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What Is a Resume?

Understanding a resume, the resume heading, resume trouble spots, changing times for resumes, what you should not put on a resume, the bottom line.

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Resume Definition: Meaning, Purpose, and What Should Not Be on Yours

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Katrina Ávila Munichiello is an experienced editor, writer, fact-checker, and proofreader with more than fourteen years of experience working with print and online publications.

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A resume is a formal document that a job applicant creates to itemize their qualifications for a position. A resume is usually accompanied by a customized cover letter in which the applicant expresses an interest in a specific job or company and draws attention to the most relevant specifics on the resume.

American job coaches insist that a resume should be only one or two pages in length. British job applicants traditionally are expected to produce a somewhat more detailed document, called a CV (curriculum vitae).

Key Takeaways

  • Nowadays, resumes are typically sent by email or as part of an online application.
  • The traditional one- to two-page limit for a resume stands, but nothing prevents you from attaching a brief video introduction or other illustration if it is relevant and enhances your presentation.
  • It's smart to rewrite your resume to tailor it to a specific job you're seeking.

A resume is almost always required for applicants to office jobs. They are the first step taken by corporate recruiters and hiring managers to identify candidates who might be invited to interview for a position.

Successful resumes highlight specific accomplishments applicants have achieved in former positions, such as cutting costs, transcending sales goals, increasing profits, and building out teams. 

There are many formats for resumes, with many variations for particular professions such as investment banking and the fashion trade.

Whatever the format, most resumes include a brief summary of skills and experience, followed by a bullet list of previous jobs in reverse chronological order and a list of degrees earned. A final section might be added to highlight specific skills, such as fluency in a foreign language, knowledge of computer languages, professionally useful hobbies, professional affiliations, and any honors achieved.

Brevity, a clean layout, and succinct language all are prized. People who have to sort through hundreds of resumes have short attention spans.

The heading on the resume should include not only your name, email address, and mobile phone number but also your address on LinkedIn or another professional community and the address of your website or blog if you have one.

Be aware that any hiring manager will, as a matter of course, enter your name in the Google search field. Do a search on your own and see if you can optimize your own results or at least decently bury any youthful faux pas.

Recruiters examine job histories for significant employment gaps or a pattern of job-hopping. Be prepared to explain either, whether in a cover letter or during an interview. An applicant with a history of short-lived jobs might consider omitting a few of the oldest ones, especially if they aren't relevant to the current job opening.

For example, if you spent years working behind a counter in food service, then went back to school to earn physical therapy credentials, forget some of those early jobs in food service. Flesh out the sections that report your skills , training, and experience in the field that's now your specialty. You can mention those other jobs in the interview while explaining what a reliable professional you are.

The past can be particularly dangerous for applicants to new technology companies seeking to assemble cutting-edge teams. Legacy skills may imply obsolescence. The most powerful resumes underline how an applicant can thrive in the job that's open right now.

It goes without saying that resumes these days are delivered as email attachments or uploaded for an online application, not printed out and mailed.

Although the two-page maximum still stands, many applicants use the web to its full potential when it comes to attachments. Video introductions, charts, graphs, and other illustrations can make you stand out, so long as they're relevant and slickly made.

There is so much talk about what should be in your resume, but there are also some things that ought to be kept off the page. First, and most importantly, are your age, marital status, and the number of children you may have. While a potential employer might be able to deduce this information via a web search, it isn't relevant for a job application.

In addition, do not list your current salary, religion, political beliefs, or any personal details (like your hobbies), unless that information is required for the job in question.

What Are Common Resume Mistakes?

Common resume mistakes include typos, vague details without a lack of specifics, either being too long in detail or too short, grammatical errors, poor verb usage, adding impertinent information, and not including enough information on skills.

Should I Create More Than One Resume?

This depends on whether you are applying for different types of jobs. For example, if you are applying for an office manager job, you should tailor your resume to outline your leadership and organizational skills. But you might also be interested in applying for a retail position, so creating a second resume that instead highlights any retail experience that you have will put you in a better position to get that job.

