9.5 Résumé

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the differences among functional, reverse chronological, combination, targeted, and scannable résumés.
  2. Discuss what features are required in each type of résumé.
  3. Prepare a one-page résumé.

A résumé is a document that summarizes your education, skills, talents, employment history, and experiences in a clear and concise format for potential employers. The résumé serves three distinct purposes that define its format, design, and presentation:

  1. To represent your professional information in writing
  2. To demonstrate the relationship between your professional information and the problem or challenge the potential employer hopes to solve or address, often represented in the form of a job description or duties
  3. To get you an interview by clearly demonstrating you meet the minimum qualifications and have the professional background help the organization meet its goals

An online profile page is similar to a résumé in that it represents you, your background and qualifications, and adds participation to the publication. People network, link, and connect in new ways via online profiles or professional sites like LinkedIn. In many ways, your online profile is an online version of your résumé with connections and friends on public display. Your MySpace and Facebook pages are also often accessible to the public, so never post anything you wouldn’t want your employer (current or future) to read, see, or hear. This chapter covers a traditional résumé, as well as the more popular scannable features, but the elements and tips could equally apply to your online profile.

Main Parts of a Résumé

Regardless of the format, employers have expectations for your résumé. They expect it to be clear, accurate, and up to date (Bennett, S. A., 2005). This document represents you in your absence, and you want it to do the best job possible. You don’t want to be represented by spelling or grammatical errors, as they may raise questions about your education and attention to detail. Someone reading your résumé with errors will only wonder what kind of work you might produce that will poorly reflect on their company. There is going to be enough competition that you don’t want to provide an easy excuse to toss your résumé at the start of the process. Do your best work the first time.

Résumés have several basic elements that employers look for, including your contact information, objective or goal, education and work experience, and so on. Each résumé format may organize the information in distinct ways based on the overall design strategy, but all information should be clear, concise, and accurate (Simons, W., and Curtis, R., 2004).

Contact Information

This section is often located at the top of the document. The first element of the contact information is your name. You should use your full, legal name even if you go by your middle name or use a nickname. There will plenty of time later to clarify what you prefer to be called, but all your application documents, including those that relate to payroll, your social security number, drug screenings, background checks, fingerprint records, transcripts, certificates or degrees, should feature your legal name. Other necessary information includes your address, phone number(s), and e-mail address. If you maintain two addresses (e.g., a campus and a residential address), make it clear where you can be contacted by indicating the primary address. For business purposes, do not use an unprofessional e-mail address like sexiluvr93@hotmale.com or tutifruti@yafoo.com. Create a new e-mail account if needed with an address suitable for professional use.

Figure 9.7 Sample Contact Information

Sample of how to format contact information, showing the name in bold font, centred at the top of the page. Below the name, aligned to the left margin, is the home address, phone number, and email. If needed, a second column of contact information may be added, aligned to the right margin.


This is one part of your résumé that is relatively simple to customize for an individual application. Your objective should reflect the audience’s need to quickly understand how you will help the organization achieve its goals.

Figure 9.8 Sample Objective

Sample objective statement tailored to the audience by including the company name and position applied for.


You need to list your education in reverse chronological order, with your most recent degree first. List the school, degree, and grade point average (GPA). If there is a difference between the GPA in your major courses and your overall GPA, you may want to list them separately to demonstrate your success in your chosen field. You may also want to highlight relevant coursework that directly relate to the position.

Figure 9.9 Sample Education Field

Sample Education field showing Education as the 1st level heading, in bold all caps, followed by the school name, degree, and GPA in title case. Below that is the 2nd level heading Related Course Work, formatted in bold title case, followed by a horizontal list of four courses in title case.

Work Experience

List in reverse chronological order your employment history, including the positions, companies, locations, dates, duties and skills demonstrated or acquired. You may choose to use active, descriptive sentences or bullet lists, but be consistent. Emphasize responsibilities that involved budgets, teamwork, supervision, and customer service when applying for positions in business and industry, but don’t let emphasis become exaggeration. This document represents you in your absence, and if information is false, at a minimum you could lose your job.

