There are five frequently used styles of resumes, and the one you choose depends on your own particular preference, career and target.


  • A good choice if you’re looking for a position similar to your last role/
  • Most common, easiest to read, well received
  • Starts with your most recent position and works backwards through your work history.
  • May not be the best fit format if:
  • There are gaps in years and employment.
  • You are changing careers.

Functional/Reverse Functional

  • Sometimes used by people with varied backgrounds and by career changers. Also can be a more concise format for people with a long career where the chronological format can be repetitive.
  • Brings past experience forward.
  • Emphasizes functions in which you have experience and which are transferable to several types of positions.
  • De-emphasizes companies, titles and years.
  • De-emphasizes gaps in employment.
  • A good choice if you are looking for a different position that uses similar skills.
  • A good option for self-employed consultants who want to emphasize competencies.
  • Some interviewers and search firms tend to dislike this format because they have to spend more time asking, “Where were you when you did this?” When dealing with Search firms, consider using a chronological format, as it would most likely be best received by that audience.


  • For individuals who need to highlight special technical, IT or equipment knowledge and skill.


  • A creative alternative.
  • Similar to chronological but emphasizes recent functional experience.
  • Organizes your experience if you have several types of jobs.

Creative Alternatives

  • Used primarily for people targeting creative or artistic fields of work.
  • Can be structured in either a chronological or functional format.
  • Highlights the person’s creativity and is viewed as the initial presentation of their portfolio.

Components of the Resume

Regardless of the style or format, resumes tend to contain similar components, depending on your defined target:

  • Vital statistics – name, address, contact numbers and e-mail address
  • Profile or Career Summary – a thumbnail sketch of who you are and what you have done
  • Demonstrated Strengths – specific competencies you want to take forward or that are particularly marketable
  • Achievement Statements – specific accomplishments
  • Career Chronology – a reverse chronology of your companies, dates, titles and scope of roles
  • Education and Professional Development – any post-secondary education and other courses

Defining your Target

It is important that you define your target for two key reasons:

  • Your audience is more likely to be interested in you if you make it easy for them to clearly see how you can help them.
  • You are making a very important choice that impacts your career path, so the clearer the definition of your ideal position, the more likely you’ll find a position consistent with your goals.

Describing your Target

Write down as much detail as possible about your target in terms of:

  • Industry or sector
  • Employer size
  • Location
  • Responsibilities and growth potential
  • Culture
  • Compensation package

List your Target Job Requirements

If you were hiring someone to fill the position you seek, what areas of demonstrated expertise would your ideal candidate possess? When looking at competencies, what skills, knowledge or behaviours differentiate the average from the superior performer?

Make a list of the differentiating competencies, and revisit any areas of development.


Developing Accomplishments

Listing your Accomplishments

Framework to structure your accomplishments:


Begin writing as many small and large accomplishments as you can think of, position by position, year by year.

Don’t worry about length at this point; the less relevant points will be edited out later. Talk to former co-workers, family and friends, as they may remember achievements you may have forgotten.

Use action verbs to accurately describe your role and to quantify where possible. It is important to add the result of what you did, how well it worked, and the value it added to the company or to the position?

Building you Accomplishment Statements

Remember you will want your statements to be qualified and quantified and to summarize your competencies. Use the following as a guide.

What did you do     +

How       +

The Results

Key Word


Value Added

Action verb in the past tense:

Briefly, what skills or techniques did you use?

What better because of what you did?


…An innovative marketing technique for “A-line” designers…

…. That increased sales nationally by 20%.


…. 12 key client accounts through regular follow-up and…

…maintained excellent customer relations.


…. An employee recognition program…

…which significantly increased morale and productivity.


…a company-wide reorganization process..

…. That eliminated duplication of functions, saving the organization $1million.

The potential employer wants to hear what you did, how you did it and what positive outcome resulted, within a few sentences – not paragraphs!!

Developing a Profile

The profile can be easiest to do once you have written the bulk of the resume. The reason for this is that it should summarize the content of your resume. It is a good idea to develop a profile because it helps give the reader a “snapshot” of who you are. It is the introduction to your resume.

You will use a profile (or a version of it) to introduce yourself when you are writing letters, using the telephone, networking and interviewing. Since first impressions are often long lasting, it is important to have a well-written, accurate profile.

What should your profile tell people?

  • Who you are.
  • How much experience you have and in what areas.
  • Your strengths and professional platform.