What If I Do Not Have Any Work Experience?

You can still create a strong resume even if you do not have any professional work experience. Your resume can include any volunteer work you have done and the responsibilities you had during this time. If you are still in school, you can also list any academic organizations you are a part of and any offices and responsibilities you're holding.

Your resume is what gets you the job interview. It's the first step in getting hired. So you want to spend plenty of time making sure it's professional, represents who you are, is void of mistakes, does not contain superfluous information, and highlights why you would be the best candidate for the job.

Your resume should be recent and contain only the most important information; remove anything else. If you've been working for two decades, employers aren't interested in your high school GPA or any internships you had during college. Keep it concise, interesting, and impressive, and you'll be sure to get a response from companies.

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Meaning of resume in English

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  • The company expects to resume production of the vehicle again after a two-month hiatus .
  • Missile attacks on the capital resumed at dawn .
  • Normal service resumes in ten minutes .
  • The meeting will resume after lunch .
  • After a short break for rain , the match resumed with both players seeking to attack .
  • back to square one idiom
  • get back to someone
  • go back to someone
  • recommencement
  • reoccurrence
  • with the slate wiped clean idiom

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

  • a (quick/brisk) trot through something idiom
  • brushstroke
  • encapsulation
  • executive summary
  • in short idiom
  • recapitulation
  • shorthand for something idiom
  • sum (something/someone) up
  • to cut a long story short idiom

resume | American Dictionary

Resume | business english, examples of resume, translations of resume.

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Definition of 'résumé'

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resume in British English

Résumé in british english, resume in american english, résumé in american english, resume in american english 1, resume in american english 2, examples of 'resume' in a sentence resume, cobuild collocations résumé, trends of résumé.

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  • results demonstrate
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  • results of a study
  • resume a journey
  • resume a search
  • resume an activity
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Definition of resume

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

intransitive verb

Definition of résumé  (Entry 2 of 2)

  • proceed (with)
  • encapsulation
  • recapitulation
  • run-through
  • summarization

Examples of resume in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'resume.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French resumer , from Latin resumere , from re- + sumere to take up, take — more at consume

French résumé , from past participle of résumer to resume, summarize, from Middle French resumer

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

1782, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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“Resume.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resume. Accessed 22 Nov. 2023.

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What is a Resume? Definition, Structure, Purpose, Types & Meaning

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Reverse chronological resume format

Functional/skills-based resume format, hybrid resume format.

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Personal Details and Contact Information

Resume introduction, work experience and achievements, education section, additional sections.

You want to get a job and that’s just great! But as you start thinking about it, hundreds of questions pop up in your head.

“How do I write my resume?”, “What is a resume”, “What is a cover letter” and even more and more hanging there. Don’t worry, we are here to help you and get you good and ready to start your journey.

We are going to cover some basic topics like:

  • What is a resume
  • Resume format and layout

As well as some more advanced ones like:

  • Resume structure
  • Design and formatting tips
  • Dos and Don'ts
  • Cover letter

This article is mainly for the basics, so if you want more advanced tips and tricks, you can also learn how to Make Your Resume Stand Out .

But if you are searching for the basics only, that’s the right place!

So let’s dive in.

What is a resume?

The resume is your absolute must if you are looking for a job.

Your resume defines who you are in the eyes of your potential employer and is the most important document in your job application, followed by the cover letter.

But probably you are asking yourself: what is a resume?

In simple words: A resume is a formal document that a job applicant creates to itemize their qualifications for a position. It usually includes work experience, education, skills and any other relevant information you want to share with your future employer.

We need to note the fact that a resume is different from a curriculum vitae (CV).

The CV shows your complete work experience, education, skill set, and anything else you have done, no matter the length of the document, while the resume’s goal is to present anything relevant in a clear and easy-to-read format.

Unlike a CV, a resume should be modified for each and every job position, so that it would be as relevant as possible, and it should not exceed 1-2 pages.

