A memorable résumé is crucial in helping you get your foot in the door. "The structure and strategy behind a résumé are often the keys to engaging employers," says Laura Smith-Proulx, executive director of résumé writing service An Expert Résumé. Getting the right résumé formula isn't as hard as it looks. Here's a top-to-bottom list to help you craft the perfect résumé:Clear formatMany different formats are available online. Choose a format that looks professional and use an 11- or 12-point font so no one has to squint. Colors done in a tasteful manner can also help job seekers stand out, says Mary Elizabeth Bradford, author of "21st Century Résumé Guide for the Perplexed." "I prefer two colors to add character to a résumé but one must use discernment and not overdo it," she says.
Résumé title If you're worried about starting with a boring summary of your achievements, use the top of your résumé to convey a quick title, such as, "Business Development and Sales Director" or "Vice President, IT," Smith-Proulx suggests. "Résumés without titles often appear 'headless' and confuse the reader as to your ultimate goal," she says.
Quick tagline and profileAfter the title, add a one-sentence tagline to further promote your skills and "give a quick snapshot of brand value," Smith-Proulx says. Then add a profile of your qualifications in one or two sentences. Tailor your résumé with keywords from the job description to help your résumé get past the electronic filtering systems.
Reverse-chronological job historyMost hiring managers want to see this type of résumé, even if there are holes in your job history. "Even if there are gaps in your career, it's critical to show employers your work chronology, as many will rule out candidates that appear to be hiding something about their past," Smith-Proulx says. Address any gaps with a single-line explanation, she adds. With limited space, use the bullet points of each role to highlight specific achievements. If your résumé goes back more than 15 years, then simply state the company name and position without providing details.
EducationRecruiters don't need to know where you went to high school, but it's important to include any certifications or college degrees that are applicable to your career. Most of the time, graduation years are also necessary. No matter what degree you earned, don't be afraid to point it out, Smith-Proulx says. "Even seemingly unrelated degrees can be valuable to employers, as in the case of sales reps who have a degree in psychology," she says.
Extracurricular activitiesEven though it doesn't speak directly to your professional background, including any hobbies or volunteering positions can help you stand out from the other applicants. Several points that allude to your personality will help hiring managers gauge whether you'd be a fit for the company's culture or provide a glimpse of your life outside of work. But be careful about disclosing too much about your religious or political views. "You'll want to avoid mentioning affiliations that disclose your religious activities, as this can turn off hiring managers who don't share your preference," Smith-Proulx says.
As you work to include the various components, it's important to tailor certain areas of your résumé. Consider your résumé from an employer's perspective -- decide which skills and accomplishments are best to highlight. "Leave out info that does not apply to your next job," Bradford says. "Get laser-focused on an ideal job and write the résumé to that industry and position." Each position is different, so having various versions can help you build a more memorable document.