Resume format is one of the most important factors for job applicants to consider, but it often goes overlooked. Job hunters may labor over the content of their resume, but it can all be for naught if a potential employer ignores their resume because it is in a format that is difficult or impossible to read or open. 99% of employers, according to surveys, want resumes submitted in a Microsoft Word (also known as a .doc) or PDF file. But that is not the only thing to consider when choosing a resume format.
File types and titles
For example, PDF files and some types of Microsoft Word documents are not compatible with all applicant tracking systems. If a prospective employer uses an applicant tracking system that cannot read your resume, your application is likely to be ignored. Different versions of Microsoft Word produce different types of files. Versions dated 2007 or later produce .docx files by default, rather than .doc files, and these .docx files cannot be read by all applicant tracking systems. So when choosing the format for resume, be sure to save using the .doc format. To do this, click “File,” then “Save As,” and after typing in your chosen file name, select “Format” and choose “Word 2004-2007 (.doc).” Be sure your file name contains your name, rather than just choosing the file name “Resume” (for example, use JohnSmithResume.doc).
Sometimes an employer may provide resume formatting specifications in the job listing. Be sure to carefully follow all instructions given. Employers may weed out applicants who do not follow the instructions properly.
The purpose of your resume is to make it easy for the potential employer to view your qualifications. They should be able to gain an understanding of your background and accomplishments, and what you can do for their company. To make this possible, be sure you format resume with a clear title and choose the right file type.
In order to make sure that your resume will catch a potential employer’s attention, it should match well with the job description. There are many tools available today to help you with the best resume format in 2014. Resume keyword optimization is a strategy that can tell you how your resume stacks up. Jobscan.co is an online resume optimization tool that makes this fast and easy. Visit the site and paste both your resume and the description of the job in which you’re interested into the appropriate boxes. Jobscan will analyze the data you entered to tell you what keywords your resume should highlight. You also have the option to make your resume visible to recruiters. By highlighting the most relevant keywords for the job, you can make your skills stand out.
Another way to stand out is to tailor your resume format to your job search. Chronological resumes are the most common. For this type of resume, relevant experience is simply organized according to time. This straightforward format can be used in any industry, and gives a good overview of accomplishments. But this is not the best choice for everyone; those with gaps in their work history, or who are looking to change career fields, might find that another format for resume that is better for them.
Targeted resumes tie an applicant’s background and achievements directly into those required for a particular job. The goal is to make it instantly apparent to the recruiter or hiring manager that the applicant matches what they are looking for. “You have to adapt your resume to what a company is looking for to fill a position,” says Heather Wieshlow, chief career strategist and owner of Turning Point Coaching and Consulting.
Functional resumes highlight skills rather than employment history. These are best for those with little work experience, because they focus on a job seeker’s abilities. However, this resume format is not as common, and is not recommended for everyone. Functional resumes can draw negative attention from an employer. Nancy H. Segal, owner of Solutions for the Workplace, LLC, a career coaching and HR consulting firm, says this type of resume format “can be too clever for their own good” and cause employers to wonder what an applicant has chosen to omit. But if you have little paid experience, or are looking to change fields, a resume that focuses on core competencies could be right for you.
Combination resumes blend chronological and functional resume styles in order to feature strengths and play down weaknesses. “Combination resumes tell the story of who you are as a professional by showcasing your skill sets and experience,” says Gala Jackson, owner and senior consultant at InterviewSnob, a career consulting boutique. “They tell excellent stories for mid-level, senior-level managers and C-suite applicants.” When creating a combination resume, edit it carefully to keep it from getting too long.
Non-traditional resumes include visual, story, and interactive types. Using features such as photos, videos, graphics and narratives, job seekers can craft compelling stories to highlight their skills and abilities and stand out from the field. However, these can be difficult to pull off, and are best suited to creative fields. Even when used in the right setting, these very fact that this resume format is different can “make a reviewer work too hard to find information,” Segal says. And, of course, many applicant tracking systems may not be able to handle non-traditional resumes.
Creating an ideal resume means thinking carefully about what information to include, and how it is best conveyed. By considering factors such as your experience and desired field, the stated application process, and the skills needed for your desired job, you can be sure you will choose the right resume format for your job search.
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