Learn how to choose a resume layout to best represent your work. Resume expert Stacey Gordon will talk you through standard resume formats that are relevant to the job search process, resume formats to refrain from using and how to keep items off your resume that a future employer will not find relevant.
- When you first think about formatting your resume, you probably wonder, "Why does it matter at all?" Most people think that as long as the information is there, they should have complete creative control over what the resume looks like and you would almost be correct. Resume formatting is important for a number of reasons. Many companies use an online system for processing resumes, and even if you don't apply online for the job, if you hand a resume to an interviewer it will more than likely end up being scanned into their ATS, or Applicant Tracking System.
And if you do submit a resume online, your resume will be pulled directly into the ATS. The ATS searches for keywords, doesn't work well with shaded areas on a resume, and doesn't recognize certain types of layouts. Colors, odd shaped bullet points, columns, shaded areas, and strange fonts prevent the scanning program from doing its job. And while these systems have become much smarter and are vastly improved from a few years ago, I wouldn't take any chances.
Keep in mind, this video focuses on traditional resumes and not creative or technical resumes. So, where on the resume you place information will be important. Recruiters expect information to appear in a standard format in a relatively standard area of the resume. Deviate too far from the formula and you run the risk of having your resume placed in a secondary pile. That's the pile recruiters create when the come across a resume that seems interesting but needs additional review.
It's also the pile that recruiters intend to go back to but don't always make it there. And just to make it clear, you don't wanna be in that pile. Your resume should begin at the top of the page with your name, city, and state you reside, an email address, phone number, and possibly a URL if you have a website or a LinkedIn profile that you would like to include. All of these items will appear first, and next you'll include your objective should you decide to use one, followed by a summary of skills or summary of qualifications.
Whether you place your education or your professional experience next will depend on how much experience you actually have. If you don't have any because you're new to the work force, you'll put your education first. In your professional experience section, dates of employment should be on the right side of the page easily viewed, and flow chronologically from most recent to oldest. This is where employers expect to see the dates, and when you make someone search for information you subconsciously annoy and frustrate the reader.
Make it easy by sticking to the tried and true format which also includes adding the month as well as the year for your dates of employment. The exception to this is if you've spent many years at the same job. For example, if you've been at your current job for more than five years, and you were employed at a prior job for four or more years, as long as the starting and ending years of the two jobs are the same, you can leave the months out without raising a red flag.
What employers are attempting to weed out are candidates who are using dates to mislead employers about the employment history. For example, say someone who worked from December 2014 to February 2015 was unemployed until October 2015, and started a new job in November of the same year. If it's now February 2016 and this person's resume showed they worked from 2014 to 2015 and then 2015 to 2016, you can see how misleading that will be when this person only worked for six months in a two-year timespan.
What they're doing is using those dates to cover the gaps instead of being upfront about their employment history. You can then list any number of additional optional sections such as volunteer work, contract work, achievements, publications, memberships and affiliations, and so forth. The format of you content will depend greatly upon how much content you have to begin the process with. If you are early in your career with lots of white space on your resume, you can take advantage of a style that will take up more space.
However, if you are professional with years of experience, and you're having a difficult time condensing your information into two pages, you're going to want to use an approach that will give you a little more room to play with. One last thing to note here would be items that should not appear in a traditional resume in the US. These include photos, your date of birth, hobbies, marital status, your gender, and the sentence that "References will be furnished upon request" Adding that statement is unnecessary, because it's well known that checking references are a part of the application process and contacting references at some point in the process is expected.
This may sound like a lot of information to digest, so I recommend reviewing the sample resumes in the exercise files, and then watching this video again with your resume in front of you. This way, you can mark it up and begin to note the changes you might need to make.
Stacey explains what to include and exclude on a resume and how to showcase your talents and best qualities. Using practical examples, Stacey walks through choosing the right format, tailoring information to match job requirements, and writing alternative resumes that include industry-specific information. Last, Stacey shows you how to deal with some common sore spots—like job hopping, lack of experience, or unemployment gaps—while concentrating on your experience.
- Explain how to present your experience on a resume.
- Identify where spell check will not catch mistakes.
- Recognize the proper way to present your dates of employment in your professional experience section.
- Recall when you will need a traditional resume in the entertainment business.
- Explain what you could do to fill in the void on your resume when you have been unemployed for over six months.
- Name the benefits of sending a handwritten thank-you note following an interview.
- Identify some things you can do to help you identify and eliminate red flags before applying for a job.