The goal of your resume is to quickly and effectively show your potential employer why you are uniquely qualified for their job opening, based on your relevant experience and skills.

Preparation before writing a resume

As we said earlier, a resume should be kept short and to the point, it should only include relevant information for the job position.

The easiest way to perfect your resume writing is to get started with some preparation.

What you need to do is get a list of:

  • Accomplishments from previous jobs
  • Your skill set - soft, hard and technical skills
  • Details about your previous jobs
  • Details about your education
  • Certifications, awards and honors
  • Anything else that you might want to include in your resume at one point

Don’t worry about the writing, just focus on the relevance to the job position of everything you write down.

Once you are done, step away. Give it a few hours.

And when you are well rested again, come back to it with fresh eyes and perfect your writing.

Format and Layout

Now you have everything you might want to include in your future resumes, all in one place, and that’s great!

But there is just one more thing to do before we start filling each section with information.

And that’s a pretty important step - choosing the format and sticking to a good layout.

Don’t worry, we got you covered, and we will go through the 3 main resume formats.

A reverse chronological resume format is the most popular one out there.

It has the great advantage of being suitable for pretty much every job position.

This format is mostly career-oriented - it lists your work history in order, as the most recent position would be at the top.

It is the ideal format for people with lots of work experience, relevant to the job position they are applying for.

Check out some of our great examples - Reverse Chronological Resume .

But if you don’t feel confident that your work experience is relevant enough, don’t worry, the next resume format would be perfect for you.

As opposed to the reverse chronological resume, the functional resume format is mainly focused on your skill set.

It is the perfect choice for you if you are looking for your first job or career change, or if you are trying to steer away the employer’s focus from a gap in your employment history.

The great thing about the functional resume format is that it groups your skills in categories and presents them in a great and easy-to-read format.

Check out some examples to form a better idea of what the function resume format is - Functional Resume .

You are not convinced that this is your format either? We have one last format for you and it is guaranteed to work!

As its name shows, this resume format combines all the best features of the reverse chronological and the functional resume.

What it includes is both a reverse chronological work history section, and a highly detailed skill section.

It’s mostly used for job positions that require expertise in a variety of fields, and you want to show that you are the right person for the job.

Get a better understanding of the combination resume format with these examples - Hybrid Resume .

Great, you picked your resume format, now let’s focus on one last thing - the layout .

There are a few important points that you need to follow in order to do this part right.

First, keep it short and to the point. One page is what you need. Don’t go for 2 pages, unless you are absolutely sure that it would add some significant value.

Pick the right font and font size:

  • Your font should stand out, but not too much, so you can go for Ubuntu, Roboto and Overpass, but don’t ever try Comic Sans.
  • Keep your text between 11 and 12pt, so that it would be easy to read
  • Pick a heading type (H1, H2…) and stick with it for all sections. Use between 14 and 16pt so that titles would stand out a little more

To ensure that your resume would look good, make sure you have sufficient white space between sections and appropriate margins (at least 0.7 inches)

And last, but not least - save your resume as PDF . It’s going to keep your formatting as it is, no matter what, as opposed to alternatives like Word.

We know that it might be intimidating to process all that information.

But don’t worry, we got you covered.

There are a few main templates that you can stick to, according to the type of resume you are trying to achieve.

The first, and most multifunctional format, is the Basic . You can use it on any occasion, but it is not specifically concentrated on any section, so if you want to focus on something more, keep reading, we’ve got more for you.

If you just graduated from college and don’t have much experience, you might want to focus more on your education and skills, rather than anything else, so you would want to use the College Resume Example .

We mentioned earlier the functional resume format, we have some examples for you to check out: Function Resume Template .

The other resume templates you can check out, according to your goal are:

  • Infographic Resume Template
  • Minimalist Resume Template
  • Modern Resume Template
  • Timeline Resume Template
  • Traditional Resume Template
  • Two-column Resume Template

Check them all and win the resume game.

