General Question

ubersiren's avatar

What's the best resume format?

Asked by ubersiren (15208points) May 1st, 2009

My husband has helped me with resumes before. I would follow a template I found online or something, but he’d go changing like half of it… I mean he’s definitely a pro- he knows what’s best, but I don’t get what he changes and why he does it.

Is there an online format (or if you have a sample handy) that you think is the perfect resume template? Any advice is much appreciated.

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20 Answers

Amoebic's avatar

What is the field you’re applying in? What is the job? Different positions have different standards for the “perfect” resume format. A microbiologist is going to want a very different resume than an elementary school teacher or a stuntman.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Also, different stages of a career need different formats. Career changers need a different resume than a new worker or a person who wants a higher position in the same industry.

wundayatta's avatar

I think @aprilsimnel and @Amoebic both make on-target points. Insofar as there is a general rule—I like resumes that make me see what you have done. I don’t so much care who you did it for. I’m looking for skills that meet the demands of the job, and I’m looking for indications that you are a proactive worker—taking responsibility for solving problems instead of waiting to be told what to do.

However, I’m just one kind of employer, and there are many others, and other employers may be looking for other things. The best thing to do is to research the employer, figure out what they like in an employee, and to build your resume to best show them your skills and knowledge in a way that meets their needs.

I think experience should come first, then education, then other activities, then publications. I don’t really give a shit about format, just so long as you make it as easy as possible for me to find what I’m looking for. No fancy gimmicks or color (unless it’s appropriate for the job). No weird fonts. Just the most important things in bold, and the detail in regular type. The section headings in larger font and bold. One or two fonts are fine, but no more (again, unless appropriate for the job).

As an employer I want to see what you are about as fast as possible. I don’t want to have to search through your resume for what I’m looking for. I want you to point me to it. If you can’t do that, I know you aren’t serious and haven’t researched the job. Tell me a story. The story of your career, that shows how you learned the skills to do this job. Details are important, but so is brevity. It’s tricky to get the right balance, but again, if you have done your research and know the employer well, you’ll have a better chance.

SuperMouse's avatar

It depends on the job and your skills more than anything else. If you have the skills in a certain area but not the education you need a skills based resume. If you have the education but not much experience you need an education based resume. During any job hunt I have several resumes that I send out depending on the position. I make sure that the resume I send focuses very clearly on what is required for each position I am applying for. I think people make a mistake in thinking that one resume fits all, even if you are applying for similar jobs.

ubersiren's avatar

Yeah… I know what your saying. My “field” is sort of complicated, too. I’m applying for a receptionist job at a wellness center/ spa, but it’s in hopes of being hired as a massage therapist once I get my license. So, I definitely want to add my vocational education, but I want to highlight my experience in customer service since I think that’s more relevant to the receptionist position. I worked in hotel for 4 years and was a sales manager for some of that time. I also have 4 years of pharmacy tech work before that that I may include… I like @SuperMouse‘s idea of doing maybe 2 different resumes and including different key points on different resumes.

ubersiren's avatar

Also thanks to @daloon for the insider perspective.

Everyone has helped tremendously… This is stuff that I just didn’t remember from 10 years ago when I was first handing out resumes.

Dorkgirl's avatar

@daloon is right on. I’m an HR manager and see many (many) resumes. Some tell me too much. Some not enough. A title does not tell me what you actually did. I like to see job duties, tasks and/or accomplishments that are similar to the job you are applying for. I also really like to see how long you were at each job. I prefer that candidates use a month/year format (e.g. July 2007 to September 2008). That way I can see you spent a year+ at your last job. I don’t like 2008 as the term of service. Does that mean January to February 2008? Does that mean all of 2008? I think a candidate is hedging if they don’t give a month & year (that’s just me though).
I also like it when candidates highlight in their cover letter specific skills or experiences that they think are applicable to the position or make them stand out from others. If you don’t have a specific skill set, say so but try to equate “greeting clients” with your experience in sales or customer service. It shows you understand how to deal with people, be polite, etc.
If you don’t have any of the skills required, I’d prefer that you not apply.
To back that up—we work with people in other countries and often need specific language skills. For an administrative position I will get applicants with the language skills who have no applicable office experience (they’ve been in construction or working with the elderly or have done sales, but no direct work experience). So be sure you have some sort of applicable experience for the position you are applying for.
And lastly, please, please, please spell and grammar check your resume and cover letter. If you say you are detail oriented and misspell it I won’t believe you.

wundayatta's avatar

@Dorkgirl: I agree with you about the importance of the cover letter. It should be a little more specific about your experience that is related to the job.

I do hope that people will stay away from stupid cliches. I hate:

Detail oriented



willing to learn

there are more, I’m sure, but that’s what comes to mind now.

You may be all these things, but show me, don’t tell me. Same advice as an author gets. Make it real for me. Anyone can say shit. How many walk the walk, though?

Dorkgirl's avatar

One other pet peeve—I like it if you demonstrate to me that you read the job description/posting, but please don’t cut and paste it into your resume or cover letter. As least take the time to paraphrase what we are looking for.

ubersiren's avatar

Oh, I’m all sorts of against cliches.

Strauss's avatar

@daloon makes several good points, and I have revised my own resume using his advice from other threads thanx, @daloon.

Also, as has been stated by @Amoebic , different formats fit different fields. For example, my resume for my day job (tech support) looks a lot different than my resume for a musical or acting position.

The day job resume is more formal, wusually written in the first person (I, me) or implied first person, with a Summary (who I am and what I can offer the company), Objective (what I’m looking for), followed by a list of KSA’s and then employment history.

The performance resume is more like a press kit, with a head shot, list of parts played (musical as well as theatrical).

aspiringresumes's avatar

As a professional resume writer I find that people get too caught up in the format or template. The short answer to your question is that there is no magical online template as this would create a one size fits all resume that is destined to fail. The key to writing a successful resume is matching your skills to the requirements sought in the position that you are applying for.

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