Which resume format is best for getting interviews?


Many people find that creating resumes is one of the most stressful aspects of job hunting because it seems to be a never-ending process. There are so many formats available—formal, informal, functional, combination, paper, electronic, and so on—that it's easy to become overwhelmed, especially when it's necessary to keep tweaking the document for each new job posting.

For those struggling to prepare a resume, a good place to start is to look at resume examples online or with a downloadable resume template. From there, you can begin to customize your resume with your own information in the format which you believe the employer is looking for.

Choosing a Resume Format

There are numerous resume formats available, most of which will be considered acceptable to employers. As a general guideline, a resume should be clean and organized, with formatting used to enhance the structure of the page rather than to dress it up. Acceptable formats in a resume generally include:

  • Bolding or italicizing (both in moderation)
  • Bullet points
  • A header with your name and contact information

Topics you'll want to cover in your resume include your objective in applying for the position, a list of your skills, your education, employment history and any relevant skills or business training, and, if requested, a list of references. If you believe it relevant, you can also include accomplishments and personal interests on your resume.

The Resume Cover Letter

The cover letter is an important aspect of the resume that many people overlook. A cover letter is an opportunity to be a bit more personable and to further customize your resume to a particular job posting. Cover letters are like sales pitches on why you should get the job in question, so it's important that they be crafted with care. Common cover letter guidelines include:

  • Keep it brief. Two to three short paragraphs is generally enough.
  • Don't repeat your resume. Your cover letter doesn't need to detail your entire work history (that's what the resume is for); it should simply highlight a few key points that show you are a good fit for the position.
  • Use a personal greeting. If you don't know the name of the person who will be looking at your resume, a "Dear Sir or Madam" or something along those lines is suitable.
  • Spell check. Make sure your grammar and spelling are clean in your cover letter. It is the first demonstration of your written communication skills that your prospective employer will have.
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