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A résumé (//, REZ-u-may or //; less frequently // or //; French: [ʁezyme]), also spelled 'resumé' or 'resume', is a document used by persons to present their backgrounds and skills. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons, but most often they are used to secure new employment. A typical résumé contains a summary of relevant job experience and education. The résumé is usually one of the first items, along with a cover letter and sometimes an application for employment, which a potential employer sees regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview. The résumé is comparable to a curriculum vitae (CV) in many countries. However, it is substantially shorter than a CV in English Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
In many contexts, a résumé is short (usually one to three pages), and directs a reader's attention to those aspects of a person's background that are directly relevant to a particular position. Many résumés contain keywords that potential employers are looking for, make heavy use of active verbs, and display content in a flattering manner.
A résumé is a marketing tool in which the content should be adapted to suit each individual job application and/or applications aimed at a particular industry. The transmission of résumés directly to employers became increasingly popular as late as 2002. Job seekers were able to circumvent the job application process and reach employers through direct email contact and résumé blasting, a term meaning the mass distribution of résumés to increase personal visibility within the job market. However the mass distribution of résumés to employers can often have a negative effect on the applicant's chances of securing employment as the résumés tend not to be tailored for the specific positions the applicant is applying for. It is usually therefore more sensible to adjust the résumé for each position applied for.
The complexity or simplicity of various résumé formats tends to produce results varying from person to person, for the occupation, and to the industry. It is important to note that résumés or CVs used by medical professionals, professors, artists and people in other specialized fields may be comparatively longer. For example, an artist's résumé, typically excluding any non-art-related employment, may include extensive lists of solo and group exhibitions. Interestingly, when employers review a résumé they typically only spend ten to fifteen seconds, therefore the top half of a résumé is the prime real estate for important information.
A simple résumé is a summary typically limited to one or two pages of size A4 or Letter-size, highlighting only those experiences and qualifications that the author considers most relevant to the desired position. Academic CVs in the US are typically longer.
Résumés may be organized in different ways. The following are some of the more common formats:
A reverse chronological résumé lists a candidate's job experiences in reverse chronological order, generally covering the previous 10 to 15 years. Positions are listed with starting and ending dates. Current positions on a résumé typically list the starting date to the present or to the current year. Both are considered acceptable.
The reverse chronological résumé format is most commonly used by those who are not professional résumé writers. In using this format, the main body of the document becomes the Professional Experience section, starting from the most recent experience and moving chronologically backwards through a succession of previous experience. The reverse chronological résumé works to build credibility through experience gained, while illustrating career growth over time and filling all gaps in a career trajectory. A chronological résumé is not recommended to job seekers with gaps in their career summaries. In the United Kingdom the chronological résumé tends to extend only as far back as the applicant's GCSE/Standard Grade qualifications.
A functional résumé lists work experience and skills sorted by skill area or job function.
The functional résumé is used to focus on skills that are specific to the type of position being sought. This format directly emphasizes specific professional capabilities and utilizes experience summaries as its primary means of communicating professional competency. In contrast, the chronological résumé format will briefly highlight these competencies prior to presenting a comprehensive timeline of career growth through reverse chronological listings, with the most recent experience listed first. The functional résumé works well for those making a career change, having a varied work history or with little work experience. A functional résumé is also preferred for applications to jobs that require very specific skills or clearly defined personality traits. A functional résumé is a good method for highlighting particular skills or experiences, especially when those particular skills or experiences may have derived from a role which was held some time ago. Rather than focus on the length of time that has passed, the functional résumé allows the reader to identify those skills quickly.
The hybrid résumé balances the functional and chronological approaches. A résumé organized this way typically leads with a functional list of job skills, followed by a chronological list of employers. The hybrid résumé has a tendency to repeat itself and is, therefore, less widely used than the other two.
The Internet has brought about a new age for the résumé. As the search for employment has become more electronic, résumés have followed suit. It is common for employers only to accept résumés electronically, either out of practicality or preference. This electronic boom has changed much about the way résumés are written, read, and processed.
Many employers, and recruitment agencies working on their behalf, insist on receiving résumés in a particular file format. Some require Microsoft Word documents, while others will only accept résumés formatted in HTML, PDF, or plain ASCII text.
Many employers now find candidates' résumés through search engines, which makes it more important for candidates to use appropriate keywords when writing a résumé. Larger employers use electronic résumé processing systems to handle high volumes of résumés. Job ads may direct applicants to email a résumé to a company or visit its website and submit a résumé in an electronic format.
Many résumé development agencies offer résumé evaluation services wherein they evaluate the résumé and suggest any necessary changes. Candidates are free to either do those changes themselves or may take help of the agency itself. Some career fields include a special section listing the lifelong works of the author: for computer-related fields, the softography; for musicians and composers, the discography; for actors, a filmography.
Keeping résumés online has become increasingly common for people in professions that benefit from the multimedia and rich detail that are offered by an HTML résumé, such as actors, photographers, graphic designers, developers, dancers, etc. Job seekers are finding an ever increasing demand to have an electronic version of their résumé available to employers and professionals who use Internet recruiting. Online résumé distribution services have emerged to allow job seekers to distribute their résumés to numerous employers of their choice through email.
An advantage to online résumés is the significant cost saving compared to traditional hiring methods. In the United States, the Employment Management Association has included Internet advertising in its cost-per-hire surveys for several years. In 1997, for example, it reported that the average cost-per-hire for a print ad was $3,295, while the average cost-per-hire for the Internet was $377. This in turn has cut costs for many growing organizations, as well as saving time and energy in recruitment. Prior to the development of résumés in electronic formats, employers would have to sort through massive stacks of paper to find suitable candidates without any way of filtering out the poor candidates. Employers are now able to set search parameters in their database of résumés to reduce the number of résumés which must be reviewed in detail in the search for the ideal candidate.
Finally, the Internet is enabling new technologies to be used on résumés, such as video résumés—especially popular for multimedia job seekers. Another emerging technology is graphic-enabled résumés.
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