When it comes to creating a resume, many job seekers rely on templates in their word-processing software, ones they find online, or reusing someone else's resume format they think looks nice. While it's certainly helpful to get ideas from other resumes you see, it's generally a bad idea to use a "standard" template or design.
No two careers are exactly alike, and therefore each resume should reflect those differences as well. When it comes to resumes… there's no such thing as "One size fits all"!
Different circumstances call for different styles…
- Someone that has worked at one company for the past 20 years should have a very different style and format than someone that's changed jobs every few years.
- Someone that is looking for a new position in the same field and industry as their last role should have a very different resume than someone that's changing careers.
- Someone that's had a steady growth and progression in their career should use a different format than someone that's been in the same job for the last several years.
- Someone that is looking for a position in Graphic Design or Advertising should have a different style than someone seeing a position in Accounting, Engineering, or Sales.
- Someone seeking strategic or leadership roles should have a different style than someone seeking staff level positions.
Everyone has something unique in their career history and should figure out a format, structure, and wording that presents their skills, experience, strengths and accomplishments in the best light.
So how do you do that?
First… Know yourself! In order to present yourself as well as you can, you first have to know what makes you unique and what is most marketable. Before you can articulate your greatest strengths and accomplishments well in a resume, you have to clearly understand what they are. Take tests, ask others, and do some self-assessment to best understand what you have to offer then you can begin creating the document to show it. You can get additional help by reading "Know Yourself!"
Highlight your most marketable assets. It's imperative that you emphasize the things that make you stand out from the crowd. Some that might have 15 years of work experience may generally put their Education section toward the end of their resume. However, if your education is exceptional compared to your competition… perhaps you have a Harvard MBA, or graduated from some other elite Ivy League school, it may make sense to put that near the top. Similarly, If you have had impressive titles at relatively unknown companies, you may want to bold-face your title. However, if you had average titles from highly respected companies, it may be better to bold-face the company name instead of your title.
Functional or Chronological? Given your individual circumstances, decide whether a more functionally oriented resume, or straight chronological resume makes the most sense for you. If you are seeking a career change, or have had gaps in your employment, a functional resume may be more expedient. However, be aware that they are often looked at as more suspect, and it should never exclude your chronological work history entirely. You can get more help and insight by reading "Functional or Dysfunctional?"
One page, or Five? While there are a variety opinions out there about the appropriate length for a resume, there are some general principles that most everyone would agree with… An entry-level candidate should certainly not have a 3 or more page resume. They haven't had enough experience to justify that length and a one page resume is best in the vast majority of their cases. Someone senior in their career can certainly justify having more than one page. You can get further help by reading "Too Long, or Too Short?"
In addition to the factors listed here, there are many other considerations and possibilities as well. Using Google, you can search for other sample resumes in your field. Looking at many examples can give you ideas of what might be good to incorporate into yours and what would not. Don't use someone else's template or format, however, use concepts to apply to your unique experience and circumstances to present yourself most effectively. Scrap the templates and create a tailored document for you!