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Best Resume Layouts for New Job Applicants

written by: Marjory Pilley•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/25/2011

A new job applicant is challenged to present minimal information in an eye-catching and informative way. The best resume layouts are discussed in this article along with a template and tips for maximum impact.

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    Getting Started

    Sometimes the hardest part about writing a resume is just getting started. Overcome this roadblock by beginning with the end in mind. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? By establishing and writing down your career goals, it will be easier to create a focused and effective resume because you will know what information to highlight and which details to leave off. Your objective will flow from the goals you set and targeting your job search will be easier too.

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    The Best Resume Layouts

    Create a resume that will catch the eye of a potential employer. The best format for a resume is one that leaves an impact in less than 20 seconds. That's how long a potential employer usually spends reviewing a resume when sorting through a stack of applications. Resumes are often presented in a chronological format or a skills-based format. A combination of these two styles, or a hybrid format, is also an option.

    • Chronological resumes showcase a work history starting with the most recent position. This format is effective when applying for a position where the applicant has previous experience. Most employers are comfortable with this format, but it may not always be the most eye-catching layout.
    • Skills-based resumes pull from various work, educational and volunteer experiences to outline transferable skills. A summary section is located near the top of the resume. This format is desirable when the job-seeker has skills that are not necessarily represented in the experience section. For example, persons switching career paths often make use of this format. Work history is downplayed.
    • Hybrid resumes are a combination of the chronological and skills-based resumes. It's the best of both worlds!

    How do you choose from the best resume layouts? Consider the job requirements and your qualifications. Select the format that will tell the best story. A hybrid resume works well for many new job-seekers because of the flexibility it provides.

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    Free Resume Template

    An example of the hybrid resume format has been created an uploaded to the Media Gallery. It is free to download this document. Use the following information about the key elements to customize it:

    • Header - The header includes basic contact information. Designate a single address, phone number and email address for employer contact to minimize confusion.
    • Profile or Goal - Include a statement that succinctly describes your qualifications in terms that would be helpful to the potential employer. Don't focus solely on what you plan to get out of the relationship. An example of a profile statement is: Enthusiastic and dedicated customer service professional with excellent communication skills.
    • Summary of Qualifications - List key skills that you possess for the job under consideration. Draw from your prior work experience, volunteer activities and school projects. Accomplishments may also be listed here. For example, if you managed a budget of $10,000 for a school organization, list that here. The section may also be titled "Summary of Qualifications and Accomplishments." As the number of concrete accomplishments grows, separate the bullet points into two separate sections: "Summary of Qualifications" and "Accomplishments."
    • Education - For higher education, include the name of the degree obtained, the institution and location. If necessary, list the anticipated graduation date. For new college graduates, it is customary to include the GPA if it is 3.0 overall. Alternatively, you can list the GPA for classes taken in the major if it is 3.0 or higher. Specify which calculation is used.
    • Experience - Identify the job title, employer, location and dates of service for recent work performed. To highlight experience over education, simply move this section up on the resume template. Note that key job responsibilities and skills are listed in the "Summary of Qualifications" section.
    • Awards and Honors - Use this section to highlight honors bestowed for extra effort.
    • Affiliations and Certifications - Include organizations and certifications that are relevant to the job under consideration.

    Note that references are not mentioned on the resume. Properly format a list of job references and make this separate document available upon request.

    Tip: Read and re-read your resume so that there are absolutely no typographical errors! Start at the bottom to get a new perspective.

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    Next Steps

    Once you have prepared your first resume, pat yourself on the back, but don't become complacent. Continually review, polish, and revise it. Even for veterans in the workforce, refinement is a never-ending process. Follow these tips to maintain an up-to-date and effective resume:

    • Ask professionals to review your resume. Seek input on use of special industry terms and ways to expand your experience.
    • Identify areas and skills that seem sparse. Could you join a professional group or trade organization? As you fill in the gaps, update your resume.
    • As you gain experience, change the format or update the summary of qualifications to be more accomplishment based.

    Image Credit:

    Reference: Whitcomb, Susan Britton. Resume Magic, 4th Ed: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer. 4 ed. Indianapolois: Jist Works, 2010. Print.