A resume is a marketing document that communicates a purpose and represents your best self. It is a summary of your skills, accomplishments, experience and education. A good resume shows the scope and level of your employment responsibilities, the results you have achieved, and the relevancy of your experience. It should focus on your accomplishments and what you can bring to the organization.
Typical resume formats are chronological, functional or a combination. You may need two or three different resumes depending on the types of jobs in which you’re interested.
In a chronological resume, experience is presented in reverse date order, that is, your most recent job experience is offered first. This format highlights your employment history and is recommended if you want to apply for a specific job. Defense contractors often prefer a chronological resume.
A functional resume works best for those individuals who want to highlight transferable skills and experiences in specific areas and for those who may or may not have the work history.
A functional resume can be very effective for individuals re-entering the workplace after a work gap or for individuals who have or will be changing careers. A functional resume is also more effective for individuals who have remained in the same or similar positions for a long period of time.
A combination resume is best to use when you wish to combine the useful advantages of a functional resume with the traditional look of a chronological resume. Job seekers wishing to promote specific skills over their work experience or who wish to emphasize their transferable skills in order to change industries should consider this type of resume.
More and more, companies are scanning, rather than reading resumes, especially if they receive a great number of them. The basic principles are to research a company and use "buzzwords" that target a resume to a particular employer. The employer may use your resume as the basis for asking detailed questions during the interview.
A cover letter gives you a chance to highlight skills applicable to the job or to add information not included in your resume.
Volunteer work can be placed on your resume if it is relevant to the job or offers transferable skills. Visit Blue Star Families for effective resume bullets that highlight the types of volunteer experience associated with military families (FRG, Ombudsman, USO, CYS and more).
Updated November 4, 2020