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To obtain the job you want, the importance of a properly formatted resume cannot be overestimated. Many hiring managers receive dozens, even hundreds of resumes for a single position and weed out those applicants with grammatical and syntactical errors or otherwise improperly formatted resumes. Here is an overview of the order in which to list the key items on your resume.
Education Versus Experience
If you are at the beginning of your career, and you have either a short work history or little work experience relevant to the position for which you are applying, list your education before your experience. This will shift the resume reviewer’s focus to your education, rather than your work experience, but only if your level of educational attainment meets or exceeds the minimum education requirement of the position for which you are applying.
List your credentials in order from the highest degree attained to the lowest.
Only include your grade point average if it is a 3.5 or above. The older you are the less employers are likely to consider your grade point average as a relevant factor in most industries.
Make sure you list your educational credentials clearly and unambiguously, especially if you have not completed a degree. Misleading an employer as to your educational history, even if unintentionally, can cost you a job offer, or, if you begin to work before your background check is completed, can cost you your job.
When listing experience, try to stick to no more than three or four accomplishments per position. List accomplishments rather than responsibilities, especially in positions wherein the responsibilities are evident by job title. Accomplishments should be written as if you identified and solved a problem leading to a quantifiable result. For example, an accomplishment for a manager of a human resources department might be:
“In response to staff attrition in the public relations department 36 months ago, implemented a morale boosting program that has resulted in a staff retention rate of 100% and increased productivity 30% over 36 months.”
Unless you lack substantial work experience and transferable skills or are looking to transition into a new industry, use skills lists sparingly or not at all. If you fall into the former category, list your education, followed by your skills, and then your work experience on your resume, as your education will be the most significant item on your resume. If you fall into the latter category, list your skills, then your education, and lastly your experience. In this instance you will be emphasizing the transferability of your skills to a potential employer.
Avoid listing skills that are not closely aligned with your work experience and/or your educational experience. Also avoid listing too many – you do not want to appear as if you have dabbled in a number of fields but have not developed expertise in any.
Certifications should only be listed above education on a resume if you are trying to draw more attention to them than your degrees; this might be true if you work in an industry that highly values certification, such as information technology. Otherwise, list only the certifications relevant to the position for which you are applying in reverse chronological order.
If your resume only contains certifications and degrees, rather than work experience, list your educational credentials before your certifications.