What a Resume Really Is

Most job seekers think of a resume as a passive document listing their experience and education — and they're wrong! A resume is a document which only purpose is to sell yourself on paper to the employer so that you can get an interview, a promotion and/or a raise. So if you don't start writing your resume from that angle, chances are your resume will never stand out and you will never get interviews or promotions.

Resume Format

There are 3 resume formats: chronological, functional and a combination of the 2.

Chronological format

Chronological resumes are your standard resumes. They start with your contact information and your objective followed by your experience, education and skills. They focus on your experience and everything is presented in chronological order. Chronological resumes are most suitable for entry-level positions and "traditional" industries.

Functional format

Functional resumes are result-oriented, focusing on your skills and what you have accomplished throughout your career. They start with your contact information and your objective but then list your skills and accomplishments before the usual experience and education paragraphs (since they are less important for that format of resume, they can be streamlined, featuring only what's relevant to the job you're applying to, rather than listing everything). In some cases (for example sales resumes), accomplishments can even represented with graphs placed right at the beginning of your resume. Functional resumes are most suitable for executive jobs, technical jobs, newer jobs and new industries as well as career changes.

Combination of Chronological and Functional formats

It is also possible to combine both chronological and functional formats by featuring a few accomplishments and skills before the chronological presentation of your experience and education or by placing them between each position you held. In that case, you should make sure that you are pretty concise and don't repeat anything. These resumes are most suitable for non "traditional" industries and jobs.

Resume Length

While most people think that resumes shouldn't be longer than one page, there is actually no rule about this. The only thing you should base your decision on, when writing a resume, is common sense. If you're writing an entry-level resume and are just out of college, one page should indeed be enough. However, if you're an executive or have 20 years of experience, you might have enough information to fill more than one page. What you should make sure is that your resume is concise as neither should it be too long because it might include useless information or too short because valid information might be missing.

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Clarity, Coherence and Confidence

Whatever type of resume you are writing, whatever job you are going after, there are three essential elements that you should apply: Clarity, Coherence, and Confidence.


When writing your resume, you need to make sure you are clear, starting with your objective, which should go straight to the point, without sounding too fake. Your experience and education should be concise, so that employers don't have to make guesses regarding your skills - because they get a lot of resumes, employers tend to just glance at resumes rather than reading them, so you it is imperative that they easily see what they're looking for otherwise you won't make it to the interview.


When applying to a position opening, you should make sure your resume is coherent and truthful. For example, if you're applying for a managerial position, the HR person won't care if you worked as a bag boy at your local supermarket when you were 16. You should only focus on experience and education that are relevant to the jobs you're applying to and shouldn't be afraid to leave out any experience, education or additional skill that won't bring value to your future job.


Because employers look for candidates that will get the job done, it is imperative to use words and expressions that showcase your confidence in your resume (and cover letter). While confidence is good, you should also avoid falling in the trap of arrogance, as it will be a turn off. Be positive without overdoing it; for example say that you are confident your experience and education will be an asset to the company rather than claiming that you are the best.

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Resume Content

The Objective

Preparing a resume objective is trickier than you think. People tend to write clichéd and banal sentences that mostly state that they want to be challenged and grow within the company. Sound familiar? You bet! Working in the resume industry, I can tell you that most objectives are boring and useless. And if you bore employers right from the beginning, chances are they won't read your resume in details.

There are 2 common mistakes inherent to most resume objectives: First, they are generic instead of being customized to each company. Second, they focus on what the candidate wants, rather than what the candidate can bring to the organization. The Solution? Write a punchy objective that focuses on the results you will bring to that particular company and you are sure to catch the attention of the employer.

The Achievements and Skills (Functional Format)

Achievements and skills are usually presented in bulleted lists and you can even put the skills in a table for a higher impact. As stated earlier, depending on your industry - mostly technical and sales - you can even include a graph (make sure it's acceptable in your industry first). In terms of content, only focus on achievements and skills that are result-oriented and relevant to the jobs you're applying to. For example if you're in sales or some executive, talk about the exact amount of $ you brought in and the increase it represented. If you're a project manager, talk about the projects you brought to completion. If you're a programmer, talk about the sites or codes you've created.

The Experience

Start with the latest jobs and go backward. Give the name of the company as well as the position you held. Emphasize the description of the most recent or relevant jobs and include achievements if you writing in a chronological format.

The Education

Starts with your highest degrees or certificates, which mostly matter, and go backward. If you're at a mid or executive level, there is no need to put where you went to high school.

Skills and Others

That's where you put your computer and language skills as well as any award, certification, training, military, volunteer work you might have that are relevant to the jobs you're applying to. As for personal interests, you can put them if they show you are a team player or very energetic (sports). But you should refrain than listing anything that's political or doesn't sound very professional/ethical.

Resume Writing Tips

Because employers and recruiters use resume-scanning software to select the resumes they will actually read, make sure to include words that are listed in the announcement, without sounding phony or overstuffing them. Also use some action words and write with an active voice (rather than passive) to showcase how efficient you are.

Finally, even though most resumes are now submitted online, always have a few copies of your resume printed on nice paper. For some reason, employers always misplace resumes or print them badly, so if you bring them a nice resume on the day of the interview it will make a good first impression and make you stand out from the pile.

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