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Building a resume with substance

Patricia Grant-Kitson
Patricia Kitson-Grant
Career writer

You will need to use an appropriate format in creating your résumé . There are two main résumé formats: chronological and functional. The difference between them is a matter of emphasis - the chronological format places the emphasis on your professional work experience while the functional format emphasises your major skills and accomplishments, having this as a separate section.

The chronological format often appeals to the more traditional employers as this format makes it easier for them to see where you worked and what you did at each job.

The disadvantage is that it makes it difficult for them to see what you do best overall, as the chronological résumé often does not include a separate Skills and Accomplishments section, this being presented in bulleted format after the description of the jobs held.

Résumé writing experts suggest that the chronological format be used by persons staying in the same type of work or profession, particularly conservative fields, such as accounting, academia, law, science, etc.

The functional format, which helps readers to see more clearly what you can do for them, is for first-time job seekers (such as students who just graduated and are looking for that first real job), persons seeking a new field or changing careers, persons with divergent careers, persons with a wide range of skills in a particular profession, homemakers returning to the job market, and persons whose skills, interests, etc. extend to several different fields.

You should always explain your job responsibilities. As a general rule, place the work experience/employment history section before the education section since you usually develop more qualifications from your experience than from your education.

One exception to this rule - if you're seeking a career change and/or you just received (or are completing) a degree in a new professional field and this is stronger than your work experience in qualifying you for the position.

· List your jobs in reverse chronological order, i.e. starting with your most recent and/or relevant job.
· Decide which is more impressive - your job tile, the institution you worked for, or the length of time you worked there - and highlight this.
· Describe your core duties or main responsibilities concisely and productively; make this a short paragraph or use a bulleted format. In the latter case, start each sentence with a powerful verb rather than repetitious words such as "Responsible for…"
· Consistently use the first person or third person verb format to begin sentences, for example, starting the sentence with "Assist…" or "Assists…"
· Be consistent in your syntax. For example, it is inconsistent to say "sell park tickets" and "renting wheelchairs to customers". The latter should be "rent wheelchairs to customers".
· If a chronological format résumé, highlight your skills and accomplishments, being as result-oriented as possible. Use the correct tense to describe these - the past tense if the accomplishment is completed, and the present tense if the accomplishment or skill is still underway or still being used.

Remember as well:

**Include all significant education and training, highlighting the most relevant.

**List your degrees and licenses first, followed by diplomas, certificates and other relevant training.

**Highlight (with boldface or italics) the qualifications that support your stated objective.

** If you are still in college or a recent graduate, include your major, distinctions and awards won, and the courses, projects or other coursework relevant to your targeted position.

**Experts suggest that you include your GPA average only if it is over 3.4.

**State the expected completion year for a degree you are currently working towards. For example, B.Sc. Accounting (expected 2010).

If you didn't complete a particular course of study, do not eliminate the years (or months if considerable) you spent studying from your résumé. Identify the institution and the field of study, describe the elements you completed, and state the years/months attended.

*Patricia Grant-Kitson is a Human Resource Management & Training Consultant. Email
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