It does seem like a question everyone knows the answer to. But, have you ever wondered what is the real purpose of a resume? We’re not saying the most obvious answer isn’t correct. We’re just saying there’s a lot more to it.
The resume you sent when applying for a job doesn’t have a single purpose. There are many perspectives one must take into consideration. Sure, a resume is your ticket to landing a job interview. Still, the truth’s, as always, a bit more complex.
There’s no way you’ll get hired without a resume. Nevertheless, it’s your performance during the interview that counts. The purpose of a resume is to make the recruiters want to interview you at all. Among other things, it will demonstrate your communication skills. Also, they’ll be able to see your past work experience and excitement about the position.
Continue reading to find out if there are other things you didn’t know about resumes. Also, we’ll further elaborate on today’s main topic: a single resume’s purpose. Stick around!
What’s (in) a resume?
A resume is one of the most important documents an adult person can possess. Of course, we can’t compare to a personal ID card or health insurance policy. It’s a document you create on your own, without any legal boundaries. You’re responsible for its contents or visual presentation. Also, what you can achieve using it – rests solely on you!
Here’s the typical definition. A resume is a document used mostly during the hiring process. In it, job applicants present their previous work experience, skills, and education. Both formal and informal. Basically, it’s a person’s summed-up professional biography.
Also, it’s sometimes spelled with accents, like this: résumé, or resumé. Still, the term’s most commonly written as plain old: resume.
How to structure your resume?
The golden standard in resume-making craft is a single-paged A4 document. It should consist of (from top to bottom):
- Your personal (contact) information.
- A resume objective or summary.
- The skills you have, which qualify you for the position.
- The courses you’ve finished, related to the job you’re applying for.
- Your previous work experience.
- Your education summary.
Are there different types of resumes?
We can differentiate three types of resumes:
- Chronological resume. This type is focused on your previous working experience. There’s little or no talk about your skills and objectives.
- Functional resume. This one is focused on the skills and qualifications you have for the job in question. Your work history is briefly mentioned.
- A combination of the mentioned types. In short, you get the best out of both worlds. Both your skills and your experience are equally highlighted.
As you can guess, the third type is the one most experts will recommend you use when applying for a job. Also, see how the order in which sections of your resume are listed above fits the description. The third, combinational type of resume is a must when planning a career change. To learn a bit more about it, read our guide on how to write a resume when switching careers.
Now, there are moments when it’s best you avoid the combinational type. Say, for example, you don’t have a lot of experience or you’ve hopped from one job to another. A functional resume might be your best bet since you want to push the weak points into the background.
What about the visual presentation?
There’s something we forgot to mention above. Sure, recruiters will pay great attention to your experience or skills. That goes without saying! But, it’s equally important you also provide them with a well-designed resume.
So, how does one create a neatly-designed resume? Well, you can scan the internet for some freebie resume templates. Also, you can see if some of your friends know Photoshop or Illustrator. They might supply you with a unique resume design! You can always try it out yourself, using Canva or other user-friendly programs!
One more question: are resume and CV (curriculum vitae) synonyms?
Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. It always depends on who’s talking. Some folks use them as synonyms (resume equals CV equals resume), but most don’t. Speaking formally, there are differences and these two shouldn’t be synonyms.
Here’s what makes these two terms different:
- CV (curriculum vitae) isn’t limited in length. As we said, an ideal resume length is one A4 page.
- A resume should only include details relevant to the job you’re applying for. A CV should contain your whole career.
- CVs are mostly used for academic purposes. Resumes are more associated with job applications.
Now that we’ve seen some crucial information about writing resumes, it’s time for the main dish! Let’s check out their purpose in today’s business world!
What is the purpose of a resume?
If we asked you about the purpose of a resume, what would you say? Would you say the role of a resume lies in its ability to get you the job? If so, you might need to think that one out. Of course, you aren’t gonna get hired without one. Nevertheless, we can’t say that’s the purpose of a resume.
You can’t solely rely on your resume to land you the gig. Not unless you’re a famous movie star or something. The purpose of a resume is to help you get an interview invitation. Once you step into that room, your resume pulls back and lets you finish the job. That might be a poor choice of words here, but you still get the point.
All in all: the purpose of a resume is to make your potential employers take interest in you. Let’s see how that’s done.
Resume purpose deconstruction
Even though this subheading sounds a bit pretentious, we’ll try to keep things simple. So, how do your future employers figure out they want to talk to you? Here are some things to consider:
- Your resume introduces you to your future employers. It needs to communicate your best assets to the other side. Essentially, it tells a certain tale about your professional life.
- You can use your resume to impress your prospective employers. Of course, try to stick close to the truth while writing it. Recruiters will create interview questions based on the info you’ve shared with them.
- The resume demonstrates your professional communication skills and general taste. As we said, the design template you’ll use/create sometimes speaks better than words.
- Your resume’s content will display your excitement and determination to get the job. Make sure you amplify those feeling by sending a cover letter.
Wait, what’s the purpose of sending a cover letter?
Attaching a cover letter to your resume is almost as important as sending the resume itself. Some employers won’t even look at your resume without a cover letter attached to it. Let’s elaborate on the purpose of a cover letter:
- It shows the quality of your writing skills. Just try not to show off!
- The recruiters will have a better insight into what a person you are. Resumes can be so unoriginal and crudely structured!
- As we said, they’ll also see your enthusiasm! It’s kind of hard to express your excitement about the job in the resume! A cover letter pumps life into your application!
- You can expand on the topic of why you’re the perfect candidate for the position. You can talk a bit more about your skills and achievements!
Tips on writing a perfect cover letter
Here we’ll share with you some tips on creating a winning cover letter.
Be original! Don’t use the same template over and over
Sure, it’s very easy to just change the name of the company or the position. Experienced recruiters can tell if you’re just copy-pasting the text. Your cover letter should be one-of-a-kind.
Include the hiring manager’s name in the greeting
Address the hiring manager by their name. If you’re not sure whether you should put Mr. or Ms. you should skip that part. Also, if you know the business is kind of casual, you can address them like this: Dear (Mr.) John Smith…
If you’re not sure about the name try putting the name of the position instead. For example, Dear Hiring Manager… Avoid using To whom it may concern or other alternatives.
Adapt to the company’s writing style
In other words: write using the company’s voice. It will show you understand the cultural habitus surrounding it.
Don’t apologize for missing experience or skills
We’ll be quick here. Never apologize for your so-called weaknesses. Instead, tell ’em what your experience will bring to the company’s table!
What is the purpose of a resume? – a quick resume (sic!)
See what we did there? Anyway, let’s do a quick summary of today’s main topic.
The purpose of your resume is not to land you the job. Actually, its purpose is to make your recruiters feel like they want to interview you. Your resume will:
- introduce them to your professional life, and it might as well impress them.
- show them you’re determined to get the job.
- demonstrate your communication skills.
Also, don’t forget to attach a cover letter to your resume. Some recruiters won’t even care to look at your resume without it.
That’s about it for today. If you’re wondering how to land more interviews in the upcoming year, our guide is going to tell you more about it.