, such as LinkedIn or a personal website.
The first page should always feature your name, contact details and personal statement at the top, but the order in which you include the rest depends on the type of resume format you decide to use.
Three basic resume formats
3 basic resume formats
The chronological resume format is the most common. Employers tend to prefer it as it gives them a quick and orderly overview of everything they want to know.
In this format, education and work experience are listed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent and relevant information appears first.
A functional resume format isn't generally recommended, but it can serve an important purpose in some cases. For instance, job seekers who have been out of the workforce for many years may use this format to avoid drawing attention to the gaps in their work history.
In this format, the most relevant skills and experience are listed in no particular order, othen in the form of headings and bullet points. Specific dates are either left out or included briefly at the bottom of the resume.
As the name suggests, this resume format is a combination of the chronological and functional format. It’s preferable to a functional format because it’s less confusing, but it still highlights the job seeker’s strengths.
In this format, headings will be based on skills rather than specific titles, but the information will be organisational in reverse chronological order.
Four resume tips
When it comes to the layout, Boyer points out that it’s important to make it easy for the reader to find relevant information, and this can be done by paying attention to the following things:
Employers tend to scan a resume and make up their mind about a candidate before actually reading everything line by line.
To make the important things stand out at a glance, Boyer suggests breaking up blocks of text with bullet points, bolding, subheadings, and concise paragraphs. “Use bullet point phrases and short sentences to communicate key accomplishments and applicable information to the reader. Economise with words where possible,” he advises.