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The Chronological Resume and Scannable Resumes

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The chronological resume is the most common of the various resume formats and therefore the format that employers are most used to receiving. This type of resume is easy to read and understand because it details the chronological progression of jobs you have held. It begins with your most recent employment and works back in time. If you have a solid work history or have experience that provided growth and development in your duties and responsibilities, a chronological resume will highlight these achievements. The typical elements of a chronological resume include the heading, a career objective, educational background, employment experience, activities, and references.

The Heading

The heading consists of your name, address, telephone number, and other means of contact. This may include a fax number, E-mail address, and your home-page address. If you are using a shared E-mail account or a parents business fax, be sure to let others who use these systems know that you may receive important professional correspondence via these systems. You wouldn't want to miss a vital E-mail or fax! Likewise, if your resume directs readers to a personal home page on the Web, be certain it's a professional personal home page designed to be viewed and appreciated by a prospective employer. This may mean making substantial changes in the home page you currently mount on the Web.

We suggest that you spell out your full name in your resume heading and type it in all capital letters in bold type. After all, you are the focus of the resume! If you have a current as well as a permanent address and you include both in the heading, be sure to indicate until what date your current address will be valid. The two-letter state abbreviation should be the only abbreviation that appears in your heading. Don't forget to include the zip code with your address and the area code with your telephone number.

Scannable Resumes

Some companies are relying on technology to narrow the candidate pool for available job openings. Electronic Applicant Tracking uses imaging to scan, sort, and store resume elements in a database. Then, through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, the computer scans the resumes for keywords and phrases. To have the best chance at getting an interview, you want to increase the number of "hits"-matches of your skills, abilities, experience, and education to those the computer is scanning for-your resume will get. You can see how critical using the right keywords is for this type of resume.

Technical considerations include:
  • Again, do not use boldface (newer systems may read this OK, but many older ones wont), italics, underlining, bullets, shading, graphics, or multiple font sizes. Instead, for emphasis, use asterisks, plus signs, or all capital letters. Minimize abbreviations.

  • Use a popular typeface such as Courier, Helvetica, Ariel, or Palatino. Avoid decorative fonts.

  • Font size should be between 11 and 14 points.

  • Do not compress the spacing between letters.

  • Use horizontal and vertical lines sparingly; the computer may misread them as the letters L or I.

  • Left-justify the text.

  • Do not use parentheses or brackets around telephone numbers, and be sure your phone number is on its own line of text.

  • Your name should be the first line of text and on its own line. If your resume is longer than one page, be sure to put your name on the top of all pages.

  • Use a traditional resume structure. The chronological format may work best.

  • Use nouns that are skill-focused, such as management, writer, and programming. This is different from traditional paper resumes, which use action-oriented verbs.

  • Laser printers produce the finest copies. Avoid dot-matrix printers.

  • Use standard, light-colored paper with text on one side only. Since the higher the contrast, the better, your best choice is black ink on white paper.

  • Always send original copies. If you must fax, set the fax on fine mode, not standard.

  • Do not staple or fold your resume. This can confuse the computer.

  • Before you send your scannable resume, be certain the employer uses this technology. If you can't determine this, you may want to send two versions (scannable and traditional) to be sure your resume gets considered.

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