There’s no single correct way to write your resume. Just as there’s no one way to write a novel, a letter, or a speech, how you develop your resume and cover letter are largely open-ended and entirely dependent upon a) your accomplishments and b) the job you’re applying to.
Here’s the takeaway:
Your resume should be written, organized and formatted in a way that is most relevant and meaningful to both you and your target reader.
With that in mind, here are 12 resume-writing questions that come up regularly, but have no standard answers (see answers, below). Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you a cookie-cutter approach to resume writing. Don’t buy it.
- Should my resume include a summary statement? An objective statement?
- Should I give greater emphasis to my job titles or the companies where I’ve worked?
- Should I use bullet points or write in paragraphs? Or a combination of the two?
- Should my experience be listed in reverse chronological order, organized beneath functional headers (e.g., Marketing Experience; Management Experience), or some combination of the two?
- I’ve been with the same company for 14 years. Promoted six times. Should I mention each position held?
- Some of my work has been full-time; some freelance. How should I organize my resume?
- I was out of work for 5 years while caring for my child/father/partner. Should I address it on my resume? In my cover letter?
- I’ve been working in IT for 20 years. Should I include all of my technical (computer) skills?
- Which should come first: my education, or my experience? What about my skills?
- Should I include my date of graduation from college? Grad school? High school?!
- I only completed 18 credits. Should I mention it at all?
- Should I list professional references on my resume?
Answers: 1. Depends 2. Depends 3. Depends 4. Depends 5. Depends 6. Depends 7. Depends 8. Depends 9. Depends 10. Depends 11. Depends 12. Um… depends
In reality, the list of unanswerable questions is much longer than this, but you get the idea. These questions need to be considered—not codified. Figuring out the right answers for you and your resume may not be easy, but it’s how you’ll come to truly understand your greatest strengths and weaknesses—and that’s the intelligence you need in order to land a job.