The Art of the Resume – What Format to Use?


As a part of our ongoing job seeker series “The Art of the Job Search,” we’ve created a series of tips regarding resume writing and promotion. The first installment in the resume series discusses the various formats you can use, depending on the type of position for which you are applying.

Being a job seeker can be a full time job. First, you research your target industries and find the companies you feel would be the best fit. You network with employees at those companies, attend job fairs, and search job boards to see what types of jobs are in demand. For all the work you do, is your resume helping or hurting you? Think of your cover letter and resume as your personal marketing pieces – what the employer will reference again and again when considering you for their company. Does your resume encompass all that you can offer? Does it stand out from the crowd?

The first thing to consider when creating or redoing your resume is the format. Different formats can be used to accomplish certain career goals. The traditional resume formats include chronological, functional, and a combination of both.

The chronological format lists your education and experience in order, most recent first. You can use this format when you want a position in your current industry, you have extensive experience, or you can demonstrate upward movement in your positions. These factors prove you are ready for the next step in your career.

The functional format revolves around accomplishments in your career. Use this format when you want to make a career change and feel your experience could be used in a new industry, if you have held many different jobs in a short period of time, or you are returning to work after long absence.

The combination format presents your relevant skills in chronological order. This format can be used whether you want to move to a new industry or remain in your current field. The combination format is also a good option when you have gaps in employment, want to express how your skills in other types of work, such as volunteering, can be transferred to the position, or when your past job titles do not encompass all of your responsibility in that position. 

Regardless of the format you select, it is most important to tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying. As you look over your experience, does it mirror the qualifications required in the posting?

Here are some general formatting tips to leave the employer ready to learn more after reading your resume.

  • Make sure your resume is easy to read with clearly defined sections (Education, Experience, etc.) and bullet point lists of responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Include proper spelling and grammar, double check that all text is in the same font, and that there are distinct heading and bullet point list sizes. Your name and contact information should be the largest font for quick recognition.
  • Demonstrate all relevant training in your Education section. Do you have a certification the employer would be interested in seeing?
  • Along with your responsibilities in each job you include, list accomplishments you feel could be applied to the position to which you are applying.
  • Have references ready upon request from the employer who can vouch for your experience and accomplishments.

The Art of the Job Search – The Job Fair

ImageThe job fair is an excellent opportunity for job seekers and recruiters alike. Potentially months of networking and learning can be done in a single day and in one location. Here are some tips for finding success at your next job fair.

Do your homework. Job seekers can obtain lists of employers who will be at a job fair ahead of time. Study which companies you want to speak with at the job fair, based on your industry, the company reputation and what types of positions they are currently recruiting.

Dress for success. Wear interview attire and comfortable shoes for standing in line, and carry a portfolio to keep your paperwork handy.

Practice your introduction. Facing a long line of prospective employees, a recruiter may only have a few moments for you to make an impression. Come up with a quick introduction highlighting your experience and enthusiasm for their company. This is the opportunity to have your questions about the company and position answered, so be sure to prepare them ahead of time as well.

Bring extra. Be sure to have extra copies of your resume, pens and notepads, and your business card to provide your name, email and phone numbers to recruiters.

Arrive early. Arrive before the job fair opens to get through checking in and get in line for your first company of choice sooner.

Make contacts. A successful job fair experience may be measured by the amount of contacts you make. Collect business cards from every recruiter with whom you speak, as well as other job seekers in line. You never know which contact could help you land your next position!

Attend any workshops or seminars. More and more job fairs have seminars for job seekers, with topics such as resumes and interviewing. Seminars are another great way to seek advice and network with recruiters. Many job fairs also feature schools that offer continuing education opportunities. To stay ahead in your field, talk to these representatives to learn about courses and certifications they offer.

Follow up. After the job fair, be sure to write a brief thank you note or email to the recruiters you meet. The note will remind the recruiter of the time and location of your introduction, and further demonstrate your enthusiasm for their company.

Job fairs are excellent opportunities to be seen by recruiters in person and learn about opportunities in your field.

Fredericksburg, Virginia Job Fair Note: will be featured at the Employment Fair at the Riverside Conference Center on Thursday, May 8, from 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. We will offer job seekers and employers valuable tips on finding the best area positions and candidates!

For more information on the Fredericksburg, Virginia Job Fair, please visit our Facebook page to learn more.