Resume Structure

Okay, we are doing great so far!

Let’s dive into all the different sections your resume can have .

Believe it or not, this is the most critical section of your resume.

No matter how well you did everything, how skilled and experienced you are, the HR won’t ever call you in for an interview if you misspelled your phone number.

This section should be on the top of your resume and must include your name, email and phone number. The mailing address is mandatory.

Your name should be highly visible with bolder or larger font than the rest of the document.

As you want to look professional in the eyes of your potential employer, make sure your email address sounds professional. Consider creating a new email account if you currently use an outdated email service.

You can also include a portfolio if you are applying for creative positions, or a LinkedIn profile, but make sure you make it a strong one.

If you feel like more tips on the topic would be of use, check out Contact Information on Resume .

And last, as we stated in the beginning of this section - make sure your contact information is correct. You should double-check it, and even triple-check it and make sure everything is correct and up-to-date.

This is a very small part of your overall resume, but it is an extremely important one.

As it is one of the first things a hiring manager would see when looking at your resume, you need to perfect it.

What it actually is, is a short statement in two or three sentences. It’s a description of who you are as a candidate.

A well-written introduction can grab the hiring manager’s attention and multiply your chances of getting the job you applied for.

It’s not a deal-breaker if you skip this section and decide you don’t need it, but that short statement on top of your resume can really be key for getting called for an interview.

The work experience is the heart of your resume.

The first thing the hiring manager would look for are the job titles and the companies you have worked for. Make sure this information is easy to find.

The basics of this section should include:

  • Job position
  • Location of the Company
  • Dates of employment

But no matter how impressive your work experience, compressed in these 4 points, it might not be good enough for the employer.

Employers don’t want only basic information, they are much more interested in the impact you had on the companies you previously worked for.

Results matter and numbers are important.

No matter what were your previous positions, there is always some metric that can show your potential employer you had a significant impact.

Perfect this section by checking out - Work Experience Section .

Having a clear education section is essential for your resume, especially if your work experience is limited, or you have just graduated.

If you don’t have much work experience, but your track record in school is good, consider making your education section highly-detailed and include all your education-related accomplishments .

On the contrary, if you have a few years of work experience, your education section should shrink down to the basics.

In most cases, listing the school name, the attendance years and your degree would be enough.

If you want to go deeper in this section’s topic, check out - Education Section .

Before starting this section, we need to define the difference between the two main types of skills - soft and hard.

Hard Skills

Using simple words, a hard skill is one that can be learned, taught, or measured and is not dependent on your industry.

Examples of such skills are any language or computer skills, or ability to operate heavy machinery.

Soft Skills

A soft skill is a personality trait that is hard to measure but that makes you great at your job.

Examples of such skills are being a team player, being driven to succeed, or having a great attitude.

Now that we have defined both types of skills, it’s pretty much up to you to decide which ones to include on your resume.

The important thing is to list them clearly, so it would be easy for the hiring manager to see them and note them.

If they see right away the skills that they seek, they are much more likely to take your resume under consideration.

As this section is very important, but somewhat complex, we recommend you look into it a little more - Skills Section .

If you have gone this far, you know all the basics you need for your resume.

There are a few more sections that you can add to your resume, if you think they would contribute in some way, or if you consider your resume still incomplete.

Certifications, Awards, & Honors

This section can potentially be very important, but you really need to show something impressive, if you decide to go for it.

If your potential employer needs to see some specific certifications, make sure you know which ones to include in your resume before you send it, because leaving some out could potentially ruin your application by making you seem unqualified.

In any other case, if you feel like some certification, award or honor would be relevant in your resume, feel free to include it.

If you would like to read a little more on the topic - Certifications on Resume .

And feel free to add any other section that you feel would help your hiring process.

Here are a few sections that you can consider:

  • Publications
  • Volunteering
  • Hobbies & Interests

Tailor Your Information to the Job Ad

So far, so good.

Now we need to remember once again that the resume’s purpose is to be fitted for a specific job position.

