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How to Select the Right Resume Format For Your Job


Whenever you apply for a job, it is normal to submit a resume, aka curriculum vitae (CV). It will give the hiring manager a brief look at your education, work experience, and skills. While the contents of your resume are important, so is the way you format it.

There are several different formats you can choose from, and each will have pros and cons, from visual appeal to an intuitive presentation, so with many options, how do you know the job application format? This article is going to look at how to select the right template for you and your job-searching process.

Be Aware of Your Audience

Whenever you write or format your CV, it is important to keep in mind who will read it, i.e., selecting a shortlist of applicants for a specific role. For example, if you’re seeking an opportunity with a marketing or PR agency, how you present your personal and professional details will need to appeal to them directly instead of a hirer in a manufacturing business.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to standing out among the crowd. You will have competition, i.e. other job applicants and therefore, you’ll want your CV to resonate with the person responsible for the shortlisting applicants.

Tailor your writing style and visual presentation of your work record, personal information and soft skills to that of the business you’re interested in securing a job with. If you’re seeking a role in finance or retail, or a startup tech firm you will have transferable skills that work for many different industries e.g. customer relationship management. However, how you articulate your experience will differ. A traditional finance company will likely want something a little more formal. In contrast, the tech startup will appreciate a more casual presentation style.

Job Application Format Fundamentals

While every hiring manager is different, there are a few universal formatting tips to help your CV stand out. First of all, the template should be clean and straightforward to read and understand. Next, it should use white space and showcase fonts easy to read on-screen and on paper.

While the audience for your resume will often be just one person, i.e. a hiring manager most likely, that isn’t always the case anymore. Many companies will use applicant tracking systems to sift through applications. You need to keep this in mind and use a format that is easy to read both for a human and for these systems that are often in place.

Work With Your Strengths

The type of format you opt to go with for your job application should directly tie into your skills and experience for the role. You want to highlight your strengths and minimize the negatives associated with your weaknesses. For example, if you are a new student with little to no work experience, you should lead with your education, as it will be more impressive than your work history.

However, if you have been a working professional for a decade, be sure to start off with your work experience and then include your education later in the application. Leading with your best selling points is a sure strategy for hiring managers to see you as a strong candidate for your ideal job.

This is especially important as you only have a couple of seconds to make a good impression on recruiters. Most of them will begin reading at the top of your application’s screen or piece of paper, so put the most critical information first.

Ask For Assistance

When in doubt, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Choosing the right resume aka curriculum vitae format to represent you could make or break your job search, so it is not a decision to take lightly. You could ask friends or family, look at online resources, or even just google some examples out there and see what those with similar backgrounds have done.

The information you find should help you know which format works best for you. Who knows, you might even pick up some other useful tips and information on the way. Of course, the internet is not always right, so be sure to consult reputable sites, platforms, and individuals for feedback.

In conclusion, make sure you have selected the right template for your job hunt. While the contents are arguably the most important, using the wrong format could really hurt you in the long run.

Another way to present yourself in a unique way is to use a pitch deck.

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