The Right Formatting and Placement on the Resume is Key.

Welcome to Part 3 of Job Seeker Confidence. We’re talking about 5 common resume mistakes. Last week, I taught you how to include accomplishments in your resume, how to quantify those accomplishments, and how to make them into powerful statements by using action verbs.

Now, we’ll talk about the second mistake that many people make on their resume: not bothering with proper formatting and placement of information on the resume. The right formatting and the right placement of your content is crucial, so let’s discuss this a bit more.

In fact, the top 1/3 of the first page is extremely important. Remember, the reader spends only 7-10 seconds looking at your resume at first glance – make those seconds count! Use this space to capture the recruiter’s or the hiring manager’s attention, keep them engaged, keyword-optimize your document, and visually set yourself apart from the competition.

To start the page, the header should have your name, city and state, one phone number, one email address, and your LinkedIn URL. The email address and the LinkedIn URL can be live links, so all a reader has to do is click on them in order to contact you.

Next should come a headline or a branding statement, sometimes both. This highlights your unique value proposition; the one thing that you do better than anything else, and then prominently showcases that. This immediately gives the reader a clear understanding of who you are and what you can accomplish.

After the headline comes the summary statement. Notice that I didn’t use the word “objective” here. An objective statement used to be the norm on resumes; it told the reader what you want and what your goals are. Instead, a strong summary statement is your first opportunity to catch the reader’s attention and sell them on why you are the answer to the company’s needs. Take up a maximum of 4 to 5 lines to spell out the talent, experience, or some other key skills that set you apart from the competition.

As we move further down the document, in most cases the work history section will follow a reverse chronological format. It’s usually enough to just show years of employment, without including the months. And make sure you show a clear career progression; if you were promoted at some point, be sure to include that.

When deciding on the placement of your education section, you need to ask yourself: is it my education that is more marketable, or is it my work experience? In general, if you have been working for 2 or more years, your education section will follow your experience section.

In conclusion, I want to briefly elaborate on the differences between a chronological and a functional resume:

  • A chronological resume lists your work history in reverse chronological order, with your current or most recent job first. This format focuses on your most recent experience, makes it easy to see what jobs you had and when you had them, and shows your specific skills and accomplishments from each job.
  • A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience and does not associate your skills with any particular job. Functional resumes are best for those with a wide variety of work experience or those with a gap in employment.

Even if you have had a variety of jobs, or if you have had periods of unemployment, in a great majority of cases, it is best to stay away from a functional resume format. Recruiters and hiring managers get confused by this ambiguous format that does not associate your experience with any specific job, and Applicant Tracking Systems often reject functional resumes. It is best to write the resume in reverse chronological format, with the current or most recent position listed first.

This wraps up Part 3 of Job Seeker Confidence. I hope you’re now thinking about the placement of information on your resume, and perhaps it’s time to make some changes or updates to your document. If I can help with your resume document, or with your company’s outplacement needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, or for clarification of anything I’ve presented to you. And be sure to tune in next week, when we’ll dive into another common resume mistake.

If we’re not yet connected on LinkedIn, be sure to reach out! I’d love to make new connections. And I look forward to hearing from you – what topics regarding your job search do you want to learn more about?

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