So don’t forget to make it so, don’t send out the same resume for a variety of different positions, because it just won’t work.

The most important thing to do here is to adjust the keywords, especially in your skills section.

Show the employer that the skill set you have is perfectly fitted to the company’s needs.

You should also consider modifying your work experience and education sections, depending on the job requirements.

But all in all - focus on the keywords for each and every job position you are applying for.

Cover Letter

Okay, you seem to be all done with your resume.

So you might be asking yourself - I have a great resume, do I need a cover letter?

The answer is always - yes, if you have the option.

Cover letters may be crucial in the hiring process because they let you provide context for your resume.

Furthermore, they let you show off your personality and your enthusiasm for the job you are applying for.

A well-written cover letter can really boost your application and be the game-changer in your hiring project, so don’t hesitate to learn How to Tell a Story in a Cover Letter .

We reached the end of our topic, but don’t relax just yet, because this is an important one.

Typos and grammatical errors are the most common mistakes found in resumes.

And quite often they are a dealbreaker for the employer.

So don’t skip out on proofreading and do it right.

Here are some tips to be sure your resume would be mistake-free:

  • Try reading your resume backwards (it can help you identify errors by presenting the words in a new order)
  • Ask trusted friends, colleagues, professors and family members if they can review your resume (third-party opinions can help reveal new information you might have overlooked)
  • Try reading the resume a few times, but at different times of the day (it would clear up your mind and help you identify mistakes, you didn’t see before)

And, of course, don’t forget the layout recommendations we gave you before - check your font and font sizes.

One final thing - if your resume is more than one page, review it once again and try to shorten it to one page.

Takeaways: What is a resume?

We are all done.

Now you know the difference between a Resume and a CV.

You also learned the basics of writing your Resume and modifying it according to the job position.

You have in your knowledge the most important dos and don'ts for writing a Resume, and you’ve got a great variety of links to deepen your knowledge for every step of the writing process.

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What Is A Resume? Definition And Purpose

What Is A Resume? Definition And Purpose

Home » Resume Help » What Is A Resume? Definition And Purpose

What Is A Resume

A resume is a document that highlights your work experience, education, skills, and other qualifications. It is typically used when applying for jobs, and is one of the most important pieces in your job application. Your resume should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for, and should include only the most relevant and recent information.

The purpose of a resume is to give potential employers a snapshot of your work history, skills, and qualifications. It is one of the most important pieces in your job application, and should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Your resume should only include the most relevant and recent information. Including only the most relevant and recent information is important because it allows potential employers to see what you are capable of and what you have accomplished recently. It also helps them to understand how you can contribute to their company.

In order to create an effective resume, you should first understand what information to include and how to format it. You should also keep in mind that your resume should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for.

A resume is a document that contains a summary of your skills, experience, and qualifications.

The purpose of a resume is to help you get hired for a job., a resume should be specific to the job you are applying for., a resume should be well-written and free of errors., a resume should be concise and to the point., a resume should be easy to read and understand., frequently asked questions.

It is used to apply for jobs and to provide potential employers with a snapshot of your professional qualifications.

Most resumes are one to two pages long. A resume should be clear, concise, and easy to read. It should be free of any grammar or punctuation errors.

Some employers may require a specific resume format, so be sure to check with the employer before you submit your resume.

When creating your resume, you should include the following sections:

  • Contact Information : Include your full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
  • Objective Statement : A brief statement that outlines your career goals and objectives.
  • Education: Include the name and location of your school, as well as your degree and graduation date.
  • Work History : A list of your previous employment experiences, including the job title, company name, and dates of employment.
  • Skills : A list of your skills, including both hard and soft skills.
  • References : A list of references that can attest to your qualifications.
  • Other : Any other relevant information, such as professional memberships or volunteer experience.

When writing each section of your resume, be sure to use clear and concise language. Use action verbs to describe your experiences and accomplishments.

