Many of us will write at least one resume in our professional life. Whether you are a fresh graduate launching into a new career, a parent looking to return to the workforce, or a mid-career professional transiting between jobs or industries, knowing how to write a good resume is a useful skill to have.
The format of your resume may differ, depending on the industry you are in or the circumstances that warrant the need for a resume. Here are the three most popular resume formats:
- Reverse Chronological
- Combination Resume
1. Reverse Chronological Resume Format
This is the most commonly used format by job-seekers as its linear and straightforward structure makes it easy to understand the work experience and history. This type of resume works well for individuals who have been in the industry for a while and/or specialize in a particular area.
2. Functional Resume Format
This format emphasizes the soft and hard skills of the job seeker. The functional resume is ideal for fresh graduates or individuals seeking to transit into a new industry because it highlights the strengths and transferable skills rather than focus on gaps in work history or lack of experience.
3. Combination Resume Format
This combines both the Chronological and Functional resume formats, sharing an equal emphasis on experience and skills. This format is suitable for job-seekers in technical or technological professions such as engineering or IT.
What are the key elements to include in your resume?
These are the essential information to include in your resume. There are no rules as to what information or how much to add to each section. A good rule of thumb to go by is to ask yourself if the information is appropriate for the job description and if it will display your skills and attributes positively to your potential employer.
Identify keywords in the job description and then strategically place them in your resume. Pepper the keywords throughout your resume to increase the chances of your resume being shortlisted by the potential employer.
The following are the sections to include in your resume.
- Name and Contact information
- Executive Summary
- Core Competencies
- Career Accomplishments
- Work Experiences
- Education & Credentials
Name and Contact information should be simple and to the point. Do include personal information like phone number, email address, or your LinkedIn handle.
Executive Summary consists of 2 – 3 clear sentences that reflect your personal statement or career synopsis. This is your USP (unique selling point). Start your summary with an impressive title, function, or professional category (eg. Seasoned Sales Specialist) and impressive achievements or facts that is fitting for the job application (eg. with a proven track record for closing multi-million contracts).
Keep your sentence short and allow the achievements and facts to stand out. Capture attention by using strong descriptive terms, energetic phrasing, and action verbs. If you do not have much professional experience, change this to your objective. State your ambitions/goal/intention in this chosen field.
The Skills section highlights your areas of expertise. Typically, highlight 9 – 12 core competencies that is required for the job. Include a good mix of hard skills (technical or pragmatic abilities eg. programming language in a developer position) versus soft skills (eg. interpersonal interactions, emotional intelligence, leadership, organization). Prioritize the skills most valued by the employer by analyzing the job description.
Career Accomplishments should showcase the achievements and milestones you have acquired in your chosen profession. It can be a standalone section or included as part of your employment history.
Use facts, percentages, and numbers to provide specific examples of achievements/results. For example, did you save your company money? Did you increase the score of user engagement in an online campaign? Did you bring in $X in revenue within a period of time? Were you part of a team effort that won an award for the company?
Under Employment or Work History, you should highlight your past employment and professional experiences. Include only relevant job appointments and tailor your job portfolio to impress your future employer.
Each position should be outlined as per the following:
- Job title, company name
- Month and year started and left the position
- 3 – 6 bullet points briefly outlining your role at the company and results.
Next comes the Education or Credentials section. This may vary depending on the profession or industry. Professions that place a strong emphasis on formal education (eg. law and medical) might benefit from more academic achievements.
The education section is usually written in a reverse chronological format highlighting the most recent and impressive academic achievement. Most employers will like to know what is your highest education qualification, the year, and the institution that issued the qualification, so word it accordingly.
Languages & References are optional. Do include if you have space. Otherwise, brief statements such as these will suffice:
Language: English & Mandarin (spoken & written)
References are available upon request.
If applicable, you may also include Others that addresses the following categories: social projects/volunteer work, hobbies/interests, awards/certificates