Figure 9.10 Sample Work Experience

Sample Work Experience field showing Work Experience as the 1st level heading, formatted exactly the same as the previous 1st level heading of Education. The next line shows the name of the company as well as start and end dates. On the next line is the job title, followed by a bulleted list.

Table 9.5 Types of Résumés

Type Function Advantage Disadvantage
1. Reverse Chronological Reverse chronological résumés (also called reverse time order) focus on work history. Demonstrates a consistent work history It may be difficult to highlight skills and experience.
2. Functional Functional résumés (also called competency-based résumés) focus on skills. Demonstrates skills that can clearly link to job functions or duties It is often associated with people who have gaps in their employment history.
3. Combination A combination résumé lists your skills and experience first, then employment history and education. Highlights the skills you have that are relevant to the job and provides a reverse chronological work history Some employers prefer a reverse chronological order.
4. Targeted A targeted résumé is a custom document that specifically highlights the experience and skills that are relevant to the job. Points out to the reader how your qualifications and experience clearly match the job duties Custom documents take additional time, preparation, analysis of the job announcement, and may not fit the established guidelines.
5. Scannable A scannable résumé is specifically formatted to be read by a scanner and converted to digital information. Increasingly used to facilitate search and retrieval, and to reduce physical storage costs Scanners may not read the résumé correctly.

You may choose to include references at the end of your résumé, though “references upon request” is common. You may also be tempted to extend your résumé to more than one page, but don’t exceed that limit unless the additional page will feature specific, relevant information that represents several years of work that directly relates to the position. The person reading your résumé may be sifting through many applicants and will not spend time reading extra pages. Use the one-page format to put your best foot forward, remembering that you may never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Maximize Scannable Résumé Content

Use Key Words

Just as there are common search terms, and common words in relation to each position, job description, or description of duties, your scannable résumé needs to mirror these common terms. Use of nonstandard terms may not stand out, and your indication of “managed employees” may not get the same attention as the word “supervision” or “management.”

Follow Directions

If a job description uses specific terms, refers to computer programs, skills, or previous experience, make sure you incorporate that language in your scannable résumé. You know that when given a class assignment, you are expected to follow directions; similarly, the employer is looking for specific skills and experience. By mirroring the employer’s language and submitting your application documents in accord with their instructions, you convey a spirit of cooperation and an understanding of how to follow instructions.

Insert a Key Word Section

Consider a brief section that lists common words associated with the position as a skills summary: customer service, business communication, sales, or terms and acronyms common to the business or industry.

Make It Easy to Read

You need to make sure your résumé is easy to read by a computer, including a character recognition program. That means no italics, underlining, shading, boxes, or lines. Choose a sans serif (without serif, or decorative end) font like Arial or Tahoma that won’t be misread. Simple, clear fonts that demonstrate no points at which letters may appear to overlap will increase the probability of the computer getting it right the first time. In order for the computer to do this, you have to consider your audience—a computer program that will not be able to interpret your unusual font or odd word choice. A font size of eleven or twelve is easier to read for most people, and while the computer doesn’t care about font size, the smaller your font, the more likely the computer is to make the error of combining adjacent letters.

Printing, Packaging and Delivery

Use a laser printer to get crisp letter formation. Ink-jet printers can have some “bleed” between characters that may make them overlap, and therefore be misunderstood. Folds can make it hard to scan your document. E-mail your résumé as an attachment if possible, but if a paper version is required, don’t fold it. Use a clean, white piece of paper with black ink; colours will only confuse the computer. Deliver the document in a nine-by-twelve-inch envelope, stiffened with a sheet of cardstock (heavy paper or cardboard) to help prevent damage to the document.