Your resume should be a snapshot of your professional qualifications, so be sure to showcase your best qualities. Highlight your skills, experience, and accomplishments that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.

If you need help creating your resume, there are many resources available, such as resume templates, resume builders, and professional resume writers.

A resume is a brief summary of your skills, qualifications, and experience. It is usually submitted with a job application. The purpose of a resume is to help you get hired for a job.

Most employers require candidates to submit a resume and cover letter as part of the job application process. The resume is a way for you to showcase your skills and experiences that match the requirements of the job you are applying for.

A well-written resume will help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of getting an interview.

The purpose of a resume

Here are some tips to help you write a great resume:

  • Use a professional resume template
  • Start with a summary of your skills and experience
  • List your work experience in reverse chronological order
  • Include your education and professional qualifications
  • Use action verbs to describe your accomplishments
  • Tailor your resume to each job you apply for
  • proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors

Following these tips will help you create a strong resume that will increase your chances of getting an interview.

A resume is a concise, informative summary of your abilities, education, and experience. It should highlight your strongest assets and skills, and differentiate you from other candidates seeking similar positions. Although it alone will not get you a job or internship, a good resume is an important step toward obtaining an interview.

There are three types of resume formats: chronological, functional, and combination. Chronological resumes list your experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experiences first. Functional resumes highlight your skills and accomplishments rather than listing your work history chronologically. Combination resumes are a mix of the chronological and functional formats.

No matter which resume format you choose, keep in mind that the goal of your resume is to get you an interview. To do this, your resume must be clear and concise, and highlight your most relevant skills and experience.

A well-written resume is important to landing a job interview. A resume should be free of errors, clearly organized, and include relevant information about your education and work experience.

When writing your resume, be sure to focus on creating a clear and concise document. Highlight your strengths and skills, and be sure to include any relevant experience or education. Remember to proofread your resume before sending it off to potential employers.

If you take the time to create a well-written and well-organized resume, you will increase your chances of landing a job interview.

A resume should be a brief, concise document that outlines your key qualifications and experiences. It should not be a lengthy document that contains every detail of your work history. Instead, focus on key accomplishments and skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for.

When writing your resume, be sure to:

  • Keep it concise: Your resume should be no more than one or two pages.
  • Focus on relevant information: Include only information that is relevant to the position you are applying for.
  • Use action words: Use strong, action-oriented language to describe your accomplishments and skills.
  • Make it easy to read: Use clear, concise language and format your resume in a way that is easy to scan.
  • Proofread: Be sure to proofread your resume before sending it off to potential employers.

Following these tips will help ensure that your resume is concise, relevant, and easy to read – all important factors in making a good impression on potential employers.

easy to read and understand.

Did you know that the average employer spends less than one minute reading a resume? That’s why it’s important to make sure your resume is easy to read and understand, so that you can make a good impression and stand out from the competition. In order to make sure your resume makes a good impression on potential employers, Use clear and concise language, and organize your information in a way that is logical and easy to follow. Additionally, breaking up larger blocks of text into bullet points or short paragraphs can help make your resume more readable, and be sure to proofread your resume before sending it out.

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your resume will make a great impression and help you get one step closer to landing your dream job.

Planning to Write a Resume?

Check our job winning resume samples.

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Ans. A resume is a document that outlines your qualifications, skills, and experience. It is used to apply for jobs and is often the first point of contact between an employer and a job seeker.

A. The purpose of a resume is to help an employer understand your qualifications and skills, and to determine whether you are a good fit for a particular job.

A. Your resume should include your contact information, education, work experience, skills, and references. You may also want to include a summary or objective statement.

Ans. A chronological resume lists your education and work experience in reverse chronological order. A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience, rather than on your chronological work history.

In conclusion, a resume is a vital tool in the job search process. It is a document that showcases your skills, experience, and qualifications in a way that is easy for employers to understand. A well-written resume can help you land the job you want and help you advance in your career.