The Art of the Job Search – Finding What Matters to You


This week, we continue our series “The Art of the Job Search” with a checklist of what to consider as you research employers. These factors can help you determine if you would be a good fit for the company, and if the company would be a good fit for you. Does the company match your preference in these areas? In your own research and in the interview process, finding out if your preferences align with the employer will help you determine if they are a good fit for you, and vice-versa.

Company reputation
Is the company well-known in your area? If so, check reviews online and by word-of-mouth to determine how they treat customers and business partners.

What kind of company culture do you want? Please keep in mind that a company can encompass more than one categorization.

  • Family-oriented, with a focus on mentoring and nuturing the careers of its employees
  • An entrepreneurial spirit, with a focus on taking risks and experimentation with products and services
  • The primary focus is the competition and the results each employee produces
  • A structured and controlled environment, with a focus on efficiency

What is your ideal type of job description?

  • Very clear – You would know exactly what tasks you are responsible for in your position.
  • Somewhat clear – While you know your overall responsibilities (example: database maintenance), you are flexible with the specific tasks assigned to you.
  • Vague is fine – You don’t need a job description, as you are willing to take on whatever tasks are required at the time.

Location, location, location
How far are you willing to travel to work? Are there public amenities (access to public transportation, restaurants and stores) or is the company in a remote location?

Opportunities for advancement
Does the company provide annual reviews to discuss your performance and possibilities to move within the organization? How are raises considered?

Autonomy of the position
Especially as telecommuting positions become more prevalent, determine if you want to work on your own or as part of a team. This also speaks to the company’s privacy policies. Would you be working in a closed office or a collaborative work environment?

The more you know before accepting a position, the better off you will be. The interview process for some positions can be lengthy, so it is best to know ahead of time if the company would offer your ideal environment beforehand. As you begin talks with an employer, the research you have done will reflect your enthusiasm for the position. The interview process is also the time to learn as much as you can about a company and further gauge if the company or organization is a good fit for you.

The Art of the Job Search – Digital and In-Person Networking

This week, we begin a new series entitled “The Art of the Job Search.” Each week, we will discuss topics job seekers face in their job hunt, and will provide some useful information for employers looking for their next hire as well. Our first installment in this new series will focus on networking – both digitally and in person.


As you begin or continue your job search, you may be spending your time searching and applying for jobs that match your experience and ideal career goals. While these are important steps in any job search, building relationships with people in your preferred industries is also important. According to a report by U.S. News & World Report,* some statistics show as much as 80% of new hires were based off referrals within the company. In this digital era, job seekers and recruiters alike must capitalize on
both in-person and online networking opportunities to build those relationships.

These days, digital channels are great ways to reach new industry contacts and obtain networking advice before you meet face-to-face. With social media sites as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, you have the ability to search for hiring managers in companies you’re interested in and what events offer the opportunity to meet them.

Some quick tips for digital networking include:

  • Search for hiring managers and other key staff at a company’s social pages including their own website. Connect with hiring managers on as many channels as possible to build that relationship.
  • Be sure your resume includes any professional networking links, including LinkedIn and your professional blog if you have one.
  • Likewise, be sure to hyperlink your resume to your social networking sites. If you are not currently employed, let people know you’re looking through posts including your resume.
  • Complete all stages of each social media profile. For example, completed LinkedIn profiles appear higher in search engine results. These searches are another way hiring managers research a potential employee before meeting with them.
  • Join the conversation for your desired industries on Twitter’s industry chats and LinkedIn Groups. You not only stay on top of the latest industry news, but you will receive priceless tips from people working in your field. Your contributions to the group may be noticed by a hiring manager ready to meet you!

One of the goals of digital networking efforts is to land the face-to-face meeting with the industry contact. Some of the places to network include job fairs, Chamber of Commerce meetings, and industry events. Some great sites exist that may help you find industry events in your area, including Facebook, LinkedIn Groups, Eventful and MeetUp.

After you network in-person, it is best to always be the person who follows up. Never assume a contact will reach out to you. Instead, be proactive and ask for a business card or contact information, as well the method they prefer to stay in touch. After the meeting, be sure to send a follow up email or make a call to keep the communication flowing. Your contact may have spoken to a great many people at a single event, and this is a great way for your discussion to stay fresh in their memory.

As you control your digital presence and utilize more networking tools online, you will be set above the crowd, helping you land the coveted face-to-face meeting sooner!

* U.S. News & World Report, “Tips to Succeed With In-Person Networking,” January 2013

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