Resume Tips, Part 3: Resume structure

Resumes: In many contexts, a résumé is short (usually one or two pages), and therefore contains only experience directly relevant to a particular position. Many résumés use precise keywords that the potential new employers are looking for, are self-aggrandizing, and contain many action words.

Traditionally, résumés have rarely been more than two pages, as potential employers typically did not devote much time to reading résumé details for each applicant. However, employers are changing their views regarding acceptable résumé length. Since increasing numbers of job seekers and employers are using Internet-based job search engines to find and fill employment positions, longer résumés are needed for applicants to differentiate and distinguish themselves. Since the late 1990s, employers have been more accepting of résumés that are longer than two pages.

Curriculum vitae: As with résumés, CVs are subject to recruiting fads. For example,
  • In German-speaking countries a picture was a mandatory adjunct to the CV for a long time.
  • In the huge Indian job market, photos and good looks are strongly preferred in the service industry (hotels, aviation, etc.) and in sales-marketing, front office and customer service jobs.
  • Including a photograph of the applicant is strongly discouraged in the U.S. as it would suggest that an employer would discriminate on the basis of a person's appearance — age, race, sex, attractiveness, or the like. The theatre and modeling industries are exceptions, where it is expected that résumés will include photographs.
  • When listing non-academic employment in the U.S., the newest entries generally come first (reverse chronological).
  • The use of an "objective statement" at the top of the document (such as "Looking for an entry-level position in stores") was strongly encouraged in the U.S. during the mid-1990s but fell out of favor by the late-1990s. However, with the avalanche of résumés distributed via the Internet since the late 1990s, an "objective" and/or "skills summary" statement has become more common to help recruiters quickly determine the applicant's suitability. It is not prevalent elsewhere.
  • A profiling statement (or thumbnail description) was a protocol developed by placement agencies in the late 1980s. Many candidates now open their CV with such a statement. This can be a short paragraph or a handful of bullet points delineating the candidate's most desirable skills and experiences.
  • Listing of computer skills (such as proficiency with word processing software) was a strong differentiator during the 1980s but was considered passé for most professional positions by the 1990s.
  • In the 1980s and early 1990s in the U.S., the trend was to not allow a resume to exceed one page in length. In the late 1990s, this restriction fell out of vogue, with two- or even three-page resumes becoming common.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

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