Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Format a Resume

As a service member, it can be challenging to create a resume in an easy-to-read format that best highlights your skill set. Often, civilian employers are most comfortable with two formats, either a chronological resume, or a skills based/combination resume. For the vast majority of transitioning veterans, a chronological resume is recommended. Regardless of the format you select, your resume should be professional and orderly in appearance.

Chronological Resume

You should typically use a chronological resume if you have less than 15 years total professional experience and your professional timeline is relatively easy to follow.

This format lists your professional experience in reverse chronological order, so a potential interviewer, military or non-military, can easily follow your professional timeline and very quickly get a good overall understanding of what you are qualified to do.

Keep the following in mind when creating a chronological resume:
  • You must effectively differentiate between your duties and responsibilities, and your achievements. Remember that there are thousands of people who have held a job similar to yours in terms of responsibility, but your achievements are what will set you apart. Be specific and quantify wherever possible.
  • Your duties and responsibilities should be listed directly under your job title and concisely describe your overall responsibilities in two to three lines.
  • Below your responsibilities paragraph, you should list 2-4 achievements for each job held.
  • GPA should only be listed if it is above 3.0.

Skills Based/Combination Resume

You should typically use a skills based/combination resume if you have more than 15 years professional experience, a very diverse professional background, and/or are trying to tailor your resume for a specific industry or position.

This format starts with a professional summary and highlights several key professional attributes that you want to emphasize. The skill based/combination format allows a potential interviewer to view your background in an easy to read format that emphasizes the skill sets you are trying to convey.

Keep the following in mind when creating a skills based/combination resume:
  • Ensure your summary paragraph accurately outlines your professional experience.
  • Carefully select the skills listed and the achievements that support each. The first skill set listed should be your strongest and the one you most want to emphasize.
  • Your achievements supporting each skill set should be specific, concise and quantifiable where possible.
  • The Employment Chronology section should not contain gaps in your timeline.
Want to learn more about resumes? Check out sample resumes here or learn about more resume dos and don’ts here.

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