How long should it be? What format should I use? Job seekers always have questions like this about their resumes, and not knowing the answer might cost you a great position. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions.
1. How long should I make my resume? The ideal length of a resume is an endless debate. Essentially, the longer your work history, the longer your resume. If it's more than two pages, you risk losing the readers' interest. You don't want them to stop reading before seeing the final pages' important details, which might give you a competitive advantage. Try to stick within the two-page guideline.
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If you're a recent grad and don’t have a lot of experience, one page is plenty. If you have several years experience and need more than a page, then two should work. Never add fluffy copy to your resume just to make it look longer. Many hiring managers only skim the material you send them, and they can quickly pick out the relevant areas. If your resume is filled with junk, they'll toss it.
2. Which type of resume should I use? You can choose from three types, and the one to use depends on the situation.
Chronological: This style shows your work history, from most recent job to oldest. It's a good option if you have a long work history that you want to show off. It's also the most common resume style used and won't catch the hiring manager by surprise. However, if you're just starting out in the work world and don't want to highlight your irrelevant job experience, avoid this type.
Functional: Functional resumes focus on your skills and experience. They're good if you have gaps in your work history (you started a family, went back to school, etc.) or if you are switching careers. However, if you don't have a lot of skills in the field you want to work in, this might not be your best option.
Hybrid: This resume combines chronological and functional features. It's a good style to use for transitioning to a different job industry. A hybrid resume works for most situations.
3. What should I include? The contents of any resume are about the same, although they might be ordered differently, depending on the style you use. Always include:
- A summary of your skills
- Type of job for which you are looking
- Work history
- Education and training
You also have optional sections, which include skills, activities and interests, that you can add. These are good if you don't have work experience in a field.
4. What if I do not have work experience? It's your job to find experiences that will make up for your lack of skills. If you have volunteer experience or have held internships, you can include these.
Need to become more knowledgeable in a field? Start a blog on your industry of interest, and list that as an activity on your resume. Joining professional organizations in your area and participating in them will also give you relevant activities to list, plus it gives you access to other industry professionals.
Focus on the skills that you have acquired through past jobs, even if they were in a different field. For example, if you want to work in marketing, but have only worked as an office administrator, focus on any skills that might pertain to your ideal position, such as writing or using social media.
5. Should I attach the resume in an email or paste it? Your method of sending a resume via email may depend on the hiring manager’s preference. Sometimes it's listed in the job description.
Attachments look better in Word or in a PDF format. If you are using Word, make sure you turned off the track changes options and save the document without comments from collaborators. You can also paste it into the body of the email. This continues to be the preference for some employers, as some company email filters consider attachments spam.
You can also link to an online version of your resume. Use a site like About.me to host your resume on a site where employers can easily access it. If you are sending an online version, then also send an attached or pasted copy. Otherwise, you risk the employer not clicking to view your resume. Make it as easy as possible for the employer to read, save, and pass along your details.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.