Figure 9.11 Sample Format for Chronological Résumé

Supneet Sekhon
502 Edgemond Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta T5Z 5R5
Telephone: (403) 238-6775



Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Calgary, Alberta
Chemical Technology (first year)
Grade point average: 3.7/4.0
2016 Viscount Bennet Center (Continuing Education)
Calgary, Alberta
Math 30, Math 31, Chemistry 30, Physics 30Achieved an A in all courses




Arby’s Restaurant
Calgary, Alberta
Front-line Cashier

  • Entered orders into a computerized ordering system
  • Processed orders efficiently and accurately
  • Handled up to $5000 cash each day and balanced the till at the end of the shift
  • Trusted to open and close the restaurant without a manager present
Triple A Student Painters
Calgary, Alberta

  • Solicited clients for a self-directed painting company
  • Gained 15 clients over a period of eight weeks
  • Completed jobs on time and within budget
  • Worked as part of a team
2012-2014 Calgary Stampede
Calgary, Alberta
Kid’s World Ride Attendant

  • Maintained a safe environment in hectic conditions
  • Learned to operate equipment safely and within regulations


Supneet Sekon


page 2




  • Athletic Heritage Scholarship $1000
  • Alberta Rutherford Scholarship $1000
  • Completed French bilinguall program at William Aberhart High School



  • Training with Delerium Mogul Ski Team, Sunshine Village, Banff
  • Competing interprovincially in western Canada and regionally in Alberta
  • Qualified for Senior Women’s National Mogul Ski Competition in Quebec
  • Competed with William Aberhart High School Swim Team, 2014-2016


Available on Request



Figure 9.12 Sample Format for Functional Résumé

5792 Temple Drive NE
Calgary, Alberta T3R 7B8
(403) 247-6745


  • Accounting position leading to managerial position


  • Presented written and oral reports for management team.
  • Designed and wrote the employee policy manual.
  • Coordinated department administrative requirements.
  • Worked as a member of the administrative team to provide efficient and accurate support to the Heath, Safety, and Environment department.
  • Responded to customer inquiries and complaints.
  • Constructed visuals for written and oral presentations, simplifying complex graphs and charts.


  • Managed accounts receivables and payables.
  • Prepared budgets, monitored, analysed, and reported costs and variances against budgets.
  • Prepared and maintained department financial and personnel authorities.
    Audited expense claims, verified invoices, and reconciled accounts.


  • Reviewed resumes and interviewed prospective employees.
  • Trained new staff in the accounting department.
  • Supervised, established, and maintained department file and library system, including supervising two library technologists


  • Completed SAIT Certificates of Completion in
    • Access,
    • Excel
    • Microsoft Word


James Cardiff
(403) 247-7645
page 2


Manager, Harry Rosen Menswear
Calgary, Alberta
September 2015 to present

Accounts Clerk, AAA Accounting
Calgary, Alberta
June 1999-2005


Accelerated Accounting Program (Continuing Education)
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Calgary, Alberta
September 1997-1999


  • Time Management
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Quality Processes


  • Volunteer at Shell Chinook Club as floor representative
  • Emergency Evacuation Team, chief floor warden
  • Physically fit from regular running and weight training
  • Community soccer coach
  • Skiing, hiking, camping, and movies


  • Available on request



Figure 9.13 Sample Format for Scannable Résumé

Sample Scannable Resume showing applicant’s name and contact information at the top, centre. The main headings used are all left-aligned in the following order: Objective, Education, and Employment. Apart from the headings in bold font and white space between sections, there is very little formatting. The information beneath each heading is simply left-aligned, with no subheadings or bullets.

Key Takeaway

A résumé will represent your skills, education, and experience in your absence. Businesses increasingly scan résumés into searchable databases.


  1. Find a job announcement with specific duties that represents a job that you will be prepared for upon graduation. Choose a type of résumé and prepare your résumé to submit to the employer as a class assignment. Your instructor may also request a scannable version of your résumé.
  2. Conduct an online search for a functional or chronological résumé. Please post and share with your classmates.
  3. Conduct an online search for job advertisements that detail positions you would be interested in, and note the key job duties and position requirements. Please post one example and share with your classmates.
  4. When is a second page of your résumé justified? Explain.
  5. Conduct an online search for resources to help you prepare your own résumé. Please post one link and a brief review of the Web site, noting what features you found useful and at least one recommendation for improvement.


Bennett, S. A. (2005). The elements of résumé style: Essential rules and eye-opening advice for writing résumés and cover letters that work. AMACOM.

Simons, W., & Curtis, R. (2004). The Résumé.com guide to writing unbeatable résumés. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


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