Traditional, business-standard resume formatting follows a time-tested set of organizational principles. This kind of resume usually extends no longer than two full pages, and it begins with the candidate’s name and contact information arranged in eye-catching way at the top of the page. The heading is followed by a brief summary of the candidate’s profile and target job, and the summary is followed by a subsection titled “education”. After describing his or her educational credentials, the candidate drafts a “work history” section, in which previous positions are listed chronologically, with the most recent at the top of the list. The resume ends with a final subsection for “special skills”.
But this is by no means a rigid format, and there are plenty of reasons why candidates may choose to vary from this well marked path. If you’re looking for work, here are some of the common alterations that might be better suited to your needs.
“Objective” instead of “Summary”
A “summary” emphasizes your most important credentials and the key aspects of your work history that employers may find valuable. But an “objective” focuses on the kind of job you’re looking for an the direction in which you’d like to take your career. Summaries document the past, while objectives focus on the future. The first may work well for experienced candidates, but the second may be the right choice for those with limited or no professional experience.
Relevance instead of chronology
While the standard work history section lists positons in chronological order, it’s also perfectly reasonable to list past positions by relevance instead. This may be useful for those who are currently working in non-relevant or stepping stone positions, paying the bills while they search for something better.
Ten pages instead of one or two
Most resumes stop after two pages. But if you just can’t find a way to tell your story in such a limited space, that’s okay. This often applies to academic positions that require long documents listing coursework in detail. These are usually referred to as curriculum vitae, or CVs. They accomplish the same goals and send the same message as a resume, but they require a little more breathing room.
Online instead of offline
Some candidates like to supplement their formal resumes with an online version, which can include supplemental material, graphs, photos, video footage, and links to completed work. If you choose this option, submit a formal resume as well. Just make sure that your contact information contains a URL that can lead employers to your online document.
For more on how to customize your resume to meet your specific job search needs, reach out to the experienced staffing team at PSU.