The Function of a Resume
Developing a resume is an important component in the process of getting yourself hired. The main function of a resume is to provide the information, which will interest the employer in interviewing you. Employers initially spend very little time looking at applicants’ resumes, typically only 30 seconds to 1 minute. Therefore, an effective resume is one that:
The Content of a Resume
All resumes should include the following information:
Contact Information Your resume should begin with the following information: name, mailing address, telephone number and email address.
Education Education/degrees should be listed in reverse chronological order (the most recent experience listed first). Include the degree you earned, the date you earned it (month and year), the school that conferred it, and the location (city, state) of the school.
Work History Provide information on relevant experiences, including dates (month and year), job titles, name of the employer and location (city, state), and some description of the skills, responsibilities and accomplishments of your work in each position.
The Organization of a Resume
Resumes are typically organized in one of three ways: chronologically, functionally or in a combination chronological/functional format. Each of these formats has different advantages. (If you are interested in seeing models of the different styles of resumes, you can find them in several of the resources materials available at the SOM Career Center )
A chronological resume lists work experiences in reverse chronological order (with the most recent work experiences listed first). This format is the most traditional; it emphasizes your most recent work experiences, but it also reveals any time gaps you may have in your employment experiences.
A functional resume organizes employment experiences by skill groups. Typically two or three skill groups are highlighted, such as “Research,” “Teaching,” “Supervisory Experience,” etc. These categories should reflect the skills that you think are most relevant to the job(s) you are applying to. The functional format emphasizes your skill areas and accomplishments, rather than your job titles. It is a good format for people with limited employment experience, who have changed fields, or who have large gaps in their work history.
A combination functional/chronological resume has elements of both formats. For example, work history could be divided into several skill categories, and then specific positions are listed chronologically within each category. Another combination format lists positions chronologically, and then organizes the position descriptions by the different types of skills used in the job.
Scannable resumes are those that are specifically designed to be read by a scanner and entered into a computer database. Large companies are more and more frequently using this technology as a first step in screening their applicants. Computers select potential applicants based on specific search terms related to the position and field, called “keywords.” The more keywords found on your resume that match the search criteria, the higher it will be ranked among applicants. Thus an effective resume that is designed to be scanned will include as many concrete terms (usually nouns or short phrases) as possible that relate to the position. You can use the position description as a guide to determining which keywords to include in your resume. Additionally, scannable resumes require simple, straightforward formatting which maximizes legibility in the scanning process.
Optional Information Sections
Job Objective If you choose to include a job objective section, it should follow the contact information and precede education and work history sections of your resume. A job objective succinctly describes the position you are hoping to acquire- your immediate career goal. For example, “a position as a research scientist specializing in small molecules drug discovery for a major pharmaceutical company” (emphasize position title/skills or a particular setting)
Summary of Experiences or Highlights of Qualifications This section, in just a few lines, provides an overview or snapshot of the most important skills and experiences on your resume. For example “five years of research experience in mechanistic enzymology” or “proven ability to work effectively in a high-paced environment with multiple responsibilities.”