Some examples:

  • Financial Executive specializing in strategic and operational planning and financial decision support in a fast-paced, consumer driven industry. Successful in combining business and financial knowledge with superior team building skills to generate significant bottom-line contribution. Recognized for setting and achieving high standards without sacrificing quality service.
  • Production Supervisor with over 10 years of experience in a large manufacturing environment. Leads by example, and known for the ability to create order out of chaos. Demonstrated problem-solving skills using hands-on approach.
  • Extensive Administrative and Clerical experience with an emphasis on reception, accounts receivable and payroll backup. A conscientious team player that is dedicated to getting the job done. Proficient with Microsoft Office products.

Questions to help identify accomplishments

  • Describe a specific situation in which you solved a problem or took charge of an emergency.
  • Give an example of something you built or created.
  • Describe an instance in which you developed an idea, or identified a problem that had been overlooked.
  • Did you suggest any new products or programs for your company that were put into effect
  • How have you increased sales or reduced costs for a company?
  • List ways you saved time or money.
  • Did you help establish any new goals or objectives for your company?
  • Did you do anything to make your role more efficient?
  • Have you been involved in a team effort that produced a specific result?
  • What on-the-job training programs have you completed? Have you ever-helped train a peer or subordinate?
  • What do you do better than others who do the same things? Why do you believe you are so much more effective in how you execute these tasks?
  • What do you think differentiates you from your competitors?

List of Action Verbs

The list of action verbs below is alphabetical and not in any order of importance.

Accomplished           Calculated     Dealt with      Exceeded      Improved

Achieved                     Catalogued   Debated         Executed       Increased

Acquired                    Centralized   Decreased     Expanded      Indexed

Activated                    Classified      Decided         Expedited      Influenced

Adjusted                    Chaired          Defined          Explained      Informed

Administered           Coordinated  Deployed       Initiated          Allocated

Coached                    Delegated      Facilitated      Innovated      Analyzed

Collaborated             Delivered       Finalized       Inspected       Applied

Communicated         Installed         Appraised      Compared     Designed

Preparing scannable resumes

With the increase in the volume of resumes companies receive today, electronic resume scanning systems are becoming more common. Rather than manually reviewing, sorting and storing hundreds of resumes, companies can scan a large number of resumes into a giant database. They can then quickly identify potential candidates by searching the database using key words, competencies or job titles.

Because there is more than one-way companies scan resumes into their database, it is worth your time to phone and confirm what formatting requirements you should follow (e.g.: formatting for straight scanning as opposed to Optical Character Recognition (OCR)).

If in doubt, always default to submitting your resume in a straight text format e.g. rich text format (.rtf). Having a clean “scan able” text document will help tracking systems read your information.

Here are some points to consider when preparing a paper resume for scanning:

  • Use as many key words as possible – electronic scanners select resumes by the number of “keyword” matches. Make sure your cover letter and resume contain keywords from the advertisement or job description.
  • Use simple, easy-to-read fonts and no graphics. This eliminates any technical problems in scanning your resume. Use a plain font such as Times New Roman, Courier, Arial, Verdana, etc., in a font size of approximately 12 points.

Preparing to e-mail your resume

There will be a high volume of e-mail responses for any advertised position.

When submitting your resume you should remember to:

  • Have a maximum of one attachment. You can either put your cover letter in the body of the email message, or include it as the first page to your attached resume.
  • Put your name and the position you are applying for in the subject line of the e-mail, which allows for easy sorting and reference.
  • If possible call the company and confirm they use MS Word. Avoid sending your resume in PDF format, which will not properly scan into a database.
  • In addition to attaching your resume, you may also be required to fill in an on-line application form. If possible, download and complete the application form off-line prior to emailing your submission, and then complete the entire form in its entirety.

Facts and hits

  • Less than 2% of those who receive resumes read them thoroughly – 98% scan in less than 30 seconds.
  • Do not be afraid to make your resume longer than one page. The marketplace is accepting of 2 – 3 pages. Don’t sell yourself short. A resume may be passed over if you have not provided enough information.
  • Take your time. If your resume is prepared too quickly it may lack focus and not clearly communicate your accomplishments. It could do you more harm than good.
  • Remember the value of the resume is not only the document itself but also the process of putting it together for potential networking meetings and interviews
  • Nobody can write your resume as well as you can. The resume should be in your own words, ensuring your communication style is consistent with your verbal presentation.
  • Make sure your resume is visually appealing and the content is clearly written and easy to follow.
  • Use a profile rather than an objective. An objective is very narrow in focus. Instead a profile allows you to present your skill set and what you have to offer.
  • Do not include references on your resume. When requested, supply names of references (on a separate sheet of paper) that have given their permission. This protects them from unnecessary calls.
  • Please keep in mind these are general guidelines. These examples can give you some good ideas, but please avoid copying them too closely! Your resume should reflect you, not somebody else. Be creative!
  • Individuals who are targeting creative, literary, or art related opportunities might need to present their skills and experience in a creative or non-traditional resume format.
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