Formatting your resume effectively

The most important thing in a resume is good formatting, followed by strong writing skills. If a resume is poorly formatted, no matter how well it is written, it will be dismissed. I typically delete any resumes that do not offer clean, easy to read formatting. This means: “Summary of Qualifications” at the top. The Summary of Qualifications can be anywhere from 2-5 sentences that clearly depict why you are qualified for the position. This should be followed by “Work Experience.” Your Work Experience should include strong action verbs followed by examples of your PEP. PEP is short for Productivity, Efficiency and Performance and is a term I have coined. It is important that you use bullets to draw out the reader’s attention and that your dates are lined up on the right hand side of the page with your employer’s name and your title on the left.
Finally, you want to have an “Education” and a “Skills” section. The Education portion should clearly list any Degrees you have attained, but does not have to include the dates that you attained those Degrees. The Skills section should list all of the relevant computer skills that you possess.
Avoid having a “Hobby” or “Interest” section, as for the most part employers don’t care.

Functional Vs. Reverse Chronological Resumes

When is it appropriate to use a functional vs. a reverse chronological resume?

First let me start by explaining that a reverse chronological resume is what you see when you look at a typical resume. It starts with your most recent position and goes backwards with a description of each job. A functional resume is a list of all of your skills done with bullet points of your skills listed at the top and a breakdown of your past employers listed at the bottom with simply your employer, title and dates and no description under each position.

So what type of resumes do employers prefer?

Hands down, reverse chronological resumes are preferred by recruiters and employers alike. The problem with functional style resumes is that it is impossible to tell what type of work you did for each specific position. Interestingly though, that is also the good thing about functional style resumes if you are looking to switch careers.

Functional resumes are good for three types of people:

1) Recent college graduates who do not have much work experience
2) People who are looking to transition out of one field into another
3) People who have a lot of movement on their resumes

Even though employers strongly dislike functional style resumes, they are very useful for recent college graduates. When you have recently graduated, you often do not have specific work experience, however, you do have skills that you acquired during school that you can list on your resume under the functional style.

The same is true for people who are changing careers. You might not have specific work experience in your target field, but you may have similar knowledge from your past position which you can list under your “summary of qualifications” at the top of your functional style resume.

As for people who have movement on their resumes (ie. switching jobs every 1-2 years), functional resumes can be a good way to cover 10 years of experience where you might have had 7-10 jobs. If you are someone who has a lot of movement on your resume, the best thing you can do is try to get a good position and stay there for at least 4-7 years to get some stability on your resume.

In general, unless you are a recent college graduate or changing professions, I strongly recommend using a reverse chronological style resume. You can find numerous resume templates online or you can use “resume wizard” in word to find the template that works best for you.

Happy resume writing!

Where do I find a good sample resume?

Why reinvent the wheel when there are 1000’s of resume templates to choose from. One of my favorite suggestions for creating a new resume is using “Resume Wizard” in Microsoft Word. It is very easy to use. Just follow the instructions below and you will have automatic access to 100’s of FREE resume templates for a variety of professions.

Using the wizard

  1. On the File menu, click New.
  2. In the New Document task pane
    (task pane: A window within an Office program that provides commonly
    used commands. Its location and small size allow you to use these
    commands while still working on your files.)
    , under Templates, click On my computer.
  3. Click the Other Documents tab.
  4. Double-click Resume Wizard.

If you do not see this wizard (wizard: A feature that asks questions and then creates an item, such as a form or Web page, according to your answers.) in the Templates dialog box, you might need to install it.

  1. Follow the steps in the wizard.

*You can find this information at

Once you have the template, fill in the blanks and style it to make it your own. Additionally, I suggest adding your Linkedin URL if you have one. It is important to have your resume proofread by at least 1 or 2 other people. You can pay someone hundreds or even thousands of dollars to revise it for you, but I highly encourage you to give it a try on your own first that way it truly expresses who you are to an employer and saves you money!