Updating your resume to get the job you want

Resumes are not “one size fits all”


In order to land the job you really want, it’s a good idea – and in some cases a requirement – to have an up-to-date resume. That resume should outlines your education, past job experience, skills, and qualifications that showcase you as the best candidate for the job, presented in the best format for the position.

Even in circumstances where employers require prospects to apply using an online process, there may be a place to upload a digital copy of your resume. If not, the process of preparing the resume will still help you complete that online application by organizing your thoughts and information for easy access.

Every resume should contain a few basics. Your name, address, telephone number, and email address are a must so that prospective employers can easily contact you if they are interested in scheduling an interview. Be sure to include your name on each page of the resume in case the pages become separated.

Beyond that, resumes should include information about your education, your previous work experience, any special skills you have, and significant accomplishments. But the kind of job you’re applying for helps dictate how that information should be presented on your resume and how much of that information should be included.

Your resume should highlight your individual strengths and achievements. And it should be presented so that those strengths and qualifications are at the forefront.

The chronological resume
For entry-level employees seeking an entry-level job, a simple list of previous experience (including volunteer experience if you don’t have a lot of paid job experience), as well as education completed, can be the best approach. If an employee is looking for a first job, highlighting education or degrees attained can be a good way to demonstrate both knowledge and commitment to learning, both of which can be applied in a new job setting.

A simple one-page chronological resume may be most appropriate, listing previous employers with dates of employment, including the address and phone number of the employer, and indicating the job responsibilities and duties performed. Then list education completed, all in chronological order, with most recent first.

The functional resume
When seeking a mid-level or high-level position, a functional resume is more effective than one simply listing information in chronological order. A functional resume focuses on the applicant’s skills, experience, and accomplishments, and highlights those achievements that are most relevant to the position for which the applicant is applying. It should indicate the employer or circumstance where that experience was successfully achieved. This can be done using bulleted lists or paragraphs with appropriate headings. Most applicants seeking mid-level or high-level positions have much more previous work and life experience. It may not fit on one or two pages. It is best to consolidate it down and select only the most important, relevant, and beneficial information to include.

On a functional resume, it isn’t necessary to list every single previous job or complete educational background. Rather, the applicant should focus the resume on content that demonstrates why the applicant has the skills, experience, and aptitude that makes him or her the best applicant and best aligns with the desired position.

The combination resume
In some cases, it can be helpful to combine elements of a chronological resume and a functional resume. On a combination resume, applicants should list skills and accomplishments first and then relevant work history and contact information.

Make a list of references and contact information, but only include them on the actual resume if there is space. If not, type “References available upon request” at the bottom of the resume and plan to provide them if requested, or include them as a separate, last page.

Keep it brief and to the point
Regardless of the type of resume or how it is arranged on the page, it is best to consolidate the most important and relevant information into one or two pages and no more than that. Use bullet points to shorten lengthy content and focus on key words, key points, and accomplishments. Eliminate information that isn’t pertinent to the job you’re applying for now. Highlight your strengths, whether that be a college degree in a relevant field, 10 years of experience in a similar position, or an incredible passion and aptitude for the job you’re seeking. Use your resume to sell yourself by demonstrating why you are the best person for the job.

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