Step Two: Organizing your information
There are two common styles of résumés: the chronological résumé and the functional résumé. The chronological style is most common. Both also include your personal information.
All résumés include your name, address and contact information. Place this information at the top of the page. You may want to center it with your name in large font.
Here is an example of contact information:
Harry P. Johnson
1100 W. Anywhere Street ▪ Hamlet, Large State 00090 ▪ (555) 644-4545 ▪ firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure your contact information is professional and usable. Don’t give an address you don’t use or an unprofessional-sounding email address. Avoid putting something funny on the voicemail message for the phone number you provide. And, be aware that many employers will check out your Facebook page and online information, so make sure your public profile makes the right impression.
If you include an objective statement, it should be located directly underneath your contact information. The objective should match the position you are applying for. You may need a new objective each time you apply for a job. You may even want to put the name of the company in your objective, but make sure you change it before you send the résumé to anyone else!
Here are several sample objective statements:
Objective: To obtain a position as a manager of a retail clothing store.
Objective: Human resources position that challenges me and provides opportunity to help the organization operate smoothly.
Objective: To use my creativity, teamwork skills and software expertise to create eye-catching advertisements as a graphic designer at XYZ Ad Agency, Inc.
The Chronological Style
The chronological résumé organizes your experience around the jobs you have held. This style is an excellent choice for people with a steady work history, or with previous jobs closely related to their career goals.
Title this section of your résumé “Job Experience” or just “Experience.”
Follow these steps to create a chronological résumé:
1. List each position you have held.
Start with the most recent and work backward. For each position, give the title of your job, the name of the organization you worked for, and the years you worked there. If you have held more than one position with the same employer, list each position separately.
2. Next, write a short job description for each position.
Focus on your responsibilities and accomplishments. Use action statements, not sentences. Use strong verbs to begin each statement.
You should write three to five statements for each position. Limit the length of the description to four lines for each job. If your description is longer, find a way to divide the information into categories.
Here is a sample job description for a chronological résumé:
Program Coordinator, Campus Activities Council, Ball State University, 1998-1999
- Initiated and organized Campus Run for Charity
- Promoted event with fliers, E-mail, newspaper ads
- 1,000 students participated
The Functional Style
The functional résumé organizes your experience around skills rather than job titles. It is a good style for those changing careers, people with inconsistent work histories, or people who have not held many jobs.
Title this section of your résumé “Skills & Experiences” or something that explains that you are listing skills.
1. Identify three or four skills required for your target job.
For each skill, identify three to five examples to demonstrate that ability. Use action statements, not sentences, when writing your list.
Here is a sample skill description for a functional résumé:
- Selected for the express lane while working as a cashier
- Directed customers to product locations
- Served restaurant patrons and responded quickly to requests
- Handled food substitutions and special requests efficiently
2. Arrange your skill headings in order of importance, beginning with the most important one.
When writing a résumé for a specific job, match the arrangement of your headings to the job's listed requirements. The closer the match between your skills and the employer's expectations, the more qualified you seem.
3. Finally, write a brief work history.
List only job titles, company names, and the years you worked there. If you have gaps in your work history, use your cover letter to explain them. You can also fill them in by adding volunteer work, community activities, or family responsibilities.
Here is a sample work history for a functional résumé:
Host, Good Food Restaurant, Hamlet, Large State, 2008-2010
Table Server, Good Food Restaurant, Hamlet, Large State, 2007
Cashier, Blue Skies Chain Store, Hamlet, Large State, 2005-2007
You may also want to list other accomplishments at the bottom of your résumé. The title of this section must tell the reader what you are describing, for example “Activities” or “Awards.”
Read about Step Three: Formatting your résumé.