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There are several steps in the methodology of creating a resume, but know that there is not one exact, correct way to go about it. It is a good idea to have a target position in mind when you start so that you can tailor your resume to your audience. It also helps to have a master list of your education, professional experiences, and accomplishments handy so that you can plug them into your final resume. I will expand on some ideas for formatting your resume first!


Select a Professional Resume Format: Functional, Chronological, or Combination

Resumes typically come in one of three formats: chronological, functional, or a combination. As the most common format, chronological resumes highlight work history and begin by listing your previous positions in reverse chronological order. Functional resumes focus on directly showcasing skills and experience relevant to the positions to which you’re applying. Combination formatting is, as you might have guessed, a blend of the two format types that starts by drawing attention to experience that shows skills and abilities relevant to the role at the top and moving into chronological experience. If you have previous recent experience in your field, a chronological resume is the most convenient and effective resume format. However, if you’re looking for a career change, a functional or combination can place your relevant information at the top and help an HR manager quickly connect your experience to the position’s responsibilities.


Arrange your Content based on the “F-Pattern”

Keeping the “F-Pattern” concept in mind when resume writing will help you see from an HR perspective how a potential employer will read your experience. The F-Pattern suggests that visually, content at the top and left side of the resume will most likely be read first (as suggested by the “F”), especially in a first-round review in which your resume may only get a few seconds of an employer’s time. Using this pattern as a guide when arranging your resume holistically as well as when formatting each individual section can help you make strategic choices about what to emphasize and where to place it.


Include Bullet Points to Help with Resume Readability & Impact

Using bullet points within your content as opposed to narrative writing can optimize your resume’s readability and make a positive first impression. This is true for your work history in particular. For example, using a bulleted list that shows strong action verbs to start each statement – Led, Supervised, Managed, Directed, Created, etc. – helps link your content to the skills you have developed. Thinking again of the F-Pattern, an HR manager will naturally read the first line and down the left side of your job content. Using bullet points here which lead with action verbs will quickly show a potential employer that you have proven skills and can create results. Bonus tip: choose your action verbs based on the language found in job descriptions of positions to which you’re applying for maximum impact.


Choose the Right Length: One or Two Pages?

One of the most common questions resume writing services receive: “How long should my resume be?” Your amount of relevant experience should determine the length of your resume. Note that more content does not necessarily equal more experience from a hiring perspective. At maximum, you should not need more than two pages to describe your relevant experience unless explicitly requested or submitting a CV for a highly academic role. If a recent graduate or new professional, a one-page resume should be sufficient in describing your most applicable experience. If you’re a seasoned candidate with multiple years’ experience or several previous positions held, a two-page resume may be most effective.


Improve Resume Flow with White Space

One pitfall to avoid when resume writing is including so much content it’s difficult to discern what information to focus on. White space is useful because it helps create a visual flow for the recruiter or HR manager and draws their eye to important information. Keeping your margins at half an inch minimum and using at least 8pt spacing in between content can help make sure your resume isn’t overwhelmingly packed with information.


Use Simplicity to your Advantage

With many potential resume styles, formats, and templates to choose from, it’s difficult to decide what the best way in which to present your resume is. If you’re in a creative field such as graphic design, your resume can be a sample of your work. If you’re not in a design-focused field, however, using a simple formatting and design on your resume helps reduce the chances of it stylistically clashing with an HR manager’s preferences or resume pre-screening software. Keeping your resume simple with few variations in color and font typeface, style, and size is a great strategy to make sure your resume is easy to read and professional. Above all, a top rated resume’s design will always match the style of the field and complement, never detract from, the content.


Published on Inc.com