What is a 'Resume'

A resume is a one- to two-page formal document submitted to job recruiters as means of showing a list of an applicant's work experience, education and skills. The document is designed to provide a detailed summary of an applicant's qualifications for a particular job; it is not usually meant to provide a complete picture. A good resume gives the potential employer enough information to believe the applicant is worth interviewing. A one-page cover letter submitted along with the resume can provide additional information about the applicant's qualifications.

BREAKING DOWN 'Resume'

A resume is typically a requirement when applying for most white collar jobs, as well as other professional positions. Job recruiters may screen out applicants whose resumes show that they do not possess the necessary skills to fill the role effectively.

Individuals should use their resumes to highlight specific achievements and emphasize their accomplishments. For example, a satisfactory resume will list under past work experience the specific accomplishments at each job, such as cutting costs or beating sales goals.

The Importance of a Resume's Layout

The structure of resumes often follows an outline pattern that first presents the applicants goals and desires in a new position. Usually, the most recent and current positions held by the applicant come next, followed in chronological order by other jobs to show a career timeline. Recruiters not only examine the details of prior jobs held but also often search for any gaps in employment, unusual patterns such as extremely short-term stays at recent jobs, and the direction the applicant’s career has been heading.

Some human resources and hiring professionals have suggested that applicants with extensive careers not list every job they have held. The interests of newer companies in particular may put more of an emphasis on up-to-date technical skills. This is particularly true if the company seeks to future-proof its operations as the pace of technology change continues to accelerate. Legacy skills that see reduced demand may even detract from resumes that otherwise show a candidate to be astute and capable of performing the job. Each prospective employer has their own set of needs they are searching for when looking for potential hires; effective resumes aim to highlight how the applicant can most effectively perform in that specific role.

With the increased preference for electronic resume submissions, there have been changes in the dynamics of resumes. In the past, these documents were strictly text-based. Digital submissions now may include small charts, graphs or other elements as ways to further illustrate where the applicant’s strengths and interests are most pronounced.

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