Your Resume - Format

Resume Format

Resume FormatIn the past, one well-formatted print resume was all you'd ever need for your employment search. Not so, today. The process of applying for a job is changing because of the Internet and resume scanning technology that is being adopted by more employers. Now you may want to have two core resumes: one for the human eye, the other for computers.

Print Format

Despite the fact that a number of employers have moved to electronic database searches, there is still a place in your employment search toolbox for a traditional well-formatted print version of your resume.

Having assembled all of your material, and thereafter writing, editing, and revising your resume ad infinitum, you'll need to display your work in the most attractive, professional manner possible. Yes, visual presentation does matter. In order to sell yourself as a professional, you must "look" like a professional. Your resume is your surrogate: the first opportunity a prospective employer has to "meet" you, and get a feel for who you are. You don't want it to be your only meeting...

With the advent of word processing, desktop publishing and laser printers, there is no excuse for a non-professional presentation. Here are a few helpful hints:

 Use bold and italics to highlight specific items on your resume.

 Right margin justify the text for a "cleaner" appearance.

 Use high quality paper (24 lb., 25% cotton). White and Ivory are the only colors you should choose.

 Use matching stationery and envelopes for your cover letters.

 Proofread and double proofread. Don't rely on your word-processor's spell-check feature. Errors are not only            unacceptable - they're fatal.

 Leave lots of white space. Readability is as important as content.

 If no one reads the resume, it doesn't matter what you've said or how well you've said it.

 Stay away from long paragraphs of more than 6-7 sentences. Break paragraphs with blank lines in between            and/or use bullets to enhance reading ease.

The one versus two page dilemma is a continual point of concern. However, today's competitive market demands that you make every attempt to aggressively "sell" your qualifications. If two pages are required, so be it. You will find that the response to your job search campaign will be directly dependent upon how well you've marketed your qualifications and achievements; not on number of pages.

Scannable Format

An electronically scannable resume is specifically designed to be entered into a computerized database using an optical scanner. The scanner "reads" the resume and stores it in text form, as a computer file.

Although the general content of both print and scannable resumes may be similar, a resume which is read and selected by a computer does not have the benefit of having a human's subjective input and interpretation. Instead, the computer searches for specific keywords or phrases when selecting or "screening" for qualified candidates. Conventional resumes often use action verbs and descriptive terms, along with distinctive type fonts and sophisticated layouts. But electronic resumes are best when language is clear, concise and in a format that highlights key points simply.

Scannable Resume Guidelines:

To increase the chances of your resume being electronically retrieved, the electronic resume should be written especially for the computer. Here's how:

Type Font: Avoid use of ornate or decorative typefaces, and small type sizes, (11-12 point-size is ideal). Do not underline or use italic fonts as they can "confuse" the readability of the letters.

Paper: Use paper with little or no color (white or beige) and of average thickness. Do not staple multiple page resumes, but put your name on the top of each page and, if possible, send an unfolded resume.

Design: Keep it simple; the equipment is set to read "text," not "graphics". Avoid use of columns, boxes, fancy lines, symbols and pictures.

Format: Minimize use of bullets, hyphens or dashes. Format your resume neatly using clear, capitalized headings such as EXPERIENCE and EDUCATION, and include plenty of white space between sections. Place your name at the top with your address and other contact information below your name, all on separate lines. It is not necessary to include a "References: Available on Request" statement on the resume. College resumes should be one page, while professional-level resumes can be 2-4 pages.

Language: Use nouns more than verbs (e.g. say "discharge planner" instead of "planned for patient discharge and arranged community services" ). The computer will look for matches on key nouns from different functional areas. Minimize the use of abbreviations where possible.

Key Words: To increase your resume's chances of being electronically retrieved, use key words or short phrases to describe your qualifications and abilities. Bear in mind that the more matches a database search makes with your resume, the better. Also, use synonyms or variations of words in your descriptions and keep the words simple rather than obscure.

To become familiar with good key words to use, check newspaper recruitment ads, review job descriptions if available, and talk with professional recruiters and/or professional associations in your field.

Do Not Fax your resume (until the technology improves), as faxing will distort the readability of the letters and words.

ASCII Format

If you are sending your resume by e-mail or posting it at one of the many employment search sites, it is best to convert your resume to ASCII format by saving as text only. This allows a variety of recipients to read and scan it.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

 No line should be longer than 65 characters from left to right. Hit the return key at the end of each line so the
    scanner will know to move to the next line.

 Use courier 12 pt font.

 Use hyphens or asterisks as bullet points.

 Do not use tabs, underlines, italics, or other embellishments.

 For emphasis type your name at the top in capital letters.

 Capitalize the principal section headings, such as Summary, Experience, Education and the Names of            employers.

 Save this version as "text only".

To send a text resume as e-mail, open the text file, and copy and paste the contents into the body of your email message right below your brief introduction. When posting your resume on the Internet, open the text file, and copy and paste each of the sections into the corresponding fields on the webpage. Each site has different requirements, so visit each site and plan your form-filling strategy before you post.

Whenever you've sent an Internet version of your resume, it is recommended that you follow up by mailing your nicely formatted print version, along with a strong cover letter. This way the employer has both versions on file and it is accessible to human resource people as will as those that make hiring decisions and who may not be net-savvy. Companies that accept resumes by e-mail usually have an auto response which will acknowledge receipt of your resume. If you do not receive an acknowledgment, a brief e-mail request for confirmation is appropriate.

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