Resume Tips: Content and Order

Trying to get started on your resume but not sure about what content and order to use? No worries! We’ve put together this handy list to get you off on the right path with regards to preferred structure, format, and content. Read on:

  • Provide a complete work history for the past 10-15 years without omitting jobs during that span.
  • Prepare a reverse-chronological resume, with the most recent employment at the top. For consultants, a functional resume format is preferred.
  • A good place to start is your personal contact information. Most center this information at the top of their resumes.  Make sure it is your current personal, not work contact information.
  • If you include an objective, it must be written specifically for the job you are applying to or you could be ruled out. Tailor it each time, leave it broad or leave it out.  If you’ve created a resume template, be sure you check each version to make sure it matches the right role and company.
  • When listing dates, use months and years. Right- or left-justify all dates on your resume such as:  dates of employment, dates of each position held and dates of education, as this creates a clearer timeline for the reader and is a better use of space.
  • Dates of employment with the company should be more prominent than the dates you held each job within the organization.  Use formatting to differentiate.
  • Provide a one-sentence description of each of your company’s location and size, what it does, and what type of entity it is, such as headquarters, division, plant, etc.
  • For the most recent role at each company, provide your title and a sentence listing your responsibilities and bullet points for accomplishments. For less recent roles, trim to the most salient details.
  • If you’ve been promoted while working for a company, list prior job titles and dates to show the accomplishment implied by your progression.
  • If the company changed ownership while you were there, generally you will show it as one employment entry, noting the name and ownership change.
  • Use action verbs whenever possible to describe the work you’ve done.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Use bullet point statements, not paragraphs, to describe your job duties and accomplishments. 
  • Explain your jobs using terms that are more widely used and understood by outsiders.
  • Use effective keywords. Most resumes today are entered into a resume database that scans for relevant keywords. A good way to ensure that you’ll show up is to find similar job postings or descriptions online and evaluate your resume against them.  Pinpoint competencies you haven’t listed on your resume and consider adding them. 
  • It is critical to include your software skills.  Software with which you are proficient should be listed in each of your jobs or in a separate section labeled as such.  If you have advanced skills, be sure to note that.  Keyword search specifically check for software, even something as common as Excel.
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