Recommended Reading:

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  • How to start a cover letter
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Resume vs. Résumé: A Brief Account Of Their Differences

We all have those words that we’ve heard over and over but don’t have the chance to write out all that often. Which can lead to a little bit of confusion when you actually need said word—like handing in your job application with “ resume ” in big letters on top instead of résumé. Or worse, talking about your résumé and pronouncing it resume the entire time: “As you can see on my re-zoom …”

While mixing up resume and résumé will surely lead to some funny looks, there’s a reason the two words get confused: a shared origin and differences between formal and informal writing.

If you’re looking to bolster your résumé, review some of the key action verbs we recommend when writing your résumé.

What does resume mean?

Resume is a verb that means to continue or “to take up or go on with again after interruption.” You can resume watching your favorite TV show after dinner, for example, or you could say that the football game resumed after the storm passed.

The noun form of resume is resumption , which is “the act or fact of taking up or going on with again.” The resumption of activities in nicer weather, for instance.

Resume was first recorded in 1375–1425. It comes from the Latin resūmere. The Latin word can be broken down into re- , a prefix meaning “again, back,” and sūmere, which means “to take.”

The definition is pretty straightforward, but it can get a little more complicated very fast. Resume is also a spelling variant of résumé when the accent marks are dropped (more on that later). You can thank how the English language adopts some French words for that curveball.

What is a résumé ?

A résumé (with the accent marks) is “a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.” It’s pronounced [  rez – oo -mey ] as opposed to how resume is pronounced [ ri- zoom ].

One could submit their résumé when applying for a graduate school program, for example, or do some extra volunteer work to add to their résumé. Our article on how to write a résumé has the tips and tricks you need, just be sure to use our Grammar Coach™ to make sure you don’t mix up resume and résumé before sending it in.

The word résumé was first recorded in 1795–1805 and originally meant a summary . The English résumé comes directly from the past participle of the French verb resumer, which means to “ sum up .” In French, résumé literally translates to something that has been summed up. The English meaning isn’t all that different when you consider a résumé is just a summary of a person’s education and work experience.

Why is résumé spelled that way?

Sometimes when the English language adopts a word from another language, the accent marks stick. Consider the word café , or déjà vu . The accent marks tell French speakers how to pronounce a vowel. That mark over the E in résumé is called an acute accent and signals that it should be pronounced like “ey.” Accent marks also distinguish two different words that are otherwise homographs.

Do you have the savoir-faire to know when to use a French loanword? Learn about savoir-faire and other French words that made their way into English.

That latter reason is one example of why the accent marks remain in English. A reader would have to rely entirely on context if résumé lacked the accent marks, and relying on context can easily lead to a misreading of the situation.

That said, sometimes the markings are left out in common usage, especially for words that were borrowed from French long ago—they had time to settle in, drop the marks, and assimilate. That’s why, in informal writing, résumé may be spelled resume. Think of it like how some places describe themselves as a café while others use cafe.

As with anything else in communication, it’s important to know your audience. Résumés are typically used when applying for a job or school. Both of those tend toward more formal, so using résumé with the acute accents is a safe bet.

What is a résumé vs. curriculum vitae ?

You may also be asked for a curriculum vitae (or CV for short) instead of a résumé. Using curriculum vitae is more common in British English and in other varieties of English across the world, but it’s not entirely uncommon in American English.

Like a résumé, a curriculum vitae is a summary of work experience and other background information that might be relevant to someone reading a job or school application. A CV is more likely to be asked for in academia than at your average, run-of-the-mill job in the United States. It also typically refers to a much more detailed summary—describing published papers and awards under a job or education heading rather than only listing a title and short description of duties, for instance. The fact that a CV is so comprehensive makes sense, as curriculum vitae  means “course of life” in Latin.

Now, if you landed here while working on your résumé or curriculum vitae to double check that you were using the right accent marks, you can resume with confidence now.

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Now that you're definitely sure you understand the nuances with those accent marks, hop over to this article on using "definitely" and "definitively" correctly.

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